Friday, April 11, 2008

Trade shows, the hidden power!

Everyone knows the obvious benefits of trade shows but what visitors to the show don’t often think about is what it is like to exhibit at a trade show. So in this blog id like to give you an insiders view of how a show is organized, the benefits to your business, the drawbacks and then the real power of a trade show.

Lets start by defining a trade show and the benefits for show visitors. A trade show by definition is a gathering of manufacturers and distributors of products usually intended for a specific market. A trade show is open to all trades persons in that market or industry.

Visiting a show holds some very specific advantages for these businesses. As well as the obvious benefits such as being able to see and feel respective products from different manufacturers, and the networking with other ‘movers and shakers’ within the industry, you can get a feel for the directions an industry is taking.

This last point is the one true advantage of visiting trade shows and it is as important for the manufacturers as it is for visitors. Being able to assess what the market is doing at present and the way it is heading is the true power of a trade show.

Doing it right
For an exhibitor, preparation for a show starts many months in advance. There is a serious amount of organizing to be done if a manufacturer wants to get the best from the show and if even small things are missed, they can have a devastating impact on the results of the show.

Firstly, shows are expensive, very expensive so the first question for a manufacturer is whether it is the right time to show at all. Before a decision is made a manufacturer has to be absolutely confident that his/her products have a ‘niche’, a specific benefit or advantage that they can do, or that their product has that other competitors don’t have or don’t do well.
Usually, this is split into three distinct categories.


All competitors in all industries will compete to a greater or lesser degree with these three tools. As a customer, you want all three, but unfortunately the three never go hand in hand.
One manufacturer of a product will offer high service levels along with a quality product, but then price will suffer.
Another manufacturer will offer the lowest price, but then quality and service will suffer.
In reality, all manufacturers will offer a fine mix of all three to the best of their ability. That is why trade shows are beneficial for visitors. A visitor to a show can clearly observe in most cases where the manufacturer is aiming in the market place and make their choice from there.

Once a manufacturer is happy that they can compete on some level, the rest of the time before the show is spent organizing marketing literature, informing potential clients of the show details, designing stand structures, and the small but vital issues such as hotel accommodation, transport and logistical issues.

On the days of the show, the manufactures sales team will do their very best to highlight the advantages of their product based on the manufactures mix of quality, service or price.

Choosing equipment for your business is a matter of deciding what mix of the ‘three’ you feel is the best for you based on the quality, service or price rule.
A good manufacturers job on show day is help make that decision easy for you to see.

A word of warning here though. If a manufacturer cannot compete fairly on the three rule basis, they will all too often try other tactics. The most common of these is to attack the credibility of other manufacturers. A quality manufacturer will never have to resort to this kind of aggressive marketing; it is a sign of a weak company, stay well clear.

The hidden power
As mentioned earlier, the hidden power of a trade show is the opportunity to observe the direction of an industry. Observing trends in an industry will help prepare your business to adapt to change and it is this ability to be flexible that will quite often be critical in your business surviving or becoming extinct.

In the window cleaning industry, we have seen comparatively small change when compared to technology based industry but the changes we have seen over the last ten years have been significant and will have far reaching effects.

Summing up
Trade shows are an excellent way of assessing the industry you are part of. They provide not only valuable information on the products of individual manufacturers and the manufacturers themselves, but also networking opportunities and the business trends that will to varying degrees affect your future business.

Windex 2008 turned out to be a remarkable show for us a company, all the effort, time and money spent was worth the ability to talk to like minded individuals. For this show we had no sales team, instead all the people that staffed our stand were concept2o owner operators. This provided them with an opportunity to discuss both equipment choice and network with others sharing tips and advice with other window cleaners.

If you missed the windex 2008 I hope to see you at the cleaning show next year.

Best Regards

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd