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Thread: Trade Show

  1. #1

    Default Trade Show

    I just returned from attending a trade show in Akron, OH. The show was tiny, but it is my bread and butter industry, so I believe I should be there. What are your thoughts? If a particular industry is 60% of your business, would you attend the trade show and be there for the customers? Or would you think, I've already conquered this industry, I should spend that trade show money trying to nurture another industry (one that you know you are involved in)?

    I only spoke to a couple of customers. And one time I got lost in what I was explaining, and had to regroup. Kinda felt like an idiot. I wasn't planning on attending next time, but at the end of the show they give away a free booth and I won. So I will be there next time.

    I heard someone talking about another trade show (different industry), I investigated it, and it looks promising. I'm going to visit, to see if it is a good idea to attend in the future. My product is used in many different industries, figuring out where money is best spent can be difficult.

  2. #2
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    People go to trade shows. Buyers go to trade shows. Trade shows are where any given industry is going to be. I think it's great that you're going to them. Just being there and having a good presentation is worth the value that you get back in perceived credibility and marketing.

    In some industries if you aren't at the trade show you don't exist.

    I live in tradeshow HQ and have been to quite a few over the years just as a consumer and fan of new products. COMDEX, CES, SEMA, MAGIC, NAB, Nightclub and Bar and there's a heavy equipment one that comes every 2 years that we like going to just because the machines are awesome.

    I also worked on the strip for years and have been front and center during pretty much every trade show and convention to ever come to town. I've seen the backend of how it works, deals are made, what people are doing while at the shows and what they came to see.

    So personally I love trade shows and understand how important they are to people in an industry. It's a whole nother world and it's kind of awesome.

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    I sometimes attend a show (not display at) in that Akron Center and it is tiny. Trade shows for the most part are not as useful as they used to be. A decade ago we were displaying at 26 trade shows a year and were always looking for ones that might be worth adding. Now we do about 6 and just dropped two. Still they can be worthwhile. I have one coming up in a month where we spend 6 grand just for the space but the show draws in 24,000 people and we see a lot of customers and potential customers from all over the world. Some of the trade shows that we used to do no longer even exist. There was one at Navy Pier in Chicago that we had a 5 year waiting list to even get in and it was great. They moved it to McCormick place to accommodate more exhibitors and the show died. A few years after the move the show shut their doors.

    Shows are a big hassle. In my case I have to drag equipment and a booth display, wait in a marshaling yard, move in, park somewhere else, set up, work the show, tear down, wait in the marshaling yard, load, drive home. One show in Vegas we had to set up 3 days in advance and wait 3 days to tear down. That was a big show with 125,000 attendees.

    Is it worth it. I guess even if you don't sell anything you do get to meet a lot of people and get a lot of exposure. In some cases it is well worth while but in others............
    Ray Badger, Turbo Technologies, Inc.
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  4. #4

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    Man 26 a year, that's rough.

    I agree Turbo. I believe the advent of the internet has lessened the necessity of trade shows. They are a hassle, and if you are as small a business as we are, no one is running the office if we are at a trade show. We used to have a big show in McCormick as well. I always heard people complained about the workers there, the people who installed water, air, electricity and big displays. Too expensive and bad attitudes, but McCormick still hosts big shows. Maybe labor there has gotten better, I hope it has.

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    Some cities are worse than others and some of the things you run into are terrible. Labor can be a big issue and if you take equipment fork lift fees can be horrible as well. I did one show in Philadelphia one time and our fork lift fees for 15 minutes work was $ 3600.00. There was a booth across from us that had a lot of equipment and their forklift fees were $ 17,000.00. That show moved around the country and never went back to Philly. Also at that show the hotel and convention center were not too close and only a handful of people showed up.

    If you need to rent something that too can be bad. We usually run 3 tv's in our booth. I had one not work at a show in Atlanta and inquired about renting one. It was $ 300.00 to rent one. I went out and bought one for $ 279.00. I always took chairs with me. At a show in Vegas I was talking to a friend who rented 2 chairs and he looked to see what he was charged and it was $ 300.00 for two chairs you could buy for 50 bucks.

    If you go to a show and come back with sales or prospects it does feel worth while but I have done shows when not a single retail prospect walked down the aisle. I never did those twice.
    Ray Badger, Turbo Technologies, Inc.
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    At a show in Vegas I was talking to a friend who rented 2 chairs and he looked to see what he was charged and it was $ 300.00 for two chairs you could buy for 50 bucks.
    We get to the show a day early and go buy nice ones from Target for about $40 per chair and then either ship them home or just leave them, either way it's a savings.

    Smaller shows are likely less cost-effective compared to larger ones, just because you increase the odds of meeting new potential customers at larger shows. You should find shows that match up with the types of customers you want to meet who will be at those shows looking to meet someone like you and focus all your energies on that. You do need to show up again and again to exist in some industries.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Freelancier View Post
    We get to the show a day early and go buy nice ones from Target for about $40 per chair and then either ship them home or just leave them, either way it's a savings.
    Unfortunately, some shows won't let you do that - they require you to rent furniture or AV equipment from their exclusive vendors. Ironically, I've run into that most often at shows/conferences for open source software...
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    Unfortunately, some shows won't let you do that
    We've done a bunch of large shows in heavily restricted situations and no one has told us we couldn't bring in our own chairs or furniture. That's absurd.
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    I have no doubts that some shows are that way but I have not run into any. I have had some that won't let you carry in anything by hand. Some won't let you assemble your booth if it requires wrenches or ladders. A show that gets too restrictive or too money hungry isn't going to stay on our show schedule long.
    Ray Badger, Turbo Technologies, Inc.
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  10. #10

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    The next time we go to a trade show, I'm taking 8 extra chairs and a big "Chair Rental" banner.

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