The True Significance of Trade Shows: Collaboration, Partnership and Strategy

The True Significance of Trade Shows: Collaboration, Partnership and Strategy

In the pre-pandemic era, many of us likely wondered about the true value and return on investment of attending live, in-person trade shows. We may have found ourselves in a sea of expenditures – flights, hotels, meals, taxis, and quite a substantial amount for securing that booth. It seemed like a lot to pour into one event, and it begged the question – were these costs truly justified as investments? And how did we go about measuring the ROI?

Today, we realize that these events are a critical platform for connection and a crucial opportunity to develop and foster relationships. This is the driving force behind long-term business growth.

Trade shows, by their very nature, are teeming with opportunities. However, they can only be as beneficial as we allow them to be.

As I prepare to attend the Jewellery Industry Summit in Sydney, and as many of us travel once again to the upcoming calendar of invaluable events, it is the perfect time to stop and take stock.

To ensure that we derive maximum value from attending these events, it’s critical that we approach them with well-defined objectives and a meticulously crafted strategy.

First, introspection

The first step involves introspection and goal setting. Ask yourselves and your teams – why are we attending this particular trade show? Is it to show off your product and to write orders to new, potential, and existing customers? Is it to increase brand visibility, to network with industry peers, to understand current market trends, or perhaps, a combination of these? Our motives for attending the trade show must be explicitly clear, for they set the direction for our subsequent actions.

Next, dive deeper into your goals for the event. These goals should be subdivided into immediate and long-term. Immediate goals may include metrics such as the number of meaningful connections to be made, potential leads to be generated, or specific additions to your professional knowledge base and technical skills to be gained from the talks. Long-term aspirations, on the other hand, might encompass establishing strong relationships that could lead to future collaborations, staying abreast of industry advancements to guide our business strategies, or identifying new markets or customer needs that could influence our product development plans.

With such goals in place, think about if your participation aligns with your broader business strategy. For instance, if your business strategy involves expanding into a new geographical area, you might target trade shows that attract attendees from that region. If your focus is on innovation, then shows that highlight technological advancements in your industry would be of interest.

This alignment ensures that your time and resources invested in the event are directed toward your overall strategic objectives.

Identify, target, and engage

Once you’ve arrived at the trade show, one of your most crucial actions is active engagement. The bustling trade show floor is a microcosm of your industry, brimming with a wide array of existing as well as potential partners, prospective customers, and thought leaders. Your task is to navigate this labyrinth of opportunities with a strategic yet open mindset.

To start, have a discussion of goals to set before the show. For buyers, it could be about items identified as needed, and budget allocated for buying, etc. For sellers, it might be about sales to existing customers or increasing the number of potential and new customers on the roster. KPIs are valuable but need to be set ahead, regardless of who you are and your place in the industry. These are part of the goals you establish, based on intelligence about your business – where you’ve gotten to, where you want to go, and how this trade show will move the needle.

These could be entities that complement your business offerings, prospective clients, or even potential mentors. You can identify these stakeholders through pre-event research, examining the list of attendees, and recognizing those whose objectives align with yours.

However, your networking efforts shouldn’t be restricted to this list alone. The beauty of trade shows lies in the unpredictability and diversity of the attendees. Keep an eye out for impromptu encounters and serendipitous meetings; these can often lead to some of the most fruitful partnerships.

Once you’ve identified potential connections, it’s time to initiate conversations. It’s important to approach these interactions with a genuine intent to understand the other party’s needs and objectives rather than just pushing an agenda. Striking up a conversation about their latest product launch or discussing a recent industry trend can set the stage for a more meaningful dialogue. After all, trade shows offer an opportunity for face-to-face conversations, making them inherently more personal than most other forms of business communication.

It’s also important to follow up post-event. Send a personalized note or email referencing a key point from your conversation and expressing interest in continuing the dialogue. These follow-ups can help convert a casual trade show interaction into a meaningful business relationship.

Another valuable trick of the trade: meet with your team every evening. Share the contacts and conversations you’ve had from that day, then send thank you or follow-up emails that evening if appropriate and show that you’re paying attention. Such notes remind the other party about you.

An evolution

In the evolving landscape of business, trade shows have transformed from simple gatherings into strategic tools for growth. While they do require significant resources, the dividends they yield in terms of connections, knowledge, and industry insight are immeasurable.

From introspection and goal setting to active engagement and diligent follow-ups, every step has the potential to unlock opportunities. It’s not just about walking away with a handful of business cards or brochures but creating meaningful relationships that can fuel business growth.

Ultimately, the worth of trade shows is not determined merely by quantifiable outcomes, but by the lasting bonds and invaluable insights, they facilitate.

Trade shows are an investment, not just of money, but also of time and effort. When approached with clarity, strategy, and an open mindset, they become a catalyst, accelerating us toward our business aspirations.

The question of trade show participation shifts from an assessment of expenditure to a recognition of potential – a testament to the enduring power of human connection to drive business growth.

All the best,

Andrea Lucille Pooler

Business Management Lead

P.S. This August, I will be taking my first trip to Australia to attend and speak at the Jewellery Industry Fair and Summit in Sydney.

During the event, I will host a live talk and two interactive workshops covering a range of topics, from visual merchandising and leadership to the secrets of success for women bench jewelers.

I will also be seizing the opportunity to meet new faces and reconnect with familiar ones while I explore the wonders of Australia.

If you’re attending the Jewellery Industry Summit or happen to find yourself in Sydney this August, I’d love to connect.

Reach out at inquiry@hillandco.co, and we’ll make it happen.

And if you want to stay updated on my journey, insights, and adventures while down under, please connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

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