Archive for July, 2008

Buy USA or a Cheap import?

When buying everything on the internet became commonplace, there was panic throughout the exhibit industry.  Display distributors were concerned that businesses would no longer visit their beautiful showrooms and engage in sales dialog with their staff when they could research thousands of product options on the world wide web.   Exhibit manufacturers truly feared that easy access to inexpensive products from Asia would doom their thriving marketplace.  The reality is it never happened.  I have been selling displays, graphics and exhibiting accessories for fourteen years and I only occasionally lose a sale to an import.  Sometimes it takes a little salesmanship to show the client the pros and cons, but there is still value in service and “made in the USA”. When I attend the Exhibit Show in Las Vegas, which is the largest tradeshow for the tradeshow industy, I get to view and inspect all the exhibit properties manufactured in the US and abroad.  The foreigners seem to try to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.  They produce very similar displays, but from what I have observed, the structures are thinner, weaker, and seem to have inferior parts.  Why would I want to sell their stuff when my reputation was built on representing quality solutions from one of the top portable manufacturers in the county?  Featherlite Exhibits, in Minneapolis, www.Featherlite.com has been crafting exceptional, innovative exhibits for about 50 years. The other issue is repairs, warrantys and quick service.  You cannot get that when your broken unit needs to go back to China.  There are interesting perspectives on this issue and I have been quoted on my views in a great article found in newsletter published by Radius Display products, www.radiusdp.com.  Connect to the article below and decide for yourself.   

http://www.e-dition.com/radiusdisplay/issues/200808/feature1.php

Later

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Have display, will travel, will sell stuff

Have display, will travel.  I just returned from the Boulders Resort’s Red Door Spa.  I spent the entire day there getting pampered.  I went to the pool, had lots of healthy snacks, a generous dose of chocholate, a facial and literally lounged around with about 100 other women being rejuvenated.  It was an Arizona Spa Girls event. www.summerspaza.com.  The Spa Girls along with Dena Patton’s Chat, Chew & Chocolate www.chatchewandchocolate.com host a series of wonderful spa experiences for a fraction of the cost of what it would normally be to attend these tony locations.  Plus it serves as a fundraiser for a great cause: Fresh Start Women’s Foundation.  The point I am getting at is that during each event, along with the food, spa treatments and goodie bags, there are a variety of table top vendors offering their wares.  There is a Doctor who analyzes your skin for sun damage. He offers a line of pharmacutical grade skin care products.  There are several jewelry artists, a self defense school and others who were smart enough to snag this exclusive selling opportunity.  They set up their exhibit table and sell to this ready, willing and able captive audience.  For those of you that are innovative and bold enough to ask, there are dozens of events like this all over the valley that are prime real estate for your six foot table display.  Put on your thinking cap and dive into your marketing mind to uncover your next exclusive selling opportunity today.

There are so many unique opportunities to get your company name, products and services in front of potential customers if you are a prepared exhibit marketer. Forget tradeshows and consumer events.  Look for exclusive opportunities to have a captive audience with your buyers

Blogathon update

I am too tired to post much today because I just commented on all the terrific blogs of my fellow blog a thon participants.  There are some interesting new members in the group and I highly recommend taking a peek at every one of their blogs listed  below.  Welcome newcomers.  Happy reading and writing.

Jackie Dishner
http://bikewithjackie.blogspot.com
http://www.thephoenixtraveler.com

Andrea Beaulieu
www.ConspiracyOfLove.net

Mimi Meredith
www.blog.thegoodnessgrows.com

Suzy Graven
http://articles.secretsofthesavvywoman.com/
 
Beth Terry

www.CorporateCowgirl.com

Vickie Mullins
http://www.mullinscreative.blogspot.com/

Michelle May
http://blogs.eastvalleytribune.com/consumed/

Arlene Rosenberg
http://www.leadingachievers.com

Stanley Bronstein
http://stanleybronstein.com
 
Stephanie Angelo

http://hressential.com/wordpress

Quinn McDonald
http://QuinnCreative.Wordpress.com
 
Barbara McNichol
www.nonfictioneditor.wordpress.com
 
Suzanne Holman

http://www.LessonsForYourMillionDollarLife.com
 

Home shows draw thousands

I had the distinct pleasure of presenting an exhibit marketing seminar to over 100 exhibitors who are preparing for the Maricopa County Home & Garden show that will be taking place at University of Phoenix Stadium August 1-3. www.MaricopaCountyHomeShows.com.   What surprised and pleased me was the fact that several attendees had come back to hear the presentation again after attending my last program for the Home Show.  When I asked them why they wanted to hear the same program again they told me that they successfully used some of the ideas I shared, but could not remember them all and came again for a refresher course.  I was delighted, of course, and honored when they shared a testimonial of their successful implementation of my strategies with the audience.  This event is an amazing marketplace for any company that wants to reach homeowners.  It is the largest home show in the southwest and is a woman-owned enterprise.  Thirty thousand people will pass through their doors in three days.  Their website gets over 100,000 hits before each of their four annual events.   I just completed a total backyard makeover and got our flagstone patio, built in BBQ, artificial grass and patio furnature from exhibing companies I met at a previous show.  It’s a lot of fun, so check it out if you need anything to do with your home decoration, building, landscaping etc.

Susan

Benefits-Benefits-Benefits

I was just reading a blog post from Vickie Mullins at www.mullinscreative.blogspot   Vickie owns a graphic design company and has a talented team of designers on staff.  I use Vickie’s services and love her creative ideas, attention to detail and reasonable prices.  Anyway, the post talks about crafting great copy and using headlines that give people what they want.  She offers a terrific list of what people want.  It includes many of the benefits people desire and how addressing those customer needs will capture attention and get their business.  This principal applies to exhibit marketing as well.  When conceptualizing your marketing messages on the graphics you will display on your exhibit, consider the needs and desires of your target audience.  Give them what they want to hear.  Don’t dwell on the features of your product or service. How great you think you are, how you do what you do or how many things you do.  People don’t care how you do it as long as you give them results.   Give people what they want.  Check out Vickie’s blog for the compete list, but here are a few ideas:   People want, value,  to look better,  be healthier, prettier,  save money, be safer, make money, gain prestige.  Next time you plan your marketing strategy or sales pitch don’t forget to emphasize What’s in it for them, the customer, first.

Susan   www.susanratliffpresents.com   www.exhibitexpertsaz.com  www.womensbusinessbootcamp.com

In a down market, don’t stop marketing

I know the economy is tanking and business is suppose to be bad all around, but I am not feeling it at Exhibit Experts.  Our clients seem to be finding the funds to continue exhibiting both here and abroad.  I am glad to see that because the most important time to market your company is when the market is down.

In these troubled economic times, many business owners are looking for ways to scale back on spending.  Often, the first cut is to the advertising and marketing budget.  Bad idea!.  Your business needs promoting, now more than ever.  The savey owner will increase marketing efforts, because the competition will be reducing theirs.

 

One of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business is at a tradeshow.  The Center For Exhibition Industry Research says, not only will you reach 7 times the number of qualified prospects at a tradeshow compared to other types of advertising, but those leads will cost 56% less to close than leads from the field.

 

There are 10,000 tradeshows a year attended by 120 million people who spend 100 billion dollars.  Nine out of ten companies ranked exhibitions as the #1 most useful source of purchasing information, because they could examine and evaluate competing products in one location.

 

Can you really make money from tradeshows?  75% of the attendees surveyed said they would buy something at the next show, while 57% said they’d buy within 12 months.

 

Big business has been capitalizing on the benefits of exhibit marketing for years.  With a little knowledge and some careful planning, even the smallest business can tap into this lucrative marketplace. 

 

To get the most from your next exhibit marketing experience, approach each event with a plan of action. Set specific goals and make the staff accountable.   Decide ahead of time exactly what you wish to accomplish, such as solicit leads, network with vendors or investigate the competition.

 

Image is important.  Create a dynamic display that showcases your product or service in an attractive manner and captures the professionalism and personality of your company image.  Use large pictures and succinct text messages that reinforce your marketing message and explain how you will benefit your customer.

 

Train your sales staff.  Develop a simple presentation everyone will use to engage, qualify and generate a lead from the attendees.  Add some excitement to draw attention to the booth and make sure you follow-up all leads in a timely fashion.  Following your plan will improve your productivity and increase profits at every event.

Susan

 

 

Fairs & Festivals

All across the country there are hundreds of really fun craft fairs and festivals that take place on holidays like the 4th of July. They offer multiple opportunities for exhibit marketing and are a great way to make a living or a quick buck.  I know this because  I started a home-based business after my son was born and quit a real estate career to stay at home with him.  I learned my exhibiting skills from the trenches selling personalized children’s books at swap meets and craft fairs.  The books were made on a computer in four minutes and had the child’s name, family and friends in the story.  I would cart around the books, computer and Garrison in his playpen.  The first time I exhibited was in a lady’s backyard craft fair.  I registered late and because the yard areas were full, I got stuck out in the front driveway.  That actually turned out to be the best spot because everyone had to pass by me to get in.  Every mother or grandmother stopped by to see my baby, then ordered books.  This was perfect because it gave me time to make their books while they shopped and then they picked them up when they left. I think I made about $1000 cash in about 6 hours.  That was pretty good at the time. I loved those days learning the secrets of selling in a booth by hit and miss.  Everything I learned at that backyard marketplace about selling on the fly, decorating my table display and drawing people over to see my products formed the basis for my career in the exhibit industry.  If you are a crafter,  hold regular yard sales or drag your treasures to the swap meet every Sunday you could improve your profits and skills by studying what business owners and corporations have learned from exhibiting at tradeshows and consumer shows.  There are a few great authorities out there to study.  I am one of them, www.exhibitexpertsaz.com or www.susanratliffpresents.com .  The others that come to mind are Susan Friedmann, www.thetradeshowcoach.com, Matt Hill, www.hillgroup.com and Julia O’Connor, www.Tradeshowtraining.com  Check everyone out for the latest tips and tricks to make you a better exhibitor.

Susan