June '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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100 || P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 5 TRADE SHOW TIPS tic badge for all the world to see. That's how exhibitors know your name. • Determine when the exhibit hall opens and closes. • Get a map of the show floor and prior- itize your route. • Create a list of must-see booths and want-to-see booths. • Research the exhibitors online, so you'll have a clearer idea of who you need to speak with and what questions to ask. • Consider making appointments with those exhibitors. They are often busy and appreciate your consideration of their time. • Attend a continuing education session and invest in your professional develop- ment. • Bring plenty of business cards. It's bet- ter to have 100 extra than not enough. It's also a subtle sign that you take your business seriously. • Set aside some time to explore and see what's new. You could discover a help- ful solution for your business. • Be organized and create a simple fol- low-up system for any notes, product recommendations, pricing information, and business cards from suppliers and other people you meet. Don't shove everything into a promotional bag that you picked up on the way into the ex- hibit hall. Thousands of other people carry that same bag. DURING THE SHOW Soak it all in—including any keynote speak- ers or welcoming sessions before the exhibit hall opens. Treat every minute as a learning opportunity, and remember to review your plan. Also, check out the trade show direc- tory because it will have the most up-to-date info. You can do that online, or sometimes a happy trade show staff member passes it out with an event guide. Grab one—you need it. Exhibitors may have dropped out or reg- istered at the last minute, or seminar times or room numbers may have changed. This guide also highlights networking opportuni- ties and any after-hours networking events. Don't know exactly what to do at the show? Here are some suggestions: • If this is your first time attending a show, consider walking the aisles and perimeter to familiarize yourself with the layout. • Don't grab every brochure exhibitors offer. Be selective. It may seem like one catalog now, but multiply that by 100 booths. • Collect information that's of most in- terest and importance to you. Many exhibitors will gladly mail catalogs, lit- erature, and samples. Also, ask if every- thing you need is online. • Stop at the end of the aisle to think about key conversations and products. Record the most vital information in a small notebook. I like the kind that has built-in pockets for business cards and receipts. • Bring a light carry-all bag for the ma- terials you gather during the show. If possible, avoid plastic bags with thin plastic handles, which tend to cut into your hands and become unbearably heavy after hours of walking. • Let exhibitors know that you're on a schedule. They want to make the best use of their time, too, and will gladly cut to the chase. • You might have to push to get the an- swers you really want. If the booth staff doesn't have the answers you require, ask who you should contact. • Be more than an adult trick-or-treater. Don't swing by booth to booth, scoop- ing up promo items and catalogs as if they were candy. • Keep some over-the-counter pain re- lievers with you. Don't be intimidated by the event. Ev- eryone was a newbie at some point. Don't be shy about bypassing booths that don't fit your plan. Be polite if the exhibitors ask a question, but be prepared to say you have an appointment and need to keep walking. At the same time, keep your eyes open for networking opportunities. Industry leaders, speakers and seminar presenters are often available during the trade shows and are great people to know. Stop and talk to the exhibitors. They have tons of answers, insights, and experiences. Make the most of your time and ask smart questions. It's okay to say, "What do you guys do?" However, there may be better ways to get information. Here are a few im- portant questions to ask instead. • How will your service or product help me sell or save more? • Who is the best target audience most likely to buy this product, service, or style? • What are your best sellers? Why is it so popular? • My target audience is ________. Do you have any sales or marketing strate- gies to help me with this niche? • My clients' number one challenge is ________. Do you have anything that solves this challenge? • My number one headache is ________. Do you have any solid ideas or free TRADE SHOW STATS Do you need more reasons to attend a trade show? Here are a few attendee facts. 1. According to a 2012 report from Exhibitor Magazine, an average of 38 percent of attendees are first timers. 2. 90 percent of trade show attendees have not been called upon face to face by any exhibitors in the 12 months prior to the event. 3. 92 percent of trade show attendees come to learn about what's new in products and services. 4. 77 percent of executive deci- sion-makers find at least one new supplier at the last show they at- tended.

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