Getting ready for the Trade Show Season, Interview with Julien Rio

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Have you ever wondered how companies succeed in the trade shows? Trade shows might seem difficult and energetic, time and money consuming but I have interviewed Julien Rio who is an expert and an author of The Trade Show Chronicles. In the interview, he will tell the best tips how to take the best advantage out of a trade show.

Trade Show Season

#1: As you have worked in multiple industries from industrial products to customer service and participated in trade shows around the world, could you share some insights of how trade shows can benefit companies from different industries?

Julien: We live in a world where digital is everywhere. People do everything online: they talk, search for information, compare products, ask for help, purchase items, share their opinion, etc.

For marketers and sales, the same phenomena can be observed: they promote their products online, build content, capture leads, do demos, sell products and provide customer care.

There is a thing digital can’t do: provide a human relation. People like to meet other people to build a relationship and evaluate one another. Trade shows are a wonderful place to meet prospects you may not have encountered otherwise.

Regardless of your industry, there are always potential clients you wouldn’t have found online, people you couldn’t have convinced if they did not get a chance to touch your product and hear you explain it. Human relation still has an important place in business.

Trade shows do not compete with digital, it completes it like marketing completes sales.

But trade shows are not just about finding new clients! Those events are also great to meet existing ones, get feedback, test new products, observe competition, analyze the market, better understand the needs, etc. No other place offers such density of information.

#2: When it comes to companies trying to get exposure in trade shows, what are the best ways to obtain visibility for a company in an extremely competitive area?

Julien: Every company is unique, and everyone wants to stand out. Have a look at most exhibitions, and you will notice multiple companies doing very little to promote themselves: no decorated booth, staff playing with their phones, no proactive behaviour to attract visitors. It wouldn’t be hard differentiating from these. What could be hard however is to leave a long-lasting impression on your visitors.

To achieve that goal, you must find what makes you unique and capitalize on it. Decorate your booth with your DNA, build it in a way that your existing clients would recognize you instantly and visitors couldn’t forget you.

You also need to properly train your team to be proactive and welcome people with open questions to start conversations. Remember: your team is your strongest weapon.

#3: What is the average ROI that company could possibly get from participating in the trade show and how to accomplish it?

Julien: We can’t talk about “average ROI” like we can’t talk about “average turnover”. So many criteria come into account, and some elements take weeks or months to be identified. The calculation I like to do is a simplified version of the ROI: all income (coming from any company met at the trade show for a period of X months) – all expenses (on all aspects of the show, before, during and after the event itself) / all expenses x 100. Regardless of the industry, a company should have a positive figure that improves year after year.

To get the ROI you need, there are two elements to consider: organize your show as early as you can (6 months isn’t too early to start planning) and control your expenses carefully.

#4: As you have also published a book, could you tell what are the best ways to make the best possible business from 1-2 day trade show?

Julien: You need your entire team to have the same objectives, the same strategy and the same vision when it comes to trade shows. As I said earlier, your team is your strongest asset and making sure you are all on the same page is the best way to achieve your goals. Never send a single person to a show without proper training, that would be a huge waste of your time and money.

#5: What could you recommend for companies which are interested in attending trade shows and looking for those valuable success tips?

Julien: Before, during and after the show. These three periods are all essential to your success.

Before the show you have a million things to organize, from selecting the carpet, the electricity and the lighting to training your team, planning for the logistics and the samples.

During the show, you must manage the timetable, advise your team, engage with visitors, capture leads and keep smiling. After the show, you still have things to do! Filtering your leads, following-up quickly, tracking results, etc.

Participating in a trade show is no easy job and recurrence is essential to improve your results and fine-tune your strategy. But as long as your team and you are on the same page, you can already be sure your ROI will be good.

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