Well, here it is — July.
This is the time of year when I have to stop, catch my breath and regroup with my team. The “tradeshow season” really is finished with InfoComm, after having started (at least for me) in February with ISE in Amsterdam. So not only have I been on the road a couple of months now, but so have many members of my team, both for the shows and for client projects. So this is the week we all begin to settle down and ask some important questions.
And I’ll bet many of you are in the same place — physically tired and mentally exhausted.
If you work for a manufacturer, you have spent months getting products and literature together, training on new technologies, and getting the exhibits up to par. If you are a stager, you have been on the road for clients who are doing the same, and just possibly managed a few days off the agenda to see our industry’s shows yourselves.
So, if you are one of us in this situation, here is where you probably are:
- You have an enormous bagful of literature, which you have probably placed someplace in your office alongside all the other literature from previous shows that you have never unbagged. And it will probably suffer the same fate. Hold onto it, it may become a collectors item as the technologies it talks about become obsolete.
- You have a stack of business cards, probably having come out of your pockets or purse along with all of your receipts, and they are now stacked on your desk, and you look at them once in a while as you pass. Some of them have phone numbers written on the back, although you’re not sure that they are the phone number of the person listed on the front of the card.
- You are so busy catching up from the show that you will probably never look at these things again.
- At some point in the future, you will recall that impressive product that you saw at the show, but be unable to remember where you saw it or who showed it to you.
If this is you, and after 25 years in the industry I’ll bet more than one of you are reading this and identifying with it, here are some suggestions on how to make your experience pay off:
- Start, not with the literature or business cards, but with a blank yellow pad. Begin by listing just three or four things that you saw at the show that could be important.
- Now list three or four people that you talk to at the show who are either important contacts that you don’t talk to enough, who could become important contacts, or who are just good industry friends that you often forget about.
Now, dig out those three or four pieces of literature, and the business cards for the people that you listed.
Throw all the others away, you were never going to do anything with them anyway.
But here’s where the change will come in: This year, in fact this week, send out an email to the contact information on the literature to say that you are interested in finding out more about this product. Believe me, having spent some time in manufacturer sales, this is all you will ever need to do. They will chase you. And, since you have expressed interest in a particular product, they will probably have the appropriate person be the one to do the chasing. And if you come out of the show with just one positive change to your bag of tricks, you will probably have paid for the show. If you are someone who had to justify going to the show to your boss, this will be all you will need next year to explain why you need to go again.
Now, do the same with the business cards. If it’s an old friend, or a new one, just shoot them align to tell them how much you enjoyed seeing them at the show, and that you need to do it more often. If it’s a business contact, shoot them a quick note to tell them that you enjoyed meeting them, remind them who you are, and ask them to stay in touch.
See what we have done here? In only a few minutes, we have gotten rid of all that literature, made several positive contacts, and even more importantly: We have put the ball in their court.
Now you can move on. There’s a lot of work to be done. Hopefully, we will catch up before next show season.