Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Show for us in Show Biz

There’s a trade show for everything, right? Well, I’ll bet you didn’t know that there is a trade show for trade show people. Yes, that’s right! Rooms filled with professionals from all over the world representing trade shows for everything from medical devices, air conditioning and plumbing, plastics, to…. well….you know… stationery!! We’re there to learn how to be better at what we do so that the results we deliver meet our customers’ needs.

Expo! Expo!, is produced by IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events). This year it was in Las Vegas.

I attended numerous educational programs. One of the most valuable was an all-day session on attendance promotion. I was reminded that no matter what kind of business – trade show management, rep, manufacturer, retailer – “if we build it” does not mean that “they will come.” (Recognize that “Field of Dreams” reference?) We have to be active, and creative to retain our customers!

We shared many of the promotional tools each of us uses to motivate attendance. The NSS direct mail includes postcard announcements, pre-show planners and, of course, badges. Our e-newsletter, PaperClips is circulated monthly, more frequently as we near the Show. We advertise in the leading trades -- Greetings, etc. Gifts & Dec, Scrapbook Retailer, Party & Paper Retailer, Giftware News, and Gift Shop and have a consistent publicity effort from October to May that produces news in print and online. I brought home a lot of neat “new media” ideas that I’m really excited about (stay tuned)!

At the exhibition part of Expo Expo, I am a buyer! I walk the floor to see vendors and suppliers to our business -- my only opportunity to meet new service providers and schmooze with the ones I know. And, they all do it up to let me know my value to their businesses. I received a lot of information from exhibitors before Expo! Expo! -- and I truly “felt the love!” It reminded me of what we tell our exhibitors: Buyers attend the Show to see you!! They want to know you want to see them, so invite them to your booth ahead of the Show. Do this by mail, phone, email, advertising – whatever works best for you.

Here I am with Jim Hamilton, the Director of Sales & Marketing at the Javits Center.

Jim and others from the Javits Center were at Expo! Expo! to promote the venue to other trade show organizers.

Other exhibitors in Expo! Expo! included contractors (like Freeman, the decorator for the NSS), companies who produce badges, and badge holders and others with lead retrieval systems, professional photographers, and more.

Here’s our friend Marty Bear of PMSI. He’s in the promotional items business.

As you can see, Marty works a lot in bags and badges!

All in all, it was a great experience. I came away with some great ideas that we’ll put in place for our Show. And it certainly is fun. I hope you love your work the way I love mine!

- Kelly

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