To all of those loyal blog followers, yes, six of our executives and members of our sales team will be heading first thing this AM to the windy city of Chicago. The Internet Retailing Conference and Exhibition is getting started today with record numbers in attendance, as well as in exhibitors.
We want to shake hands & mingle with BOTH existing clients and hopefully new clients. But many who attend trade shows attend without having clearly defined goals that are measurable.
Listed below are Five (5) goals for ANY trade show exhibitor:
Goal #1: Identify new companies that could benefit from your services. With 6,000 people attending, you better believe that we don't want to waste valuable time with a company's representative that we will never do business with. Have ready detailed questions that will pre-qualify the individual who is casually strolling down the McCormick Trade Convention hall.
Goal #2: Identify WHO within the organization has the "power" and "authority" to sign contracts on the dotted line. Don't be afraid to simply ask outright.
Goal #3: Say "hello" to existing clients (many of whom you probably have only talked to over the phone, yet never had the opportunity to meet). Don't miss this golden opportunity. Ask questions about your service, your experiences, make it clear that you want to do whatever it takes to continue to EARN their business.
Goal #4: Maximize your time (as well as the time of all employees). Believe it or not, we have had several internal meetings at Catalogs.com reviewing different strategies for approaching prospects, identifying quickly and efficiently if these prospects are worth spending time with, and how to effectively "step-away" from conversations with talkative people who are unlikely to yield fruitful results. Time is so precious ... use it wisely.
Goal #5: Maximize your available staff resources. Split up, there is nothing worse than having your co-worker sit next to you at a luncheon or breakfast. Or even worse, having a co-worker hang on you during the cocktail reception. On average, I am personally estimating that an average cost to exhibit at a trade show is between $10,000 - $25,000 per show. What a tragedy to miss the opportunity to network with people you don't know.
My top 5 goals as stated above are a bit different than the one's listed below, although the goals below do have some validity. My goals are more directed towards achieving measurable results. After all, next year when we review the ROI of attending a trade show, you can bet that I will demand from our sales team a list of contracts that were actually closed throughout the year, due to our presence at the trade show. If the results are not positive, then it will be doubtful that my name will appear on the return list.
Other common reasons for exhibiting, according the the SBA - US Small Business Administration include:
-Generating sales leads
-Generating actual sales at the show
-Enhancing your image and visibility
-Reaching a specific audience
-Establishing a presence in the marketplace
-Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your marketing efforts
-Personally meeting your customers, competitors, and suppliers
-Prospecting for new customers
-Introducing new products and services
-Demonstrating your product in ways not possible using other marketing channels
-Recruiting distributors or dealers
-Educating your target audience