What's in a trade show?

Not attendees, unless you promote, promote, promote. The Business & Technology Expo going on again today at Cleveland Convention Center is the local trade show company’s effort, they said, to get back the energy and excitement of the former Know Show–a staple in the Northeast Ohio business environment for many years that was suddenly canceled a few years ago because they couldn’t get enough vendors to sign up. The final vote’s not in from the vendors currently exhibiting, but I’ll pass it along when the show’s over.

What’s the future of trade shows? Niche. People don’t have time to go to general business shows anymore. But if you can put together a group of vendors that offer services and products specifically tailored to, say, the litigation attorney industry, or the industrial manufacturers (a la the upcoming Great Lakes Industrial Show at the I-X Center), you’re more likely to attract an audience that might be serious about evaluating and possibly buying the stuff they see at the show. It’s got to be a win-win proposition.

By the way, the new service we introduced at the show yesterday was bringing some very positive responses. If you haven’t taken a look, check out WriteBytes4You — when you need “just a little help” because you’re stuck on one of those small but tough writing challenges.

RANKING 97 – If you’re a small to midsize business owner, you may think trade shows are just for the big guys. But you’d be surprised at what you can accomplish if you handle it properly. Really taking your time with each visitor can sometimes be more effective than simply collecting a bunch of business cards. If you can get the show promoters to include a seminar spot, so much the better. By the way, good handling might include blogging about the show way ahead of time. Try to build some time into your schedule to promote the show to your own private list–and if possible introduce a new product or service in conjunction with the show.

For many kinds of products and services, by the way, vendors frequently can do business with each other. And of course they can also give each other referrals–the best way to get new customers.

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