Monday, February 3, 2014

Trade Shows- Why attend? How to attend?

I have been attending the Long Beach Hair Show since 1989.  Most of those years, this show was on Super Bowl weekend.  But as most attendees are female, it did not hurt the attendance. 

Since I sold my business, I have not exhibited at this show.  (Frankly, it has had some ebbs and flows in terms of its popularity.)  But this year it seemed to be well attended and the quality of the attendee seemed to be pretty good. 

As I talk to many different vendors throughout the show floor, each vendor sees the show completely differently.  Some vendors said the show was WAY down from last year.  Some vendors say it is the best show is years.  And others say that it was about the same.  The show organizer told me that the ticket sales over the past 3 years has been about the same.

So why the huge disparity from the vendors?  I would say it is because each vendor is at a different stage in their development.  Some companies are brand new to the show.  Some have been coming for years.  And some are still building a presence. 

For the new vendors, they have exciting booth presence, a solid product, and positive people working the show.  These vendors steal the show usually.

Existing vendors have already been seen by these regular attendees.  What makes them stand out and require attendees to look again?  They MUST have new items, new booth, or be constantly be renewing relationships with existing customers



The rest of the vendors just feed off of the traffic of the show.  Many of the vendors sell the same product for the same price.  The only thing that sets them apart is their booth location and the people behind the booth.  Unless you are in the business of doing trade shows, I see know reason to attend to see vendors like this.

But for me, each time I attend a trade show I learn.  In my 6 hours at the show, I likely had 60 conversations.  In each conversation I ask, what's new and exciting?  People would tell me about their brand, their personal life, or their customers.  After the show, I will follow up on a couple of solid product leads... that is new places for me to sell Mirabella.  Second, I will follow up with new relationships that I made.  Perhaps nothing will come for my business, but I can always learn from others.  It can give me a great or different perspective about the industry.

The only people that I hate to visit with are people who are stuck in a rut.  They act like nothing new is happening.  They think only negative thoughts of the future.  These people will drag you down! 

Personally, I like speaking with the people who are actually making new things happen.  I spoke to a manufacturer who was us 20% on the west coast... who had been selling out here for 20 years!  I spoke to a new brand that opened 150 new salons from the show last year... and expect to do even better this year.

Its all about your attitude isn't it?  If you hang around with a bunch of people that think everything is bad... it likely will be.  If you speak with people who are positive about the future, you will likely think the same.