By Donna Wells
Making the Most of Shows
As the fall approaches it is that time again to get ready
for the 2012 International Window Film Conference and Tint-Off™ and the
SEMA Show! Ask yourself, why should I participate in trade shows and conferences?
After all, will this benefit me? In a word, YES—YES, it should!
The real question is how to make the most out of working a trade show?
Working? Yes, trade shows are work, even if you are not purchasing a booth
and spending long hours speaking to people in a confined space, you are
still “working” the show. You are meeting and greeting potential vendors
that you would like to do business with and you are scoping out the competition
(and they are checking you out too!). Finally, you are connecting with
people you may not have seen in years. If you know me personally, you
know that I absolutely love working trade shows—always have and probably
always will. I have learned through the years how to work the show and
how to benefit from the show regardless which side of the booth I am standing.
Here are a few tips that might help you succeed in your trade show investment.
Trade shows are not company-paid vacations. Trade shows are a business
investment. Ask yourself, “How will this show benefit my company? Will
I gain insight on how to improve my business? Will I learn new installation
or sales techniques? Will attending the show help my bottom line? Will
I gain more than I will invest?”
If you answer yes to at least three of these questions then
you should strongly consider investing in the show. Many trade shows will
offer continuing education classes that will benefit your business. I
always try to take at least one class a day per show day. So, for example,
if I were attending a show for three days, I would spend at least three
hours in continuing education classes. I always learn something new and
I meet other business-minded people outside of the window film industry
who have similar interests and experiences to mine. I like to “pick their
brain” on how they deal with various situations.
Look and see who is setting up a booth at the show. Decide which companies
will benefit your business most and go to those booths first. Is there
a particular manufacturer that you have wanted to spend time with or is
there a new product/service that you’ve wanted to see? Schedule meetings
with those companies and stick to the time reserved. Salespeople at trade
shows are more casual in their sales approach and this might be the right
time to decide if you really want to do business with a specific company.
Companies who purchase trade show booths are looking for new business
and sometimes offer amazing show specials as well.
Attend social breakfasts, lunches and banquet awards. Go to one of the
sponsored functions, even if you do not know another person attending.
I do and I usually go alone. I meet other individuals and I hope to gain
a business card or two that will lend itself into a business partner or
consumer along the way. Ladies, my favorite is the SEMA Show breakfast
for women. It’s always a fun event and though it is early in the morning,
they give away great gift bags.
Sort it Out
Finally, when you get back to the office with your show bag full of goodies
and your pockets filled with business cards, what do you do with all of
that stuff? Do you sort through everything or do you put it in a corner
to collect dust until you throw it away? That bag is filled with good
intentions, but you need to make it happen. Sort through the bag and put
the business card information into your computer and send everyone a “Thank
you for taking the time to speak with me” note. We all like being appreciated
and more importantly remembered. Order (and install) samples you thought
were beneficial to your company. Put the brochures you picked up into
a folder for safe keeping. Remember, you took time off from work, paid
for a hotel/car/entertainment, etc. Make the most out of the treasures
you collected. It could lead to a year of prosperity!
Donna Wells is the division head of the wholesale
division at Window Film Depot.
© Copyright 2012 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.