Preplanning: The Key To Profiting From Trade Shows

It’s never too early to plan for a visit to a jewelry show. Indeed, any show can be a disaster if you postpone the planning too long. Always start with three critical W’s: Why? What? When?

Planning to attend a jewelry trade show?

Then ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Why attend at all?

  2. What do you want to achieve when you do attend?

  3. When should you go?

WHY?

Ask a score of jewelers why they plan to attend a particular show and you’ll probably get at least a score of varying reasons. You’ll also get some core answers.

  • To discover and view new merchandise.

  • To find new suppliers and meet face-to-face with existing ones to discuss marketing strategies and product trends and deal with any communication or other problems.

  • To get new knowledge and business insights by attending seminars.

  • To build staff skills and morale by having key employees shop the show with you.

  • To network with colleagues, enjoy the away-from-the-store freedom and attend receptions and parties.

But none of these goals will be properly realized if you don’t think out well in advance your specific plans for each one. Going to a show is a major investment of cash and time; no business can afford the luxury of attending just because it seems the right thing to do.

Consider the cash. Let’s say three people will travel to Las Vegas – where else to go for critical late spring buying!? – from Cleveland, Ohio; Pocatello, Idaho; or Jacksonville, Fla. Because they want to attend the pre-show seminars as well as the show itself, they decide to stay five nights. Their expenses will look somewhat like this:

Three air fares $1,500
Jeweler & spouse, 5 nights $475
One staff member, 5 nights $425
Daily meals for three $570
Tips, cabs, miscellaneous $250
Entertainment etc $180
Total $3,400

Now let’s suppose this trio attends seven one-hour seminars and spends six hours a day for three days at the show. That adds up to a total of 25 hours. Simple arithmetic demonstrates that those 25 hours cost an average of $136 an hour. That’s a lot, without even factoring in the cost of time spent away from the store.

Even if this trio really works hard, doubling seminar time to 14 hours and covering the show separately rather than as a group, the cost remains high. They’re now up to a total of 68 hours, giving them an average cost per hour of $50.

These calculations aren’t designed to keep you away from a show. Far from it! They’re meant to show you that to get maximum value from attending a show, you must plan carefully how to use your time productively.

BEFORE THE SHOW

Preregister to avoid any people-crush when you get to the show.

Decide what you want to accomplish. Are you looking for ideas? Inventory fillers? Fresh new looks? Basic merchandise building? Write down your goals.

Check inventory. What’s selling? What’s not? What do you really need? What have your customers been asking for? Are there any customer wish-list items you need to buy?

Make a specific shopping list. If you want to stay within certain price points, don’t waste time considering merchandise outside them. What are your needs for quality? For exclusivity? How much money do you want to allocate for new merchandise that you have a hunch will sell well?

Send enough people. One or two people cannot cover a large show effectively. The more qualified people you can afford to send, the more you’ll get out of the show. This goes for seminars as well as buying.

Check for specials. Travel organizations associated with shows often offer bargains in air fares and hotel rates, especially for those who commit early. Also be alert for show specials. Many exhibitors offer special deals just for the show.

Call the Chamber of Commerce at the host city. Ask for maps and brochures about the city so you can plan your visit and your leisure time. Some shows provide details on places to visit and family-fun recreation. Get as much information as you can in advance; it makes the visit much more pleasant and productive once you arrive.

Take appropriate clothes. The Chamber of Commerce can be a good guide on the type of weather to expect. In addition, many hotels have fitness centers these days, so it’s a good idea to take your workout gear along.

Be sure to carry good identification. Because security has to be so tight, show management usually requires good identification. A driver’s license with picture is almost a must. At The JCK Show, buyers receive an ID card that can be used with exhibitors’ imprinting machines – a service that cuts way back on the need for business cards. But carry a good supply of cards anyway. They’re always useful.

Plan your strategy. Read the show guide, familiarize yourself with the floor plan and decide how you will cover the show. Have a plan and stay with it unless you have some very good reason not to.

Compare. This is an ideal time to shop the competition – exhibitor competition, that is. Check similar merchandise at different booths. Price isn’t everything, of course. Also think quality, supplier reputation and support, delivery times, return privileges, etc.

Don’t rush. Don’t let yourself be pressured to decide too quickly. Be sure you’re making a commitment for merchandise or services you really want from a supplier with whom you’re comfortable.

Don’t fall victim to shopper’s fatigue. Don’t feel you must make a purchase merely to justify your attendance. Remember to check your true inventory needs and to check your customers’ wish lists.

Pace yourself. It’s easy to become overtired in a big show. Take time to sit down for a beverage. Review your notes. Review experience to date at the show with others from your business.

Eat sensibly. Maintain a well-balanced diet, at least as much as you can. Don’t overeat, tempting though it may be. And don’t skip meals because you’re too busy. You’ll live to regret it.

AFTER THE SHOW

Hit the press. Some shows offer hometown publicity service; check your show guide for details. Usually, the show will arrange to send pictures of you and details of your attendance to a local newspaper. Make full use of such publicity. If a show doesn’t offer this service, call your paper’s fashion editor when you get home. Give details of the show and what you bought.

Stage an in-store promotion. Prepare a special display of the merchandise you bought. Add pictures of the host city and some of you at the show. Invite your better customers to come by for this special viewing. Serve light refreshments.

Offer your services as a public speaker. Inform local groups you’d like to reach that you’ve just been to a major jewelry show. Give a short talk on merchandise trends, fashion tips and gift ideas. Add some atmosphere about the show and the host city.

Take advantage of supplier offers. Follow up any supplier offers of help, whether they involve a personal appearance in your store, help from a traveling salesperson in training your staff or the availability of co-op ads.

SECURITY: A SPECIAL CONCERN

Caution. Caution. Caution.

It’s impossible to be too careful. It’s a sad fact of life that many crooks regard jewelers as special targets, so you need to maintain the sort of security you have in your store when you travel to a show.

Never wear a show badge outside the exhibit hall. It will attract crooks as surely as candy collects kids.

Never flaunt your jewelry. Who hasn’t seen a jeweler at some event illuminated with what seems like a case-full of jewelry? This goes for men as well as women. Wearing some jewelry is appropriate, but be discreet. And always use the hotel safety deposit box for valuables of any kind.

Never carry valuable jewelry with you. Few jewelers can resist the temptation to show off a special piece or special stone to other jewelers. Don’t do it. If you’re not planning to wear the piece, leave it at home in the safe. The prime reason that most shows ban over-the-counter transactions during show hours is to minimize security risks. Buying a piece of jewelry at a show and then taking it to your hotel is an open invitation to trouble.

Never let go of a personal briefcase or handbag. Neither may contain more than your personal papers, but crooks don’t know that.

Never take more cash than necessary; travelers checks are just as convenient and much safer. Neither should you take credit cards you don’t need. And at any show in a warm climate, jewelers are likely to dress quite casually. If you do, don’t stick a billfold in the back pocket of your pants. A smart crook will remove it in seconds.

Be suspicious. If you want a cab or want to check luggage, do so only with people who wear an official uniform or have some recognizable form of identification. Beware of strangers who offer to help you find a cab or carry your luggage.

Never discuss your business with strangers, friendly though they may be. One good opening gambit: “I work for the IRS. What do you do?”

WHAT?

Your personal show plan (and it is vital to tailor your plan to meet the precise needs of your own business) has to cover each “Why?” with a “What.” You must decide just what you want to achieve in each of the “Why” areas.

Merchandise: The first step is to examine your inventory records. Which are the past year’s best-sellers? Merchandise that’s selling well should be replaced. Which are the slow-sellers, the dogs? No matter how enticing a sales pitch you get to buy similar items, don’t do it. If something didn’t move last year, chances are very good it won’t move next year.

What’s missing? You’ve heard from jeweler friends that such-and-such an item, which you don’t stock, is selling well. At least check out suppliers who offer it.

What new merchandise areas do you want to enter, if any? Your 1996 business plan should give you information about your customers’ demographics, your competitive strengths and weaknesses and the state of your market. This information has to shape your merchandising strategies for the year, helping you to decide, for example, whether it’s time to add a new high-end designer line, find a line of loss leaders, expand your watch business or whatever. These strategies will help to determine your buying patterns for the year.

Before you draw up a merchandise want list, look carefully at your budget and your projected open to buy. Any open-to-buy plan ought to include the flexibility of some mad money, cash you can commit to try new products or to buy items purely on a hunch that they will appeal to certain of your customers. But your basic open-to-buy plan must reflect a realistic assessment of projected sales, by department and by product line. This plan provides the discipline that governs all major purchasing decisions.

With the open to buy set, it’s time to decide how to spend the money. As the year starts, sit down with key staff to discuss any changes in merchandise mix that you want to introduce. Planning early makes it a lot easier to shop the spring and summer shows more efficiently and more productively.

Suppliers: Next, decide which suppliers are on the “must see” show list. What issues and topics do you want to discuss with them? What steps will you take to seek new suppliers? (A JCK study several years ago revealed that while many jewelers have a high supplier turnover; in a countertrend other jewelers stress “partnerships” in which retailers limit themselves largely to a few loyal suppliers.)

Your “must see” list of exhibitors will determine how you allocate time during a show. Some jewelers like to browse first, quickly touring show floors in search of new and interesting products and trends. Others prefer to visit key exhibitor-suppliers as a first order of business. If the relationship is important to the supplier, it probably will be possible and desirable to make appointments. (At The JCK Show in Las Vegas, you can arrange to meet with exhibitors in their booths before show hours each morning. But show management must approve such visits in advance.)

More and more often, suppliers like to work with their better retail customers on a total program rather than focus on individual product sales. The program may include advertising and marketing support, stock balancing, payment terms, special discounts and in-store staff training.

A typical agenda for a supplier meeting might include:

  • An evaluation of the supplier’s marketing plans, including trade and consumer advertising, co-op ad allowances, promotions, etc.

  • Discussion of new products and product trends.

  • Terms, memo use, etc.

  • Stock balancing, return and/or exchange privileges.

  • Credit and delivery issues.

  • Communication.

The seminar track: Most shows offer some form of education program. Some have one or two sessions each day before the show opens; others include a full-fledged program of one or more days.

Whatever the offering, those who plan to attend a particular show should make a special effort to take advantage of what usually is an opportunity to learn a great deal without paying a cent. The JCK Show, for example, each year has a mix of sessions on business themes, various aspects of gemology and product trends. Because space is limited, it’s a good idea to check any show’s education program as soon as it’s available, study which sessions you want to attend and sign up early.

To get maximum coverage, it’s also a good idea to have different staff members attend different sessions, and then compare notes afterward.

Get the staff involved: Shows offer a wonderful opportunity to develop and/or reward your staff. Chances are the bulk of your product prospecting and ordering will take place at one show, even though you do off-season and fill-in business at other events. This makes it very important that you get maximum exposure to what’s available at your #1 show.

Large jewelry organizations draw up elaborate plans for show coverage, often assigning as many as 20 buyers to guarantee the best possible coverage. Specialists in each product area visit with key suppliers and also scout out new sources and new products. Life is more difficult for smaller, independent operations.

But as always, advance planning pays off. It’s clearly impossible, for example, for a single person or even a husband-and-wife team to thoroughly examine all the merchandise and services offered at big shows. Such buyers must decide in advance how best to spend their time, mixing visits with important suppliers with some random floorwide searches for new and interesting product. However, opportunities to see and commit to new merchandise expand rapidly for the store that can bring at least a small team to the show.

Teamwork is the key. Assign each member a section of the show or a type of merchandise. Then arrange for team members to assemble once or twice a day to compare notes – notetaking is vital. The ideal is to start the day with written assignments and then have each team member write down facts, thoughts and impressions about the products he or she sees. It’s also important to record the core of any conversations with suppliers. In a long and busy day, it’s very, very easy to forget the details of some conversations.

Many jewelers use this team approach to build the expertise and confidence of staff members. If your market offers little chance to see a wide selection of merchandise in other stores, a major show is an ideal place to get a competitive focus on a huge range of product. To view such a show and spend a few days there is a learning experience for any staff member.

Show attendance also can be given as a reward for exceptional work. A couple of years ago, a Midwestern jeweler ran a sales contest in a number of his stores with a trip to the JCK Las Vegas Show the reward for any manager who exceeded sales goals by a significant amount. Every single manager qualified for the trip!

Social events, networking: It’s just about impossible to measure how much good can come from networking with other jewelers. But it has to be huge. One of the distinguishing hallmarks of jewelry retailing is the willingness of people to share information – something that’s abundantly clear in seminar programs where jewelers willingly reveal their secrets for success.

What’s true of seminars is equally true of one-on-one encounters. The opportunities for such meetings are almost endless, as are the potential rewards in terms of new or renewed friendships and new, profitable ideas.

One note of caution, however. While party-time is fun, the main reason for attending a show is to work. Too much partying can wreak havoc with a full work schedule. The best course? Moderation.

WHEN?

When should you plan to attend a show? Attendance obviously depends on the needs of a particular jewelry business. But some points are fairly clear.

Depending on year-end activity, you will want to replenish stock either sparingly or fully early in the new year. Larger operations also generally want to check out merchandise to include in special catalogs and programs. So there’s a clear need for at least one early-year general merchandise show. Also needed are certain specialist shows, such as the February colored stone events in Tucson.

But traditionally, major buying and order-placing are done at midyear in anticipation of the fall and Christmas selling season. After all, the final three months of the year account for about 40% of the typical store’s annual sales. For many years, the Jewelers of America show in New York City in July was the industry’s focal buying event. But many larger stores argued that’s too late to allow adequate planning and production time. To meet the need for an earlier event, JCK launched its Las Vegas show in late spring. Major buyers say that date suits them well and, increasingly, traditional jewelry stores are moving their buying to earlier in the season, too. Of course, when to attend a show continues to be a decision for the individual business.

FIVE TOP TIPS

  1. Decide why you should attend a show.

    • To find new products, services or technologies.

    • To find new suppliers.

    • To compare supplier offerings.

    • To network with suppliers and other jewelers.

    • To buy products or services.

  2. Select the right show to attend.

    • Check what industry associations have to offer.

    • Check industry publications.

    • Read and analyze promotional mailings.

    • Get advice from your suppliers and other jewelers.

  3. Set objectives before you attend the show.

    • Determine in advance what products or services interest you.

    • List the exhibitors and types of product you want to see.

    • Decide what you need to know – in terms of price, quality, delivery, etc.

    • Schedule appointments.

  4. Cover the show floor efficiently.

    • Focus on the “must see” exhibits.

    • Schedule your time realistically; industry studies show the average buyer will spend about 13 minutes at each exhibit targeted for a visit.

    • Enjoy your experience; take sensible breaks.

  5. Get the most out of each exhibit.

    • If there are product demonstrations, study them.

    • Tell the booth staffer what you want to know; don’t beat about the bush.

    • Write down the answers to your questions.

    • Use everyone’s time efficiently; ask the right questions of the right person.

    • Politely turn off someone who isn’t providing the information you want.

Source: Rayna Skolnik for The Center for Exhibition Industry Research.

OPPORTUNITIES

As a marketing communications tool, a trade show offers you opportunities unavailable elsewhere, specifically:

  • To get answers from suppliers and vendors about continuing problems (such as late shipments and sources for special items).

  • To announce future plans to vendors to get their suggestions.

  • To see products not yet appearing in catalogs and stock hot items before your competitors.

  • To evaluate merchandise – old and new.

  • To find out vendors’ plans from special announcements and formal presentations.

  • To gain knowledge about other retailers’ activities, from discussions with them and with manufacturers.

  • To upgrade employee morale by having key personnel attend the show. – Phillip M. Perry, Communication Channels Inc.

WELCOME TO JCK’S 1996 JEWELRY SHOW

A Practical Guide for a Successful Event

The 1995 JCK International Jewelry Show in Las Vegas was an almost overwhelming event for some retailers.

“It’s so big!” “It’s huge!” “I just didn’t have time to see everyone I wanted to!”

The JCK staff heard a number of comments such as these. And they were understandable. After all, the show had just about doubled in size in a single year. Buyers who over the four-year life of the show had grown used to finding certain exhibitors in certain locations suddenly found they had moved. Adding to the buyers’ confusion was the addition of many new exhibitors.

If ever a turn of events cried out for better preshow planning by buyers, this was it. There is no way to shop a show as large as JCK’s Las Vegas event without some very serious planning. So here, for all buyers, are some useful steps to help you get the most out of the show – without taking all the steam out of your stamina!

Sands Center: Let’s start with the Sands Expo & Convention Center (details about preparing a shopping list have been dealt with earlier in this report).

If you have preregistered for the show – and show managers urge you to do so for your own convenience – you will arrive at the ground-level welcoming /registration area with (or without) your admittance badge. If you have the badge, go directly to one of the badge-holder pickup stands (which are clearly marked), get the holder for your badge and you’re on your way.

If you have preregistered too late to receive an admittance badge or just forgot to bring the badge with you, then head for preregistration information at the left end of the registration desk. The people there will take care of your needs quickly.

Finally, buyers who did not preregister should go to the right end of the registration desk to the area marked “on-site registration.”

If you have any difficulty finding the spot you want, ask one of the official show greeters stationed throughout the registration lobby area. They’re there to help and to answer questions.

Getting started: How should you plan to cover both levels of The JCK Show?

The starting point is to study the list of exhibitors to identify the locations of your “must see” suppliers.

Next, check out exhibitors you’d like to see because you know they offer products that interest you or because someone told you they offer something different.

Then you should figure on wandering around a bit to browse; conversations with other jewelers during the show probably will give you some good leads. It’s also a good idea to clip items you like from jewelry magazines’ new product and fashion reports over the winter and spring months and check if the manufacturers are exhibitors.

The big problem, of course, is that it now is only February and you haven’t yet seen a list of all 1996 exhibitors. That’s not too large an obstacle. The broad shape The JCK Show took in 1995 is likely to set the pattern for some years to come. There is no more room for expansion and the number of companies that drop out and get replaced by newcomers is very small. Thus if you work with your 1995 official show guide, or the Show Atlas that was distributed at the show, you should be able to get precise locations for most of the exhibitors you want to see.

LEVEL ONE

To find your way around the show, it’s good to make use of some anchor landmarks. There are a number located on both levels of the Expo Center. Because the registration area leads directly to Level One, let’s start there. Refer to the floor plan on the opposite page for help.

As you go in through the main entrance, to your immediate right is the Level One Product Panorama, a representative cross section of exhibitor merchandise found on this level. It’s a good idea to stop here and check for new ideas that may well lead you to some new suppliers.

Directly ahead of the entrance is one of the show’s many information kiosks, staffed by people who are familiar with the show layout and who can direct you to any particular booth. They also can help you with such basic information as where to find rest rooms and restaurants.

A further step or two will take you to the Level One JCK booth where, once again, there’s a staff member ready and able to answer your question or, if the question is unusual, to guide you to where you can get the answer.

Just to get the feel of how to shop this exhibit hall, note that all aisles are identified with double letters. The sequence runs from DD on the left to VV on the right (the aisles that normally would be designated AA through CC are devoted to the special enclosed Design Center, which starts at the extreme left of Level One).

As you stand at the information kiosk at the entrance to Level One, you can look down what might be called The Boulevard, a 40-ft. wide traffic artery that leads you all the way through Level One to a major show attraction, the International Marketplace. Here, spread over literally hundreds of booths, are exhibitors from Belgium, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tahiti and Thailand. This area is not to be missed.

On the way to the International Marketplace, you see the pavilion of the Indo Argyle Diamond Council on the right.

The Design Center, a very popular destination, provides yet another display anchor. To exhibit in the center, a company goes through a rigorous peer jury system that puts a premium on creativity. The center’s goal is “to provide a group environment for a small selection of designer-owned companies with similar artistic, product and marketing missions.”

Because not all creators of designer jewelry meet the “designer-owned” qualification and because there’s a waiting list of companies that want to be considered for space in the center, show management has grouped many other exhibitors who place a special emphasis on design in the area between the center and the main boulevard.

Related to the Design Center is the Live Auction exhibit to the right of

the main entrance to Level One. This exhibit contains items donated by Design Center exhibitors that will be sold in a live auction Sunday evening – an exciting event that draws an enthusiastic crowd and can offer some real bargains. Proceeds – last year totaling more than $30,000 – go to a variety of good causes.

Restaurants, lounges and cafes are scattered throughout Level One; check your Show Atlas for the exact locations. Near the center of the show area are two staircases to Level Two. But to be consistent, let’s approach Level Two through the main entrance.

LEVEL TWO

To reach Level Two, take the escalator or staircase from the main registration area. On the upper promenade you’ll see the press room, message center/job exchange (where you can pick up messages there from colleagues at the show or from your home or office), the JCK information booth (where special guests may pick up their show credentials) and the International Hospitality Center. The promenade leads directly to the main Level Two show entrance. When you walk through the entrance, look for these immediate landmarks. Slightly to your right is a product panorama with a selection of merchandise available in this upper hall. Immediately to the right of the product panorama is the Level Two JCK booth and, nearby, the Silent Auction. All items in the Silent Auction are donated by exhibitors; check your show guide for the auction hours.

To the left of the main entrance is an information kiosk. Straight ahead, you see the full glamour of Level Two with the entrance to the Galleria Pavilion front and center, flanked to the left by the Diamond Promotion Service exhibit and to the right by the World Gold Council exhibit. The Galleria houses 18 top-of-the-line finished jewelry manufacturers.

As on Level One, there are desirable exhibits throughout the hall. Good planning allows buyers to pick the ones on their “must-see” list and on any other backup list they have. But especially for newcomers, it’s good to think of some of the big anchor exhibit areas on this level as general guideposts on what to look for and how to move about the floor.

Anchoring the right side of the hall, for those coming in the main entrance, is the elaborate Plumb Club exhibit. Leaving it, the buyer who continues a counterclockwise tour finds the next anchor area provided by Time Square, a stunning display area for the watch and clock industry with everything from the newest novelty timepieces to rare, one-of-a-kind creations.

A small but flourishing section of exhibitors offering antique and estate jewelry is the next landmark on the counterclockwise tour; it’s not far from the main Level Two restaurant and from the main 20-ft. aisle that runs the full width of the exhibit hall. The aisle offers another large grouping of top-of-the-line jewelers.

The gemstone anchor is to the left as you enter through the main entrance. Here you have Diamond Plaza and the colorful Gemstones of the World section featuring members of the American Gem Trade Association.

Near the center of the Level Two hall are twin concession stands and staircases leading to Level One.

The Conference Area: The conference desk is back and to your left as you enter the main registration area from the street (a good locator – it’s close to the base of the main staircase to Level Two).

The meeting rooms form a broad T, with access along aisles that stretch back from both ends of the bank of buyer registration terminals in the main registration lobby. As you go back, you pass the meetings rooms in the 100 and 200 series; many of the regular seminars are held in these rooms, with signs outside the doors clearly indicating the name and time of each seminar. The 300 series of rooms forms the top of the T at the end of the aisles leading to the 100 and 200 series rooms. Workshop sessions will be held in the 300 series rooms with session names and times clearly marked outside each door.

To ease access to the seminars, those holding tickets for the session gather in one line; those without tickets form a second line. These stand-by attendees are allowed to enter the seminar a few minutes before it starts, provided seats still are available.

All sessions, including Friday morning’s keynote address by Michael A. Grantham, the former De Beers executive who will speak about the world diamond market, will be held in these rooms, with one exception. The Town Meeting on Wednesday night, featuring an outspoken quintet of industry leaders and a provocative moderator, will be held in the ballroom of the Flamingo Hilton, a short walk (or bus or cab ride) from the Expo Center.

SECRETS OF THE AISLE

Dr. Allen Konopacki, president of Incomm International, urges show attendees to plan ahead. He offers eight steps a buyer should take.

  1. Start a “show productivity list” up to three months before the show. Jot down items you want to see and things you want to do as the ideas occur.

  2. Let coworkers participate. Encourage them to funnel ideas and information about trends and issues they consider to be important.

  3. At the show, plot precise strategy the night before. Spend a quiet hour or more in your hotel room to map out just what you want to achieve the following day. Keep your wish list and show guide at the ready.

  4. The three-step method for successful booth visits is:

    • Surveillance. Take a quick scan of the show to see what’s available.

    • Reflection. Take a 60-minute break to review notes and relax after this initial observation. Use the time to identify the principal questions you want answered. A well-prepared attendee stands out from the horde.

    • Validation/clarification. Check out what you hear. The show is a perfect place to get astute second opinions from various levels of experts.

  5. Sixty percent of getting what you want is knowing what to ask.

  6. Avoid a compulsion to overload with brochures. We have been conditioned by a culture of excessive consumption to take more than we need – especially when things are free and eagerly presented.

  7. Make the most of the material you select. Carry a supply of paper clips and small notepaper, such as 3M Post-It notes. Use the notepaper to write brief comments on items in a brochure and also any comments from salespeople. Clip notes to salespeople’s business cards.

  8. Fight stress. Pace yourself and set clear-cut priorities. Eat sensibly.

Source: The Center for Exhibition Industry Research

LIKES & DISLIKES

“Product accessibility” is the No. 1 “like” of buyers attending trade shows, according to a Simmons Market Research Bureau report quoted by The Center for Exhibition Industry Research. Other top “likes,” in descending order:

  • Accessibility of information.

  • Ability to make contact with sales reps, manufacturers and end users.

  • Exposure to the latest technology.

  • Social atmosphere.

The No. 1 “dislike” is lack of time to see all the products and visit all the suppliers the buyers want to. Other “dislikes”:

  • Pushy sales reps or salespeople not well enough informed or too busy to give a buyer individual attention.

  • Overcrowded shows.

  • Disorganized shows.

  • High cost of travel to the shows.

WHEN TO HOLD, WHEN TO FOLD

“I’ve never understood why people stay only two days at a three-day conference, as if arriving a day late or leaving a day early proves that they have more important things to do. Considering the time, effort and expense of attending a conference, it strikes me as a gross abuse of corporate resources [to cut a visit short]. You can’t get the most out of a conference or trade show if you don’t take all the time allowed.” – Mark McCormack, chairman and chief executive officer of the International Management Group, Cleveland, Ohio.