Announcing _____________________ Event! (fill in the blank with your firm’s name)
If your facility were a trade show and your clients were to attend, what part of the show would they find most interesting? Would that interest provide a direct benefit to your bottom line—and to theirs?
I have attended many trade events, and I have designed, marketed and installed even more. The exhibition vertical is undergoing change but, in the end, a trade show or similar industry event still offers a few interesting points of discussion and comparisons to the way you run your (no longer print-centric) printing business.
First, printers love trade shows, not in large numbers as they once did, but the industry’s main shows are often crowded events teeming with new products, services, introductions, smoke and mirrors, commentary and sometimes controversy.
Understanding that the purpose of most trade shows is to present a neutral arena of ideas, services and products to interested attendees, here is a key question: If you were to present your services and skills at a trade event, how would you rate your shop?
In the current economic downturn, I don’t know many people who visit shows for the sake of the show. No, people attend shows to learn, gain knowledge and expand their ability to thrive in their current or next job. I attend for other reasons, i.e., to identify trending ideas, understand what works and what does not (lately it’s more about what does not work than what does), and often to measure the levels of trade show dialogue and engagement, without which the exhibition is likely to fail.
Please take a moment to consider these questions:
Chances are, only a small percentage of your clients or prospects will make these contacts. And how much will they actually learn?
Your shop is like the floor of a trade event or conference. When clients arrive, what will they see? More important, what will they learn and how will you benefit?
Knowledge gained is not knowledge lost. In fact, knowledge gained by your client from you is the bedrock of an expanding relationship characterized by dialogue and engagement.
Not every dialogue can be about sales, sales and more sales! No, you and your team must offer knowledge, laying down inside information at the altar of new business. Everyone on your team needs to be ready and able to present your brand and your message without expecting a sale!
Your plant tour or trade event is not a program to sell your client. It is a chance to become one with your client, to explain the scope of your traditional and new services, and, yes, the links you have established to connect online and offline technologies with the sole purpose of increasing profits (both yours and your customers’), and providing a much stronger return on marketing investment (ROMI) on all that you deliver.
So, what exhibit do you think your customers would like the most? Premedia, press, postpress, distribution, data, customer service, quality control (or lack thereof), your front office, your back office, you, your sales team, your creative group, your lack of a creative group, consultative services, traditional print, digital print, the awards you won, the samples you present, your communications offering, the plan to keep your audience an integral part of your future and in turn your profits?
What about your involvement protocol, your customer desk, your media convergence evangelist, your vertical application skill set, the list of magazines (online and offline) you subscribe to, the list of blogs you read, your information database?
Perhaps your answer is none of the above. OK, so fill in the blank: What is your visible client attachment point? _____________________.
Take a guess. I bet you will be wrong. No, I am not being testy, just honest. What you think is the pinnacle of your shop will be viewed differently by your sales team, by nearly everyone else in your organization, as well as by your customer, client or prospect.
There is only one way to know, and I am not telling. Why? In the end you will not believe me. You’ll say, “No way, I can't believe that is true!”
I am offering a solution to this puzzle: Just figure out the acronym TVIEOSYTWBTSEOSWBDPCOPATVTLW, and you will have the answer.
But, before we end this discussion, read on. The best is yet to come.
Again, if your shop were a trade show, how would you get the client to attend?
Most firms rely on trade show management to handle getting the crowds. As a shop owner, you rely on your salespeople to bring in customers. In both examples, you would be wrong. Trade show managers sell you space and some assist in filling the aisles with attendees. But in the end you are in charge of attracting the right visitors and targeting customers to attend your event.
The same goes for your sales team. They will look to the financial advantage of getting the client, prospect or ex-client to the shop, and you may need to overrule them and take control. Get your clients to the event via a personalized and integrated marketing program that exhibits the skills and services you offer.
Once you have your audience at the event, maintain communications with them by expanding the in-your-face component of dialogue and engagement, all the while positioning your salespeople in a supportive role. The event itself is neither the time nor the place for selling.
Lastly, after your newly educated and much more knowledgeable clients or prospects leave, they will want to keep it touch about relevant subjects. Expand the bond (nearly 74 percent of all leads generated at a trade show never are contacted) and remember: you and your shop are key components in the chain of communication, a chain that your marketing client lives and often dies by!
Need the solution to the acronym, e-mail me your request at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the answer.