The trade show floor must become a multi-use stage. Every minute spent on the show floor should produce measurable results that can be taken back to the office and used as your company marketing plan coordinates for the coming year. As we have said hundreds of times since last year – whittle your show schedule down to the most important shows, then take half of the staff you have been taking – this is business, not a party. Have a meeting with the remaining associations that sponsor your "go to" shows and get some concessions on their part. Believe me they do not want to lose you, too. Get assurances from them that the show floor will not be empty of either exhibitors or attendees – and get some pricing concessions if this does happen. Negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate. We negotiate all day long with our clients and now the show associations are in the same place – use this to your advantage.
You have read all of my reasons in previous emails as to why you should not miss the show, most importantly that rumors about your company will fly. So rethink completely not going – but do not spend last year’s budget. If you are in a 10’x20′ offer to move up at no charge and fill an abandoned 20′ x 20′ – this could be your breakthrough year. Take this opportunity to make appointments for all of your salesmen who crisscross the country flying to see clients – there’s another savings! Downsize your space, or get half of it at a discount for staying and supporting the show. Again – one or two key products, lounge area with coffee, juice, water service, maybe a private meeting area, a plasma with your company video running, and then some new twists – invest in conducting customer research and look for lower cost ways to do this, use internal resources (your booth people – salesmen, customer service reps, R&D people, and most importantly top management to reconnect with their company clients and hear what they have to say) to talk with customers, do focus groups to probe emotional responses from customers. Reconfirm the customer perceptions and needs right on the trade show floor. Outsmart competitors by paying close attention to what is happening with your target audience(s) and how these customers are specifically reacting and changing their habits during an economic downturn.
Gimmicks are out; reliability, durability, safety, and performance are in. New products, especially those that address the new consumer reality and thereby put pressure on competitors, should still be introduced, but advertising should stress superior price performance, not corporate image. Successful companies for the long term do not abandon their marketing strategies and cut marketing budgets in tough economic conditions – they adapt their tactics with the specific goal to increase their market share.
We have plenty of ideas to share with you – in fact click here [Lounge] and see two treatments from $12,000 that can give you everything you need to make a statement at the show. Then let all of your personnel know that you will be doubling up in rooms, that everyone is expected on the show floor everyday, that this is a lean and mean show year – but everyone will be better for it and most importantly we will all remain in business. Isn’t that key?