The 10 Things That You Can Do to Prepare for Graph Expo 16
- Cancel the paper;
- Stop the mail;
- Put the living room lights on a timer so that potential burglars will think someone is home although even the most inept have seen “Home Alone,” so they know that one already.
Business trips — and especially those involving trade shows and conferences — should follow the same rules. Given the costs associated with the trip: Time away from the office and money involved in airfare, lodging, food and entertainment, it would be wise to follow a checklist so as to make the most from your investment. And that’s really what it is, an investment.
If you merely show up at Graph Expo 2016 in Orlando next month, you will see innovation, old friends and a mouse with ties to printing (see below). But if you put some work into preparation, you can get so much more out of it.
In no particular order:
1. Talk to your salespeople — “Hey gang, you all know that I’m headed down to Graph Expo in late September. What could I come back with that would help you to do your job better? What are your clients telling you they need that we do not currently offer? Are there markets that we should be going after him getting into that would require equipment investment? What about the administrative part of your job? What keeps you from having more face-to-face contact with your customers?”
2. Talk to your customers — “Good morning, Tim. As you know, my company tries to stay ahead of its customer base. We try to, as Wayne Gretzky said, ‘Go where the puck is heading.’ As such, I’d like to know more about your future, your company’s challenges and what I might be able to do to help.
Let’s talk about what’s keeping you up at night so that when I stand at a booth talking to a tooth-capped VP with a suspicious tan, I can listen to his ‘Speeds and Feeds’ speech and hear how it will impact the way we service your account.”
3. Talk to your CSRs — “You all are important, too. I don’t always say it, but you are. I’d like to hear from you and find out what you are hearing from our clients regarding their business, as well as to know what efficiencies we could employ that would help you to do your job better.”
4. Talk to your vendors — “Will your company be at Graph Expo? If not, why not? If so, who will be in your booth? What will you be talking about? What innovations do you have that would help my company to compete? Can we set up a time to talk?”
5. Talk to your competition — “Are you going to Graph this year? Could we meet for a cup of coffee and talk? I think it would be a good idea for us to have a working relationship.”
6. Talk to your trade association — “I would bet that I utilize about 10% or less of the capabilities and services of my trade association. I’d like to change that. Who will be at the show and what can he or she tell me that I don’t know? Is there something that I should bring to the show— financials or an equipment list— that would help?”
7. Talk to a Millennial — Wait, what? Increasingly, our lives are being influenced by the next generation. Whether it’s as customers, prospects or potential employees, this new breed of consumer has communication styles and needs that must be understood. As the future of your business is being shaped, doesn’t it make sense to shape it around the future of your target market?
8. Read this line and consider its implications — “Ten years from now, 70% of our business will come from customers we do not currently have, selling them products and services we do not currently offer.” It was from a presentation given in 1993 and made its way onto a lot of PowerPoint slides.
Think back 10 years and ponder it simple brilliance. Now, apply that same rule moving forward. If you are thinking of skipping Graph Expo, consider this: Your ‘70%’ will be in Orlando waiting for you.”
9. Take stock in your entire company — Sit with a blank pad of paper and a pen and go over each department, making a list of strengths and weaknesses. Put the list down and then pick it up from time to time, especially as challenges arise between now and the end of September.
10. Consider your marketing — Printers help their customers with marketing but do a woefully inadequate job of marketing themselves. You want to have something to point to so that you can show your prospects that you practice what you preach. One of the best compliments and lead generators is a successful marketing campaign. When a client says to you, “Could you do this for us?” there is likely to be a no-bid order coming your way.
Visit a city on vacation without first visiting Trip Advisor to learn what you should do and see? Never. Are you going to Graph Expo? If not, why not? Your future is in the aisles. The answers you seek are in the heads of the people sitting around you at lunch or next to you during the presentation. By investing some time into careful preparation, your investment in cost can be maximized.
Oh, and don’t forget to come see the tall guy in the Idealliance booth.
P.S. I had a coaching client from Florida named Mickey Evans. At the time, he was 70 years old (this was easily 15 years ago). I have no idea where he is now. Anyway, he told me a story that I’ll never forget.
His real name was Mortimer Evans and he was the favorite nephew of a childless aunt and uncle. They were horrified by what they thought was a terrible first name, so they took to calling him “Mickey.” The aunt was close friends with Walt Disney’s wife and one day they were having tea in New York. Mrs. Disney was complaining about this new character that Walt wanted to introduce, a mouse named, “Mortimer.” Well, the aunt told her about their nephew with the same name and how they have given him the name, “Mickey.”
Mickey Evans told me, “I can’t prove it, Bill and— other than a newspaper clipping from an interview long ago — I have no proof. But I believe that Mickey Mouse was named after me, a printer.”