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How to Make a Trade Show Work for You

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RISMEDIA, Feb. 7, 2008-(MCT)-Don’t expect to find Mike Mayhew sitting down and waving to passers-by at a trade show.

Those events are his chance to show them what he’s got — or at least, what Toshiba printer and copier dealer Automated Business Machines has got.

“You have to be proactive,” said the vice president of sales at the company. “If you just sit there, people aren’t going to come to your booth.”

Working a trade show properly requires preparation and strategy. And if done right, a trade show could open doors to new prospects.

A team working the Automated Business Machines booth, for example, will usually score about 20 to 30 sales appointments at the end of the day, “which is good,” said Mayhew, who typically brings two sales representatives with him to a show.


Automated Business Machines, which has two locations in Columbus and Albany, attends four trade shows a year in Columbus, Albany, LaGrange and Auburn.

To prepare for a trade show, the company will send out flyers and e-mails to prospects and customers to inform them of the event. This gives those who may not be able to visit the office a chance for a face-to-face meeting.

Choosing a good spot at the trade show is important, Mayhew said.

“The key is to get in early with the organizer so you get the best location,” he said.

A high traffic area — such as near an entrance or exit — would be ideal.

And remember to prepare all necessities you’ll be bringing to the trade show.

An Automated Business Machines booth will have company and product brochures, as well as some of its printers and copiers on site. If you’re bringing electronics, make sure you have power, Mayhew said.

It’s always good to bring extras as well. Employees heading out to the show will usually tote along small promotional gifts and door prizes — from DVDs to televisions. Those prize winners could become future customers, Mayhew said.

At the show

For the printer and copier dealer, it’s rare to sell a machine on the spot at a trade show, Mayhew said. What they hope to obtain, however, is sales appointments.

On a typical day at the business, Automated Business Machines’ six sales representatives must conduct 25 cold calls, 15 telemarketing calls and five customer care calls. At a trade show, the salesperson is in front of many more people throughout the day.

Plus, Mayhew said, it may take a little pressure off the team.

“It’s more relaxed at a trade show,” he said.

Being present at a trade show helps the business gain name recognition, Mayhew said. Once at the show, it is also the team’s job to attract people to their booth.

Mayhew will typically introduce himself to passers-by and find out more about them.

He also makes rounds to booths belonging to other businesses and organizations that make up a part of Automated Business Machines’ customer base.

“The main thing at a trade show is information,” he said.

With prospect information, the business can match them up with a machine that can serve their specific needs.

So are trade shows worth it?

Mayhew said they are.
“It pays for itself,” he said.

Copyright © 2008, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Ga.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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