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Challenges, problems, and triumphs -- from a manufacturer's perspective.

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Planning the Perfect Trade Show

Ten tips for CHA Winter Show exhibitors.

by Sue DiFranco (December 20,2004)

(Note: This article is reprinted with permission from Fun Facts Publishing.)

True trade show success hinges on proper planning, especially for a show as large as the CHA Winter Show in Atlanta. Here are 10 tips for success for vendors who are exhibiting.

1. Promote To Buyers Before The Show.

Obtain a list of pre-registered attendees from show management. CHA is offering this database to exhibitors for $350.00/labels, $550.00/disk. The deadline for ordering is January 3; the list will be mailed on January 10.

Send a direct mail piece to attendees – marketing sheets, brochures, or even postcards. Make sure you list show specials, new products, and your booth number. Give them a reason to visit your booth – incentives like "Mention this postcard at the booth to receive a discount/gift/special" really do work!

Follow up with an email blast. Remind the recipients of show specials, incentives, and your booth number. Email programs such as Intellicontact can make this part of marketing simple. To learn more visit www.funfactspublishing.com/email.htm.

2. List It Online.

Make sure you list complete information about the trade show, including your booth number and show specials, on your company website.

3. Train Your Staff.

They should know the product line thoroughly and be able to answer any questions that may come up. It’s always a good idea to do some role playing before the show – go over every possible scenario you may expect to encounter with buyers and other booth visitors (members of the media, other influential people in the industry).

4. New Products? Promote them in the Innovations Showcase.

The Innovations Showcase is a highlight of the CHA Winter Show, one of the first areas buyers visit. Exhibitors are welcome and encouraged to display their new product releases here. Visit the CHA web site to learn more (please note, the deadline is December 17).

5. Get Media Exposure.

One of the benefits of exhibiting is the opportunity to display your press materials in the CHA Press Room. This is the meeting ground of all media in attendance – newspapers, magazines, television stations, and radio stations from all around the world.

Send in your media kits prior to the show (the deadline is January 28), or you can hand deliver them to the press room during move-in.

CHA recommends providing at least 100-150 kits. If there are any left by the close of the show on Tuesday, you or one of your staff can pick them up.

6. Research, Learn, Discover.

Walk around the show and get a feel for the new products, new companies, new trends. Visit the booths of the consumer and trade magazines and introduce yourself. Industry trade shows will provide you with some of the best insight and education you'll receive all year.

7. Be Social!

Take part in as many activities as your energy will allow. These events are a great way to network and get to know others in the industry. As large as the scrapbook industry is, bonding and making new friends happens naturally because we're talking with others who actually understand what we're going through! Michael and I have found that each new show feels like a reunion with some of our greatest friends.

8. After The Show, Stay in Trade Show Mode.

At least for a few days! Hold a post-show meeting with your staff and analyze the show. Use these reviews and analysis to begin making plans for the next show - repeat what worked, and improve anything that didn't. (The next trade show will be ScrapbookBIZ in April 2005, followed by the CHA Summer Show in July 2005, and MemoryTrends in September 2005.)

9. Follow Up!

One of the goals of any smart exhibitor is to collect leads, as well as sales. If people aren’t ready to buy at the show, make sure you get their business card and/or contact information and follow up with them. The truth is, so few people actually perform this crucial step, and it's easy to understand why -- once you’re back in the office, trying to catch up on regular work activities usually takes up most of your time.

Try scheduling in your "Follow Up" activities, and stay focused during that time. Use direct mail, email, and/or the telephone. If you'd like to contact all of the attendees, CHA also offers a post-show attendee database. The cost is the same as the pre-show list, and is mailed out in April 2005.

10. And Finally...Relax.

Take some time for yourself, do whatever it is that relaxes you and makes you feel good (non-business related, of course!). You've made it through an entire trade show, which is no small feat. Take some time to relax and regroup - you deserve it!

(Note. Fun Facts Publishing offers a variety of services and publications related to scrapbook businesses of all types. Visit www.funfactspublishing.com where you can sign up for a free email newsletter, the Platinum edition, and a new publication shipping this month: Inside The $3 Billion Scrapbook Industry: Statistics, Research, Analysis, Forecasts & More - The Only Complete Industry Resource for Scrapbook Professionals.

To read previous columns by "Vinny" (various manufacturers, writing anonymously), click on the titles in the right hand column.)



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