The Show Must Go On

Water Quality Products Magazine  – April 2017

Funnel trade show excitement into business advantages back home.

It’s spring again and that means many of you will be attending trade shows and conferences. You may have even worked on new certifications and training programs to improve your expertise. Many of you have traveled to the WQA Convention & Exposition, regional shows or dealer conferences to expand your knowledge base, meet new suppliers, colleagues and customers, and grow your businesses in the process. Well done!

Reality Check

After a trade show, you probably come home, check emails, look at the work piling up and go into catch-up mode. Soon you are in business-as-usual mode. Obviously, your intent was to invest in this show or event and see a return on that investment. You took time out of the field to attend. You may have paid for employees to attend too. What will you do with your excitement?

As a marketing company, we speak with many existing and prospective clients at trade shows and we all have something in common: We are fired up to be there and, in general, are having a lot of fun. We trade stories and advice on what we learned about business, environmental issues and new products. Sadly, much of the energy disappears when we get home.

So here is some good marketing advice to keep the energy flowing when you get back to the office: Use trade shows and events as sales and marketing tools. You invested a lot to attend or exhibit—paramount are time and money—so let your customers know what you learned. New information or product offerings make great marketing strategies and relevant content. Social media posts or email blasts are good ways to convey your excitement and product information.

Established Audience

Customers and prospects who follow you on social media or are in your regular marketing cycle have opted in for your information. If you made time to attend a trade show, make time to follow up on your leads, speak with the prospective partner you met about improving your business, or let your customer base know about the latest and greatest products your company now offers. The show does not end when you get home—you need to market what you learned.

The Water Quality Assn. (WQA) came out with a fantastic research study last year. How many WQA members have downloaded it and adjusted their marketing efforts or messages based on what the marketplace told providers they want? Maybe a few. How many members downloaded and printed it, but let it get buried under a pile? Probably a lot. Don’t let this be you.

While at a show, you may discover a new vendor, supplier or business service that could become a profitable alliance or partner. When that happens, creativity and excitement usually follow. You begin thinking about how to use those services. When you get back to the office and climb out from under your to do list, hold onto that excitement and forward thinking.

Many new prospects we meet at shows have fantastic goals and are excited to collaborate. We exchange ideas, talk about strategies, and even begin to send information back and forth while still at the show—and often for the first few weeks back on the daily grind. Eventually, those discussions end with a statement of procrastination: “I’m too busy; call me in the fall.” Unfortunately, because of the juggling act, that new program or improvement that was requested in the first place falls through the cracks or gets lost in virtual clutter.

Organize & Execute

Change is tough. Nobody likes it, but it is necessary for growth. When you get back to your business, start applying what you learned as if it were a new million-dollar customer. Often, the underlying subject of many articles from my firm and my colleagues is that knowledge is power. Here are some ideas to apply your new knowledge in a powerful way:

  • Use market studies for customer targeting.
  • Use new products or technologies as a marketing showcase.
  • Use scientific studies that affect your geographic area to educate your prospects and customers.
  • Use sales and marketing tools you were introduced to for improving profits.
  • See new services and products as an investment to your business growth.
  • Feature employees who have received new certifications.
  • Announce alliances with new suppliers or partners and how they will benefit your clientele.
  • Find new vertical markets based on new products or services.

Attending trade shows is a great way to increase your certification and catch up with colleagues. It is also the best way to stay current with industry knowledge, position your company as experts, and provide your customers with what they need and desire. Stay in “trade show mode” when you get back to work. Maintain your excitement and apply what you learned, and you will see a return on investment from attending those trade shows.

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