Truth or Consequences
by Helene Smith
Tips on Being an Even Better Tradeshow Attendee
We’re all over exhibitors when it comes to tradeshow follow-up, and with good reason: there are some amazingly big and even smart companies that have failed to make sure they get return on their tradeshow investment.
But what about tradeshow attendees? Are YOU one? What is YOUR responsibility as a tradeshow attendee, given that you or your boss decided you could spare the time and money to attend, for instance, Graph Expo?
Did you carefully review your company’s current and potential requirements before attending? Have you been gathering intelligence regarding competitors’ plans? Did you set up appointments with vendors in advance?
- to enhance a product or service launch;
- to begin or reinforce branding;
- to spend face-time with customers, peers, and partners;
- to show strength, growth, and presence in the industry;
- to reinforce existing customers’ experiences with the company and its products or services, and
- to bring prospects further along in the purchase cycle via strong one-on-one communications.
Companies spend many thousands to many millions of dollars to get in front of you at a tradeshow. It would be a shame for you not to take advantage of it.
At Graph Expo, did you pass by booths you should have, but didn’t, spend time in? Did the booths look too crowded? Were you intimidated by all the suits? Was there a lack of promotions (e.g., signage, music, giveaways) to draw you in? Or were you just hungry, and promised yourself you’d go back after lunch?
Well, you missed a unique opportunity that many of your competitors could not afford to take advantage of. You were already ahead of the curve by even attending the show, because the best minds from the best companies in our industry were there to talk to you. You could have talked to the engineers who actually build the products you use. They love to talk about their products, and they really want to know what you think of them.
Believe it or not, they also want to know what you would like those products to do for you, that they are not doing now.
And get this little-known gem: many companies will develop versions of their products just for you, if they think there’s a possibility a greater portion of the marketplace may someday be interested in it. This could bring you into very close, regular contact with engineers and specialists who will be working hard to make your custom version work well.
Also, and especially in this day and age, you should not assume that smaller booths don’t house very important companies and technologies. In many cases those smaller booths are a testing ground for a major organization that is studying the value of a particular show, for their company. Another possibility is that the vendor has a small booth only because they plan to have one-on-one meetings with potential partners who may sell their technology, or have a very specific product that will not appeal to the broadest group of endusers.
OK, have I bummed you out? No worries. Here’s how to fix it: pull out your show guide and start reading the online and print trades regarding Graph Expo. Now start calling or emailing the companies you should have visited, and tell them you were at the show and missed them, but would like a product demonstration (or whatever it is you would like) as soon as possible. If you don’t want to talk about a sale, just tell them so. Tell them what you want. You are both spending a lot of money to be at the same place at the same time. It’s not too late to remedy a missed opportunity, but do keep these points in mind for that next show on your schedule.