June '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 5 J U N E P R I N T W E A R || 101 training on how to help make that problem go away? • Do you offer special financing, terms, or discounts for buying at the show or within a certain time frame after this show? • Do you have any self-promotion pro- grams or discounts? • Are there any new or special marketing programs? • What is your service policy and product guarantee after the sale? Is it in writing? Take notes and get that person's business card. When you're at education events and workshops, be social. If you're normally shy, this is the time to fake it. Introduce yourself and pass out some of those business cards you brought. Don't be too worried that you're walking the same trade show as your competitor. Get over it and meet other attendees. They have connections and sources, too. They also may have more ex- perience and the exact answer to your most challenging problem. For the price of a coke, coffee, or a smile, they may be willing to share ideas and solutions. Industry col- leagues can turn into business partners and lifelong friends. Pay attention to the exhibitors' marketing strategies, including preshow marketing. Look at their exhibits and displays. Is the message clear? Was the message memora- ble? Did the exhibitor share any examples that you thought were effective? Think about how you could implement these strategies into your company's future mar- keting campaigns. AFTER THE SHOW Attending a trade show isn't easy, and it isn't a vacation. It's enough to wipe out anyone. But before you pass out on your bed and certainly before you head for home, take some time to organize the information you've gathered. A clear plan of action and knowledge of who you will follow up with, how you will follow up with them, and when you will follow up helps ensure the time and money spent at the show was a worth-while investment. Always be sure to: • Organize your information and fol- low-up activities by priority. • Follow up with new contacts and vendors after the show. • Connect on LinkedIn and other so- cial media platforms where possible. • Be gracious. If you think you invest- ed a lot to attend the show, imagine spending thousands more to exhibit. Write a short note or email thanking a new contact for taking the time to help you find answers and solutions. Remember your purpose and why you wanted to attend. This is an event with activities to help with professional devel- opment as well as business growth. This is where ideas and solutions flourish if you know where to look. You may find those solutions in the education room from an industry-specific trainer. You could find the answers in the middle of a presentation or demonstration in an ex- hibitor's booth. The answers to your big- gest questions could be found in a chat over coffee at the food court with event staff or even a stranger who is now your new best friend. Trade shows are an effective tool to help you and your business grow. By following some of these suggestions, it should help you maximize your experience, have a positive outcome, and gain the most from your attendance.

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