As the spring tradeshow season makes its way into April, there are some points that become even more clear with each passing year. The “show” part is getting lost and we need help to get it back. Suppliers and distributors need to take a good, long look at what the national, traveling, and regional shows mean to them and the value they potentially have to help all parties achieve their marketing initiatives, and ultimately their sales efforts. Here is what I see as a few points we all should look at to improve the quality of these shows:
• Suppliers –
o Make sure your displays are updated consistently with fresh graphics, clean table cloths/runners that are not tattered, and updated catalogs
o Spend the time developing quality samples that can make an impact with distributors and end users
▪ Maybe one or two for each user?
▪ What is new?
o Are your factory or multi-line rep’s professional in how they approach the job – and in turn how they are representing you?
o Are you financially supporting your field reps or multi-line reps so that they are taking the time to put up a strong “show” effort?
• Supplier Reps –
o Are you making the effort to have a well-thought out display that can tell a story of the line you represent?
o Does your appearance both personally and in your booth reflect well on the suppliers you are representing?
o Can you engage with the clients without “attacking” them in the aisle?
▪ Let them browse – don’t oversell the latest and greatest tchotchke
▪ Have something tangible that they can learn without feeling overwhelmed
o “Show” that you want to be there with your presence and effort
• Distributors –
o Have a plan for the shows – be prepared with projects in play or that you want to work on proactively. Coming to every show that happens to be in your area just to get out of the office and look busy doesn’t benefit anyone.
o Take the time to talk with the reps at each booth – they are spending their time and money to be present for you and help you make money.
o Don’t just walk through the show, it’s not a mall.
o Each rep should be able to teach you something about their product line that you can take with you.
• Owners –
o Engage your whole team…”Show” up!
o Anyone who touches the order from client to supplier should come to at least the regional shows if you are not going to ASI or PPAI shows. Their interaction with the factories can be very valuable.
o Support the local Associations – look for mentors to engage younger staff and help to keep them in the industry as well as all the educational opportunities that are available.
• Inviting end-users?
o If you are inviting to the regional shows, then either walk them around to each supplier, or tell them to engage with each supplier. Again, they can learn something even if they don’t have an active project for that moment.
o Invite them all – your customers are there to find something to buy from you! Don’t be afraid of the shows and exposing your clients to the competition—they were invited by you.
If we put on the “show” the way we are capable of, the whole experience is better. In the end, the quality level on both sides rises and everyone benefits from it.