improve your ROI at the media trade shows

When you’re at the trade show, make sure to learn about the latest technological offerings in the vendors’ area.
Dickson’s Inc. sales exhibit booth at trade show, Crystal Springs, Mississippi, c.1920. Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go, and the taxi’s waiting outside my door. Man, that was a flashback that many of you reading this blog will get because you heard it on the radio! September seems to be trade show time this year. The RAB confab is happening next week in sunny Orlando, and the week after, the NAB presents the Small Market Television Expo in Phoenix.

The first thing to think about is, Why do these media folks always travel to warm sunny places for their conventions? That’s a rhetorical question by the way. The second, and certainly more important question to consider is, How do I maximize my personal or corporate investment in attending a trade show? That one is a serious business question that you should think about before you try to upgrade your seat on Southwest.

If you are attending either of the shows I mentioned, or maybe something similar, such as a business, trade, or agricultural expo in your hometown or state, make sure you think strategically about what you hope to accomplish. Will you be participating as a vendor, as Efficio Solutions will be at both the RAB and the SMTE, or will you be attending strictly as a way to explore what is happening in the media space? Here are a couple of things to consider in order to maximize your ROI:

  1. Be inquisitive. Make sure you take plenty of business cards. I realize that seems obvious, but one of the best ways to get return on your travel dollar is to dive headlong into meeting people. The folks who attend these events are the ones committed to their industry, like you are. They are there for a reason. Find out what it is and why. Network and meet people from different parts of the country and discover what works and what doesn’t in their operations or markets. Be willing to share the same type of information about your market, including business climate and best practices, and you will make new contacts and friends who can be valuable in the future. You may also find that there are many things you can take back and apply that will make you more valuable to a customer of yours.
  2. Tune in to technology. Talk to the vendors that have paid to be in front of you with their wares. What type of new products and/or services should you make yourself available to learn about? Remember that www thing was new a few years back? Some thought it would never last, and look now how digital and web-based marketing solutions have changed the media space in the last ten years. Think of satellite radio a few years ago and the advent of HD2 and HD3 channels on your local television. If you are to survive, you need to educate yourself and be knowledgeable about how these evolving technologies are affecting your clients’ marketing opportunities, and in turn, your potential commissions.
  3. Finally, think about what you will learn and where the future opportunities may be for business because you paid attention. What categories of our business may be getting hotter and which ones may be slowing? The auto category for radio and television is a key category. Duh…great point, Chris! But what is happening in that space? One example is the recent evolution in dashboard technology by all major auto manufacturers, which could certainly have a long-lasting impact on your sales back home. Many of the recent trade shows have even included panel discussions with experts in the field of auto, retail and other categories that give you a 35,000 foot view of what leaders in that space believe will be happening in the next few months or years. Take notes and be ready to share with key clients back home, and discover if they are indeed on board with what you heard at the convention. It’s a simple way to show some expertise and problem solving capabilities — all because you sought out information, listened, and applied that knowledge to your real world.

If you are making the effort and incurring the expense associated with attending one of the media-specific trade shows I mentioned above, put some energy and focus into a game plan. Trust me…the bars will stay open late so you won’t miss out on cocktails.

By Chris Crawford, General Sales Manager, Efficio Solutions

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