Show and Sell.
Here are the tricks of the trade show circuit and how to expo your way to profits
GREGORY PERKINS KNOWS HOW TO STAND out in it crowd. When 20,000 publishing industry bigwigs jam the aisles of Chicago's McCormick Center for Book Expo America, Perkins is on hand exhibiting his line of African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. greeting cards See e-card. , calendars and pocket planners. "I'm there to hook a big fish," he says, And he has the perfect bait bait
a preparation containing a palatable food substance such as raw meat, carrot or bran and a pharmaceutical or poisonous substance. The purpose is to introduce the medicament or poison into the unsuspecting animal. . Perkins highlights his product line using a 10-ft.-tall display, complete with bright lights and bold, colorful graphics. "People can see us from three rows over. It really pulls them into our booth" says the 33-year-old owner of Sacramento, California-based Magic Image. "I do about a dozen trade shows a year, They account for the majority of our sales." The seven-year-old company cams a half-million dollars annually.
At last year's expo, Perkins reeled in his big fish Target Stores agreed to distribute his African American art African American art is a broad term describing the visual arts of the American black community. Influenced by various cultural traditions, including those of Africa, Europe and the Americas, traditional African American art forms include the range of plastic arts, from calendars in stores nationwide, a deal worth $30,000 in sales.
According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. The Power of Exhibitions II, a study conducted by Deloitte & Touche and published by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) is a non-profit professional organization for the marketing, promotion, and importance of exhibitions.
CEIR was found in 1978 as the Trade Show Bureau, the center is headquartered in Dallas, Texas (USA). , trade shows are more effective in achieving sales and marketing objectives than direct mail, telemarketing telemarketing, the practice of selling goods or services to customers by means of the telephone or of surveying consumer preferences in telephone conversations. and other sales strategies, which may explain why companies spend $16.5 billion each year on exhibits. But to ensure that your money is well spent. you first have to become trade show savvy, like Perkins.
While trade shows can generate new sales and bring you face-to-face with valuable business contacts, you can generate just the opposite effect with a single mistake--for instance, selecting the wrong show to display your product. The more research you do before venturing into this venue, the better your chances for success.
YOUR CHOICE OF SHOWS
Trade shows are normally grouped by industry, market or product. They range in size, draw and cost, and can be either highly specialized or general in nature. Some shows can bring you together with large corporate buyers, while others enable you to sell directly to consumers or other small businesses. Your task is to find the show that offers the right mix of audience or market, location, industry and price.
For example, expositions are mounted each year by the NAACP NAACP
in full National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Oldest and largest U.S. civil rights organization. It was founded in 1909 to secure political, educational, social, and economic equality for African Americans; W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. , National Urban League and other major organizations. These can be good places to get your feet wet if you want to reach an African American audience and showcase your product or service to conference guests and speakers from major corporations.
There's even a venue for small, black-owned companies that seek to sell African American-themed products to other black-owned businesses in the U.S. and abroad. Twice a year, the International Black Buyers and Manufacturers Expo and Conference brings 1,000 small businesses together for show and sell in Washington, D.C.
You can also reach black-owned businesses and major mainstream corporations at the Business-to-Business Expo, held during the annual Black Enterprise/Nations Bank Entrepreneurs Conference. Ron Riley, marketing manager of Kemi Laboratories, based in Columbia, Maryland Columbia is a census-designated place and planned community in Howard County, Maryland, United States. It is a suburb of Baltimore, and, to a lesser degree, Washington, DC. It began with the idea that a city could enhance its residents' quality of life. , took a booth at the Expo last year in hope of finding people to distribute the company's professional line of hair and skin care products to hair salons A hair salon (also called 'Hairdresser' and 'Hair Parlour')is a place where one goes to get their hair cut, as well as styled, highlighted or coloured.
There are many different types of hair salons that one can choose to go to. . "We signed up seven or eight new distributors on the spot," says Riley.
THE ART OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE
Exhibiting at trade shows has also helped corporations make transatlantic connections. Just ask Curtis Symonds, executive vice president of affiliates, marketing and sales for BET Holdings Inc.
"At last year's National Cable TV Association trade show, we began talks with Direct TV of Japan to distribute BET on Jazz in that country," Symonds says. One year later the two companies struck a distribution deal that will show BET's cable program to thousands of people in Japan.
Symonds has this advice on working with international distributors at trade shows: "The language barrier is strong, and you may need to prepare by acquiring the services of an interpreter. Also, in the U.S. you can charge one fee to cover the whole marketplace. But you may have to alter your prices when dealing with an overseas company, depending on the value of the U.S. dollar in that country."
The U.S. Department of Commerce offers the Certified See certification. Events Trade Program, which gives U.S. embassy assistance to companies participating in trade shows overseas. (See sidebar (1) A Windows Vista desktop panel that holds mini applications (gadgets) such as a calendar, calculator, stock ticker and Vonage phone dialer. It is the Windows counterpart to the Dashboard in the Mac. See Windows Vista and gadget. , "Useful Info on Expos," for contact information.)
TAKING YOUR SHOW ON THE ROAD
When you add up the cost of hotel, airfare air·fare
Fare for travel by aircraft.
Noun 1. airfare - the fare charged for traveling by airplane
fare, transportation - the sum charged for riding in a public conveyance , freight, booth space, signs and premiums, these shows can run you well into the thousands of dollars. Here are some lessons Perkins and others have learned to make your trade show experience a money maker--not a budget breaker breaker: see wave, in oceanography. :
Choose the right show. Lusetha Rolle has become savvy about picking the right shows for Cadtech Group Inc., her computer-aided drafting and design firm. The Silver Spring, Maryland-based company creates drawings of mechanical parts for government aircraft and architectural floor plans.
Rolle's six-year-old company earns $600,000 a year, and several of her clients resulted from contacts made at trade shows. She budgets about $3,000 each year for trade show exhibiting.
"I go to very specific shows where I know the attendees are looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. drafting services or engineering support, rather than general membership shows," the 38-year-old says. This direct-targeting approach has paid off with major contracts from Northrop Grumman Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) is an aerospace and defense conglomerate that is the result of the 1994 purchase of Grumman by Northrop. The company is the third largest defense contractor for the U.S. , Baltimore Gas and Electric and Alliant Techsystems Alliant Techsystems NYSE: ATK is a major US aerospace and defense contractor with sales of approximately USD $3.6 billion (fiscal year 2007)  and strong positions in propulsion, composite structures, munitions, precision capabilities, and civil and sporting .
To ensure a particular show will be profitable for your company, contact the exhibit manager and ask a few pointed questions. Is a heavy volume of foot-traffic expected? Which days are high traffic and which are low? Which major industry buyers can you expect to see? What kind of sales have other vendors made at this show?
Plan ahead. It's best to hit the trade show floor with a plan of action. Rolle, for example, begins her sales pitch to potential customers long before she gets on the plane.
"I always send letters to companies before the show, letting them know my booth location and how they can reach me at the hotel," says Rolle. "I know who I want to do business with, and I don't sit back and hope they approach me. I seek them out."
The same kind of forethought fore·thought
1. Deliberation, consideration, or planning beforehand.
2. Preparation or thought for the future. See Synonyms at prudence. should go into what kind of display you will have. As president of 21st Century Expo Group, Ray McFarland has created attractive and eye-catching exhibits for dozens of clients, including Mobil Oil, Toyota, the NAACP and the National Education Association. McFarland suggests, "If you've bought a 10 x 10 ft. space, re-create that in your warehouse, shop or home before you come to the show. Do a dry run. Make sure all of your products will fit in that space and decide how you will present them."
Get a good spot. Ideally, you want your display set up in a location that has a steady flow of foot traffic. McFarland advises that you try for an island space. "That gives you exposure on all four sides of the booth and greater access to your exhibit."
It's more likely you'll get a pick of prime locations if you turn in registration materials early, McFarland notes. But, while some organizations do give early birds the best spots, others charge an additional fee for prime locations such as those near the exhibit hall entrance or in a corner. According to McFarland, you can expect to pay $100-$200 extra to locate a 10 x 10-ft. booth in a corner location.
Cut costs where possible. Depending on the size of the show and the industry it addresses, an average 10 x 10 ft. exhibit space will cost you anywhere from $500 to $1,200. For example, a 10 x 10 ft. space at shows sponsored by groups like the Congressional Black Caucus Congressional Black Caucus, organization of African-American members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Founded in 1970, it addresses legislative concerns of African Americans and other minority citizens, such as employment, welfare reform, minority business , the NAACP or the Urban League can cost $1,000-$1,200. The same-size booth at a large science or computer trade event can cost up to $1,500.
Says McFarland, "If you're a small company with a limited product line, you'd probably want a 10 x 10 ft. space. If you're medium size with a considerable amount of merchandise, you might move up to 10 x 20 ft."
It's not so much the size of the booth, but what you put in that space that can run your budget through the roof.
For example, within a 10 x 10 ft. booth, you're likely to pay $3,000 for a basic display unit. Add lights, graphics and other custom features, and the cost can run up to $15,000. Other average costs include $85 for carpet rental, $50 for a draped drape
v. draped, drap·ing, drapes
1. To cover, dress, or hang with or as if with cloth in loose folds: draped the coffin with a flag; a robe that draped her figure. table, $40 for chairs, and $80-$100 to install electrical lines for a standard 500-watt outlet for lights, computers and audio/visual displays. McFarland adds that you can expect to pay $150 for a telephone line and an additional $50 to rent the phone. Most trade show organizations offer freight handling services, which include transporting your materials from the loading dock to your booth and back to the dock. The cost is $30-$50 per 100 pounds.
Pool resources with others. Some black businesses have joined forces at major trade shows to create more visibility for their products.
At last year's Book Expo America, Perkins and five other African American business owners exhibited near each other to form what he jokingly calls "Black Street."
"We did this strategically to have a bigger presence for African American products within a mainstream show," he says. While each business paid for its own space, together they created an impressive display for bookstores seeking to carry African American-designed mugs, glassware and stationery products.
Use the right staff. At the supershows, where attendance can stretch well into the thousands, you'll want to have at least three or four staff people on hand. McFarland warns that "the person who does well in telephone sales back in the office may not be good in a booth dealing with people face to face." Salespeople sales·peo·ple
Persons who are employed to sell merchandise in a store or in a designated territory. can spend up to 30 minutes wooing customers over the phone in the office. They won't get that chance on the trade show floor.
"You have about 45 seconds to draw them in," says Rolle. "You have to be quick, concise and have some buzz words buzz word
Informal a word, originally from a particular jargon, which becomes a popular vogue word
buzz word n → palabra que está de moda
on hand that will get your ideas across right away." You'll want your booth staffed by people with high energy who don't mind standing for long hours.
There are definite no-no's when dealing with the public. For example, don't crowd your booth with too many product offerings. Have a focus so that potential buyers aren't overwhelmed o·ver·whelm
tr.v. o·ver·whelmed, o·ver·whelm·ing, o·ver·whelms
1. To surge over and submerge; engulf: waves overwhelming the rocky shoreline.
a. . Be sure not to get so wrapped up in talking to Noun 1. talking to - a lengthy rebuke; "a good lecture was my father's idea of discipline"; "the teacher gave him a talking to"
rebuke, reprehension, reprimand, reproof, reproval - an act or expression of criticism and censure; "he had to one customer that you ignore others who stop by. Have enough staff on hand to greet each person who visits your booth. Don't be afraid to interrupt an ongoing conversation to acknowledge a new visitor. And be ready to roll when the show starts. There's no bigger turnoff than stopping to look at a product only to be told, "Come back later when we've finished setting up." Chances are, the visitor won't.
Put attention grabbers to work. "The average trade show attendee at·tend·ee
One who is present at or attends a function. See Usage Note at -ee1.
a person who is present at a specified event
Noun 1. coming down the aisle determines within 15 seconds whether to spend time at your booth," McFarland says. "You must have some kind of eye-catching graphic or signage that makes them stop."
He suggests using creative and bold graphics or halogen halogen (hăl`əjĕn) [Gr.,=salt-bearing], any of the chemically active elements found in Group 17 of the periodic table; the name applies especially to fluorine (symbol F), chlorine (Cl), bromine (Br), and iodine (I). lights to advertise your company's name. Computers, live audio, and video demonstrations also help you stand out from the competition. Rolle wows potential clients with an animated computer demonstration that features rotating ro·tate
v. ro·tat·ed, ro·tat·ing, ro·tates
1. To turn around on an axis or center.
2. 3-D images of machine parts and electrical components.
"I showed the presentation to a buyer from Baltimore Gas and Electric during the Maryland/DC Minority Supplier Development Council Opportunity Fair. She was so impressed, she brought her associate over to the booth. They ended up writing a $3,000 contract with us. And we paid only $300 to do that show," says Rolle.
Follow up on leads. Follow up is the key to turning exhibit floor contacts into sales contracts Sales Contract
Contract between a seller and buyer for the sale of goods, services, or both. . After spending time "Spending Time" is the first single released by Christian artist Stellar Kart.
The lyrics describe the band members desire to spend "more time with God". "Sometimes it’s a real struggle to spend time with God. on the exhibit floor with an enthusiastic representative from the book division at Target, Perkins recalls, "I had a package of samples sitting on his desk before he got back to his office in Minneapolis." The result? Target wrote an order for 2,500 calendars. Now the company has requested samples of new calendars for 1999.
While Perkins had immediate results, other entrepreneurs may find that it takes persistence and patience before the leads pay off. Rolle spent two years following up on a lead she got at the Virginia Regional Minority Supplier Development Council trade show. She was determined to get a contract drafting floor plans for Alliant Techsystems, managers of a Virginia military base.
After talking to the firm's buyer on the trade show floor, Rolle says, "Every time I saw her at a show, I'd talk to her. I sat next to her at banquets and chatted her up at receptions. When the show would end, I'd send faxes and newsletters keeping her informed about our company." Finally, Rolle was asked to bid for a job. Now, Cadtech has a half-million dollar contract to draw plans of the facility showing the base's compliance with OSHA OSHA
Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a branch of the US Department of Labor responsible for establishing and enforcing safety and health standards in the workplace. regulations.
Says Rolle: "If you're at a trade show, there's no reason you should walk away without a sale or some contact for follow-up business."
Useful Info on Expos
Here are a few resources to help make your next--or first--trade show a success:
* The Center for Exhibition Industry Research has the world's largest database on the exhibition industry. CEIR CEIR Center for Exhibition Industry Research
CEIR Central Equipment Identity Register (UK cell phone database)
CEIR Computer-Enhanced Infrared
CEIR Corporation for Economic Industrial Research publishes reports, facts and figures on exhibit industry trends. Visit CEIR on the Web at www.ceir.org for a look at some of those materials. To obtain the brochure, The Power of Exhibitions: Maximize the Role of Exhibitions in Your Marketing Mix, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to CEIR at 4350 East West Highway, Suite 401, Bethesda, MD 20814; 301-907-7626.
* The U.S. Department of Commerce helps businesses interested in international exhibitions select high-quality trade shows within their industry through its Trade Fair Certification Program. For more information about this program and other forms of assistance, call the U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Information Center at 800-872-8723.
* Exhibitor Magazine (www.exhibitornet.com) has an online resource for trade show professionals that contains industry research, case studies and magazine articles. It also features an extensive list of books on trade show marketing.
* The Trade Show News Network (www.tsnn.com)is another online resource that provides trade show updates, information about vendors, plus ideas and suggestions.
* Two good reads on the subject are Guerilla Trade Show Selling by Jay Conrad Levinson, Mark S.A. Smith and Orvel Ray Wilson Ray Wilson can refer to: