Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What Makes a Successful Show?

Coffee in the Washington DC skyline mug (it's the New Hampshire primaries today, doncha know), the whoowoop of instant messages being sent and received on both Dave's laptop and mine, and the beep beep of the alarm system as it is being configured (going on seven hours now--but not continuous) for my music. Oh the check marks are flying onto the list as the tasks fly off!

So it's early January, must be time to put together a marketing strategy (including a postcard mailing) for the BMAC. Last week I got an email from the Rosen Group, Countdown to the Buyer's Market #5. They send out prep/pep emails once a week for the several weeks leading up to the show. Usually I skim them (Bad businessperson! Sit! Stay!), but this one I read and I was really impressed and motivated by the marketing suggestions contained in it. After several days of mulling it over I am still so impressed that I called them this morning and got permission to reprint the meat of the email in my post today.

Measuring Your Success at the Buyers Market

“How was your show?”
It’s a question you’ll be asked repeatedly… by fellow exhibitors, by visiting artists, by your exhibits manager, even friends and family. What will your answer be?

Setting goals & objectives
About six weeks before the show (now!), take some time to WRITE DOWN some specific goals and objectives for the show. They should be realistic and attainable. You should, of course, include your total sales goal, but think beyond the bottom line. Tradeshows are much more than an order-taking opportunity… they are a venue for developing and maintaining personal relationships with current and potential customers.

Some sample goals & objectives:

Collect contact information/business cards from 25 new buyers
Make personal contact with one member of the media
Bring 80% of last year’s buyers back to the booth
Add three new buyers from the west coast
Schedule social visits outside of show hours with two top buyers
Distribute 50 catalogs to qualified leads

Meeting your goals & objectives
You can’t just sit in your booth, keeping your fingers crossed that you’ll meet your show goals. After you put your goals on paper, write down at least one specific step you can take before or at the show to meet that goal:

Collect contact information/business cards from 25 new buyers
If you missed out on the show’s co-op mailing program, you can still reach new buyers. A little bit of internet research will provide you with the store names and addresses of retailers across the country. Give a handful of them a call, or send out your own postcards. Also, don’t discount networking opportunities at the show. Attend retailer breakfast seminars, the NICHE Awards and the show party and INTRODUCE YOURSELF to buyers. Exchange business cards. Not all business is conducted on the show floor.

Make personal contact with one member of the media
Send out pre-show press releases to targeted trade media (“Sue Smith Debuts New Ceramic Work at Buyers Market in February”). Put press kits in the Press Office in Room 304. Watch for black badges on the show floor and introduce yourself to members of the media.

Bring 80% of last year’s buyers back to the booth
Send a letter or handwritten invitation to last year’s buyers providing them with incentive to visit your booth (all returning buyers who write an order at February’s show will be entered into a drawing to win a free iPod). You should CALL all of your previous year’s buyers to see if they’d like to schedule an appointment in your booth.

Add three buyers from the west coast
Develop a special sales plan for specific buyers. When a buyer enters your booth, pay attention to the store location listed on their badge. If they are in your target area, engage them in conversation about your work and your hopes to increase your presence in their region. Offer a special incentive to them to write an order (free shipping, etc.).

Schedule social visits outside of show hours with two top buyers.
Call your top buyers next week. Invite one to dinner on Friday night, and one to breakfast before the show opens on Monday. Build your relationships. Find out what they need.

Distribute 50 catalogs to qualified leads
Don’t just hand out your sales materials like candy. Learn at least one qualifying piece of information about a buyer and get their business card before giving away any sales materials. Give catalogs only to buyers who you feel legitimately could turn into potential customers. Have postcards or other less expensive handouts available for buyers who may not be a good match for you.

Now, how was your show?
By setting specific and MEASURABLE goals, and taking action to meet those goals, you will be able to most effectively determine whether or not you had a good show. Remember, your show experience is about more than the number of orders you write on site; it’s a valuable opportunity to take steps that will help your business flourish over time.


Thanks, Christine, for a very well-written piece. Go marketers!


Bill said...

You sound very upbeat in this post...

Brenda Griffith said...

maybe because it isn't written by me? do I really usually sound so pessimistic?

Bill said...

No, you usually sound distracted. Or distractable. Or something.

Dee said...

not pessimistic, just stressed from juggling a few too many balls some days ;P