Magazine article Online Searcher

Making the Most of Trade Shows

Magazine article Online Searcher

Making the Most of Trade Shows

Article excerpt

Why do you go to trade shows?

Although many reasons exist for trade show attendance, I like to think of them as stage settings for salespeople to interact with customers and prospects alike. You could almost liken a trade show to "participatory theater," at least on the exhibit floor.

Unfortunately, trade shows are a declining business, at least in the information professional world. Just look around the exhibit hall at the last trade show you attended. Reduced travel funds for salespeople and librarians have shrunk the attendance levels for both. Associations that sponsor these shows have run out of original ideas to attract new vendors. Moreover, given the shrinking attendance, fewer sales occur. One result: Shows where vendors have participated for many years are being cut out of the corporate budget. As important vendors pull out of exhibit areas, information professionals are also challenged by management about the cost of travel to conferences.

There is no question that times are changing in relation to trade shows, and we all need to better understand how to make these meetings viable for everyone. But wait; let's not throw out the baby with the bath water!

Trade shows are a fundamental part of the sales cycle and customer relationship development. For the sales rep, these shows can mean very long days of meeting with hundreds of customers or potential customers. For the information professional, the show can represent an easy, one-stop shopping opportunity to meet with all types of reps, compare products and services, and see the latest and greatest product or product development.

CONNECTING AT TRADE SHOWS

Trade shows provide an equal opportunity for the vendor and the customer to efficiently connect. According to the Center for Exhibit Industry Research (CEIR; ceir.org), more than 85% of the trade show audience is made up of final decision makers or those who influence purchases. Translated, this means that salespeople have an opportunity to present themselves to decision makers and influencers all day long. These decision makers and influencers are coming in to see not only the salesperson but also senior executives, marketing people, and customer care representatives, as well. Trade show attendance by information professionals can be a buying and learning experience at the same time.

Other statistics from CEIR indicate that 91% of attendees believe trade shows are the No. 1 source of information to help them make purchasing decisions. At trade shows, attendees are able to directly compare many products in a category at one location. In other words, they can see all the products they want to buy from multiple vendors on the same day. This is reason enough for buyers to go to trade shows.

According to CEIR:

* On average 81% to 83% of visitors have some kind of buying power.

* The average visitor spends 9.2 hours at the exhibit hall at a 2-3 day trade show.

* 86% of the visitors coming to the booth will be new contacts.

* 77% of visitors will remember your company for up to 10 weeks.

Of course, there are some attendees at trade shows who go only for the vendor events, local sightseeing, and meals with friends and relatives. As a result, some of those who ostensibly go to trade shows for professional development never step foot in the exhibit hall or attend a professional session. Unfortunately for those folks, they are missing opportunities to learn. The good news is that the majority of librarians who attend these shows spend considerable time in the exhibit hall.

USE TIME WISELY

Notwithstanding, the true opportunity for both the salesperson and the information professional is to use this time to be visible, be present, and connect. Sure, the attendees will network with their colleagues away from the hall, and of course they will do some sightseeing and maybe even play some golf or take in the cultural sights the host city has to offer. …

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