In his latest column for Inside Asian Gaming, Dr Brian To looks at the importance of modern day trade shows to business strategy and the failings of some companies to capitalize.
By Professor Dr Brian To
Professor Dr Brian To is a global strategist and senior practice professor with over six advanced degrees in business, management, policy, Chinese business and managing change. He consults to several Asian governments and militaries, Fortune 500 corporations and ultrahigh net worth individuals and their family-owned businesses in Asia and North America. Brian presently coaches several country leaders, corporate CEOs and entrepreneurs focused on personal and professional effectiveness and revenue expansion strategies. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
With many countries experiencing subdued growth and financial forecasts being recast, China has been busy setting itself a 6.5% growth target for the year and will undoubtedly implement new growth drivers and accelerate more liberal free trade initiatives to reach its target.
Yet, while country leaders are busy engaging policies and new plans for revitalisation, the mere mortals of industry are readying for yet another year of tradeshows, expos, meetings and roadshows to pursue revenue expansion strategies. For all of the advantages that social media can provide, it can be both expensive and disappointing which is why face to face advertising remains so important – provided it is done right.
Earlier this year I attended ICE at ExCel in London where I was reminded that preparation is key to facilitating “yet another trade show” both on the part of the exhibitor and the roving attendee, who has to move quickly through the aisles in practical walking shoes. In almost every instance – well over 80% of the time – that I walked past an exhibit, no representative approached or made any supportive or welcoming non-verbal gesture that indicated, “come inside my booth”, “how can I help?” or “Do you have a burning question?”
Perhaps on the third day of such an event one could expect such apathy, but not on the first day of what is a major opportunity. Given that preparations and set-up arrangements can also cover two to three days in advance of a trade show, there cannot be any forgiveness for poor attitude or apathy. Trade shows are particularly expensive today and given they are an essential part of most corporate sales and marketing strategies – particularly for new product roll outs – the excitement of these new products and services should be matched by the enthusiasm of the professionals presenting them.
It is predicted that there will be 150 million global travellers by 2020, up from 122 million in 2016, and while most of these travellers are tourists, many are also business tourists looking for property, business opportunities and attending conferences and trade shows. This fast growing segment represents an enormous opportunity and it seems absurd to let them slip away when they are right there in front of you.
I previously mentioned that preparation is key to maximizing opportunity at trade shows given the spiralling costs of both attending and hosting, particularly since many of these shows are now becoming even more hyper-competitive with everything from contests, entertainment, food and beverages and even scantily clad men and women used to attract immediate attention to the booth.
Here are some preparation ideas that might just help you avoid falling victim to missed chances. The starting point is to ensure the design of the booth and your displays are at least attractive, together with your brochures and business cards. It also helps if the team representing your company have undertaken a course of at least a few days in understanding how to employ non-verbals, human behaviour and advanced interpersonal communications. Leaving any of those skills to chance and assuming that your representatives already have these skills is gambling at best. All skills need to be revitalized and refreshed at least bi-annually.
These skills, both verbal and non-verbal, as well as cultural education, cross selling and sales training skills are critical at all trade shows in order to maximize event opportunity given that with almost all prospects we only have nanoseconds in which to entice prospects to our lair.
Get ready and enjoy!