For several years, companies have been cutting back on the amount of trade shows and conferences that they participate in. They have also been cutting the number of people that they send. With the economy making a slow recovery, conferences are now coming back up as a line item budget. It’s hard to justify the expense of the registration plus the travel. However, with some planning, attendance at a conference may be exactly the boost that your station’s bottom line needs. Following are some different areas to think about in planning your attendance at a trade show or conference.
Going to trade shows gives you the opportunity to meet with people that you may not necessarily have the funding to travel and meet with otherwise. The multitude of contacts that you can arrange meetings with abound: clients, colleagues, mentors, mentees, marketing, and media.
There are wonderful tools like email and the phone that help advance business goals and make getting things like sales done more efficiently. However, there simply is no replacement for the personal relationships that develop when meeting people outside of the normal day-to-day routine. A camaraderie evolves that aids in attaining business goals in the future when you need to deal with those people again.
The key is to find out who is going to the same show and arrange meetings in advance. Too many times people think, “I’ll meet up with so-and-so there.” And, it doesn’t happen because time goes by so quickly.
New contacts can be made and existing contacts bolstered when you spend time going to networking events. Who knows, that one person you’ve been wanting to meet in person for a long time might just happen to be at the same event you decide to go to. Look at the conference schedule ahead of time to see what events are being planned. Also, keep an eye out for the receptions and events that happen that are not published because they are last minute. Some are invitation only so be sure to find that out.
The main purpose of creating conferences is to educate the industry on topics that are timely and relevant. Much thought goes into arranging speakers and sessions. Look at the conference schedule ahead of time and plan what sessions you will attend. This will also give you the time frames when you can arrange meetings and attend networking events.
Arrange time to meet with technology companies to see what they have planned that could increase your sales and reduce your station’s costs. Vendors are at the show to create solutions for companies. They work hard to solve issues. If you have a specific issue, bring it to a company and brainstorm. You might be surprised at the plethora of different solutions that are sparked.
Check Out Competition
Let’s be honest: we all have to keep an eye on our competition so that we can stay ahead of them. Trade shows are a wonderful mechanism to doing just that. Set aside time to see what your competition is doing and how it could affect how you are doing business, if at all. Doing this keeps a company from being surprised or blindsided by competitor’s announcements.
Winning awards helps with morale and selling spots. Plan on entering and attending awards programs at trade shows and conferences. Be sure to take photos and grab a pocket video camera. This can give even more longevity to your conference attendance by creating content for your status updates and websites.
There is no replacement for the relationships and spontaneous ideas that germinate when attending trade shows and conferences. If you follow a plan, you can get the most out of trade shows and conferences so that they contribute to your station’s bottom line.