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    Trade Show Traffic

    How to Become More Profitable at a Trade Show

    Sept. 9, 2021
    Trade show exhibitors crave discussions. They can be a source of insight into your profession beyond the products and services they are marketing. Here are some questions to ask them.

    Most contractors do a poor job when attending a trade show. The object is not to wander down the aisles, gawking at the women in the booth with the hot chicks, while snatching as much free swag as you can carry. The object is the learn how to become more profitable. Here is how. 

    You become more profitable when you sell more or when you reduce expenses without impacting sales. Everyone exhibiting thinks they can help you do one or the other.  

    The exhibitors who attend the show are there because they believe they have something so compelling to offer that enough contractors attending the show will part with sufficient money, that they will be able to cover their direct costs of travel and the opportunity costs of the time it takes for travel and booth duty. You see, exhibiting at a trade show is about as much fun as exhibiting at a home show, with the added joy and expense of travel and hotel food. 

    Chances are good that the exhibitors at the show talk to a wide range of contractors. As such, they can be a source of insight into your profession beyond the products and services they are marketing. Your job is to extract that information. 

    At the end of the show, go over your notes.  Select the best idea or opportunity and pursue it. 

    Treat every booth as a mini seminar. You will not waste the exhibitors’ time by asking questions about the trade.  The exhibitors will welcome the opportunity to talk.  If the discussion is unproductive, say no thanks and walk over to the next booth. 

    Remember, at a trade show, you are the customer. You have all the power. No one can make you buy something. 

    Have some questions ready. Be prepared to take notes. Either bring a notebook or take notes in your phone. This will be important later. Here are a few questions you can ask…

    1. How can you help me make more money? 

    If you do nothing else, ask exhibitors how they can help you make more money. Ask it at every booth. The function of a trade show is not charity. It is commerce. So, ask everyone how he or she can help your business.  If they cannot come up with an answer, move along. You have something better to do.

    2. What is new in the industry?

    You probably get a lot of your industry information from your distributor.  Your territory manager might know a little bit about the contractors he calls on and what his superiors share, but he seldom gets an industry wide picture.  For exhibitors with a national footprint, you are presented with an opportunity to learn about industry changes on a boarder scale.  

    In addition, a territory manager might be guarded in what he shares. He will only share the information he wants you to know. 

    Be prepared to probe what the exhibitor says. Ask follow up questions, such as, why is that? How so? What else is happening?  How is that going impact us?

    3. You must talk to a lot of contractors.  How is business for them?

    You should always be interested in how other contractors are doing.  If the industry is doing well and you aren’t, this should lead to some introspection.  Do not fall into the trap of thinking that your market is just unique or different.  It’s not.  Instead, ask yourself, what are you doing wrong?  How can you improve?  

    Conversely, if other contractors are struggling, while you are not, this should also lead to some introspection.  Your boat is rising higher than the tide.  Why?  What are you doing well, that other contractors are missing?  You want to get a good handle on it because you want to do more of it.

    4. What is the smartest thing you ever saw a contractor do?

    Be prepared, a sharp exhibitor will redirect this to his offering.  You should tell the exhibitor you want to know the smartest thing other than buying his product or service.  If you ask this of the right exhibitor there’s no telling how much gold you might mine, which is the reason you ask the question.  This is also a great question to ask other contractors at a national show.

    Are there other questions? Of course. Make a list of your questions.  Keep them in your phone so you can remember when you are at a show.

    Remember to take notes when you learn something new or interesting, including notes about the products and services that can help you make more money.  At the end of the show, go over your notes.  Select the best idea or opportunity and pursue it.  You can have a great trade show experience, but if you fail to take action, you might as well skip the show and go to the movies.

    Have you registered for the Service World Expo yet?  It’s the biggest residential show in the industry.  Registration includes keynotes like Traction author, Gino Wickman who is leading a three-hour workshop and Zig Ziglar protégé Krish Dunham.  There are more than 40 breakout seminars, the trade show itself, and evening networking events.  Service World is being held September 21-23 in Louisville, KY.  Register at www.ServiceWorldExpo.com.