How Many Years Of College To Be A Fashion Consultant Back-to-School List – 10 Tips for Trade Shows

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Back-to-School List – 10 Tips for Trade Shows

There’s a new year beginning now – the school year.

Whether you have children attending for the first time or

finishing university, it’s always hectic to get into the

back-to-school routine. And, if you don’t have school in your

family, there might be your own remembrance of the

excitement of starting afresh and learning something new.

This is a great time to review your trade show program in

the same way you prepare for school.

Pick Your School = Industry

It’s a business school question – Are you a railroad or a

transportation company? In other words, what business are

you in? If you consider your industry a railroad, you will be

concerned with rolling stock, laying track and logistics. If you

consider your industry to be transportation, you will consider

the railroad as a method of transportation – the same

principles apply whether you run rail cars or airplanes.

There’s a engine, a carrier compartment, and now most

importantly, customer focus. Railroads have to lay track,

airlines have to have airfields, so there’s difficulty in

physically moving to meet customer demand. But railroads

adapted by allowing piggybacking – truck trailers on flatbed

rail cars. Airlines serve more markets with the hub and

spoke system. You should look deeply into your own

industry and determine customer focus for the next 12

weeks and 12 months.

Pick Your Classes = Shows

While your firm is part of an Industry, in times of slowing

business there are two avenues you can take to garner

more sales. One is to hunker down and bore deeply into

your niche, the other is to expand into other industries. In

both cases, you may want to look at trade shows beyond the

ones you have on your current docket. For example, if going

deeper into your industry niche, you can consider local or

regional shows, international expos, or shows which focus

on discrete research in your niche allowing you an

intellectual advantage. If expanding into other industries, you

have a wide range of choices but the advice is to research,

research, research before investing.

Pick Your Teachers = Find the Best for You

Not all executives of Fortune 500 companies went to an Ivy

League or MIT caliber school, but considering the vast

number of colleges and universities, a disproportionate

number of these executives are graduates of the elite

universities. Translated to trade shows, that means you

should align yourself with well regarded shows, organizers

attuned to forward thinking, and professional organization

and management.

Pick Your Major = Marketing Message

When you declare a major, it’s your intention to complete the

requirements and pursue a career in that field. People

remember that you started off in theatre, switched to

psychology, graduated in medieval history and then became

a salesman. At a trade show, you don’t get a second chance

to change your marketing message. All the promotion

before the show, the exhibit and goodies need to revolve

around The Message. In essence, a trade show is not the

time to change majors, confuse people and say “I really

don’t know what I’m doing here.”

Pick Your Books = Marketing Tools

A trade show is not an isolated marketing event but a

continuum of your marketing efforts, so you won’t be limited

to books. Along the way, your marketing tools are selected

for the best impact on the right people, whether you use

print, video or the Internet. Once you understand the

demographics of your audience, you use the right medium

for the message. For example, a firm with a high-tech

operation will expect to see detailed information about your

firm on your web site – it’s the first place they will look A

low-tech firm will expect print materials and detailed

manuals. And, yes, there are still people who don’t have

computers, don’t like computers and will never use the

electronic goodies in your life as appreciatively as you do.

Pick Your Clothes = Exhibit

We always want to look our best. Just as your clothes are a

representation of your personality, your position in a firm

and your sense of style (how you view yourself), so too is

your exhibit a representation of your company. It’s the first

physical impression many people have of your firm. It tells

attendees at a glance if you’re an ordinary company or a

daring one. If you are high fashion (which may mean

expensive and faddish) or if your firm has strong traditional

roots. People absorb not only the color and the design of

your exhibit but the language of the signage and the image

of your graphics. They look at the presentation of the

information you have available – whether it’s simple

brochures or high tech interactives. And they judge you both

in a overall sense and by subconsciously picking apart

those segments which they either strongly like or dislike.

Pick Your Friends = Staff

You can’t always play with your buddies, but you do want to

be in a group which balances strengths and weaknesses to

get the job done. Selection of the right trade show staff is the

most important factor in the success of a trade show. If your

exhibit is an award winner design but your staff is bored,

can’t answer attendee’s questions or is boorish, most

people will walk away. Time is too short for the attendee to

teach your staff proper trade show etiquette and sales


Stand Up to Playground Bullies = Pick Your Battles

During the trade show process, there will be times when

you think something isn’t fair, or is too expensive or really

inconveniences you. Sometimes, it’s because you don’t

understand the contracts and the flow of how a trade show

is put together. When in doubt, just ask for an explanation.

You don’t have to take “That’s the way it is…” for an answer.

Find the top level of authority and make your concerns

known. A losing battle for the current show includes

contracts signed which obligate you to use certain labor

pools at certain rates. You can make your views know for

next year, but this year it is in stone. On the other hand, if you

find a competitor next to you (this happens very rarely as

show management is very conscious of this potential

squabble), ask that one of you be moved. Make sure your

complaints are legitimate. When you pick the right battles,

you should win. Otherwise, you’re just a whiner or a gossip.

Pick Your Sports = Extracurricular Activities

Trade shows are seldom just a time to set up an exhibit,

showcase your products, and leave. Increasingly, trade

shows are bracketed by educational sessions, social

events, informal networking time and fund-raising. Golf and

tennistournaments are becoming fashionable either as a

fund-raiser or just social time. Firms will entertain clients

during the non-show hours by utilizing a hotel Hospitality

Suite or an off-site venue. It’s easy to overload your

calendar, overfill your glass and plate and think your only job

is to have a good time. Wrong! You are your company’s

representative, so whatever behavior you demonstrate is

what people perceive as acceptable by your company. It’s

best to be on your best behavior.

Pack Your Lunch = Take Care of Yourself

When you’re on the road, it’s easy to fall into the grab-a-bite

routine as you rush through the airport. Or the

I-deserve-this- dessert syndrome as you dine alone waiting

for the next plane. Too much sugar, too much booze and too

much stress take their toll whether you’re going to or

coming from a show. Experienced business travelers have

these words of wisdom –

* Listen to your normal body clock as much possible

* Acknowledge when you need rest

* Drink lots of water and fluids

* Don’t drink alcohol when flying

* Maintain an exercise routine, even if it’s just walking

around the airport

* Wear stylish and comfortable clothes – don’t look like you

just came from the gym. You will be more quickly accepted

and get better service when you dress professionally

* Pack lightly. There are no naked people where you’re

going – there’s always a store

* Have an emergency kit with you. Whether you have a

headache, you arrive at the hotel past room service hours,

or you feel lonely, take care of yourself. You should take a

medicine kit, pocket knife, small flash light, snacks, extra ID

and pictures of the family.

Going to school for the first time is scary but then it

becomes routine. Keep a little bit of that first-time fear in

your trade show routine. It will make you more aware of your

surroundings and opportunities.

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