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Successful Trade Show Marketing

Successful Trade Show Marketing

March 8, 2002
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" The type of handouts you use can have a major impact on the results you obtain. "

Well, it's that time of year again: Later today I'll make my hotel reservations for the summer InterNext, and I have my eye on a few regional gatherings as well. Adult Industry Trade Shows are one of the best learning, networking, and marketing opportunities available, besides being loads of fun! Here's how to make the most of them, from an exhibitor's point of view:

It has been my experience that effective networking is the key to success in this business, and for it to be effective, it should be simple. Find a way for your company to completely maximize its resources without undue costs or distractions, and apply it to an overall marketing strategy. One effective tool for this is by exhibiting at industry events and trade shows.

Booths and Beyond
If it's important for your company to have a booth at a trade show, then be sure you use your space wisely. If you know that your company will have to spend a ton of money to draw customer interest, then spend it first on a professional sales staff that will focus on 'working' the crowd — not just on manning your booth. The booth is simply used for show; it is the tool you use to draw the interest you need: your sales staff is what will turn that interest into sales.

Pay your staff competitively, treat them well, and show them that you trust in their professional abilities. Your sales staff can make or break your company; take care of them, and they'll take care of you!

Use simple objects in your booth that attract all of the senses: Color, Sound, Smell, Touch, etc. Do not just dump money into wasted space or on distracting objects. People are naturally drawn to something they can identify with, and this will allow you to hold their interest and make them want to know more... Since you made sure that your sales staff has all the necessary and important information needed to do their job, they can now turn these interested prospects into paying customers.

Happy Handouts
One of the keys to a successful trade show presentation is to offer a really compelling handout. The type of handouts you use can have a major impact on the results you obtain; so many companies are content to leave a stack of poor-quality photocopies on a folding table and call it "marketing." These flyers are often ignored or discarded, making no impact whatsoever on the passerby — your potential customer!

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to see several innovative handouts that were both memorable and highly effective. These included content and software CDs, Chinese take-out boxes full of "fortune cookies," flyer folders (passed out around the show floor by the obligatory attractive "booth bunnies") that included a pewter money clip featuring the company's logo — along with a crisp $5 bill. Sex toys, glow sticks, flavored condoms, 'rolling' papers and 'hangover' packs, even custom labeled bottles of beer delivered to my room, and so much more: all of which are real attention getters, and the kind of marketing tool that's guaranteed to make a long lasting impression.

Networking Necessities
One of the most valuable uses (believe it or not!) of show time is networking. The time you spend meeting and partying with other Webmasters can pay off big-time. And speaking of partying, while the nightly parties are a great way to develop relationships that can translate into future sales and opportunities, it's important not to over do it. Many parties last until 4 or 5 am (some even START then!). It can be difficult to be "on" and fresh a few hours later, and be able to maintain that pace for several days on end — especially for us, err, slightly "older" folks:

Once you return home, give people a few days to recover, then follow up via email or telephone with your new contacts. Let them know that you were serious about any commitments you may have made, and thank them for their time. Always offer something before asking for anything, and be a really good listener.

I have found that to be successful with trade show marketing, the 'Straight-Up' approach works best. First, ask your potential prospects what their SPECIFIC needs are, then show them how your company can fulfill those specific needs. This will create what I like to call the Big "T" — Trust, which in my humble opinion is the foundation of every successful business relationship. Whether you use a trade show booth, handouts, "face time," or a combination of all of the above to attract new business and opportunities, without trust, you won't enjoy success.

Cheers to Your Success! ~ Ayrora


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