Plan for profit at Graph Expo 2007

ImageImagine you are looking for a new product or service that will make your business more productive and profitable. Where do you start? You could check the Internet, let your fingers do the walking through the yellow pages or attend Graph Expo 2007. If you are like 18 – 20 thousand other Graphic Arts professionals Graph Expo will be high on the top of your list.

In just four days you can cover nearly a half a million square feet exhibits from 600 Industry suppliers, see countless numbers of new products and learn about everything from what’s new in digital printing to workflow software.

Attending Graph Expo can be fun, educational and profitable but these benefits can slip through your fingers with poor time management, which can lead to wasted opportunities.

The trick is to make sure that your time walking Graph Expo is well spent. To accomplish this goal you would be wise to follow these guidelines;

  1. Set quantified objectives. Your investment of time and resources needs to be justified. There is no point making the investment if there is no return. Stating that you will walk the show to find the latest trends and leaving it at that is doing yourself a disfavor. Your objective could be to visit certain vendors, to find solutions, attend seminars, see what’s happening in your industry, look for potential business opportunities, assess the show or schmooze with industry colleagues. The trick is to quantify this objective so that you can allocate the correct time to accomplish it. Quantifying also gives you concrete methods of measuring your actual results after the show.
  2. Put your objectives in order of priority. Having too many objectives can be hazardous to your successful outcome. Narrow your list to three objectives that can be accomplished within your time frame at the show. Once you have done this place them in order of priority with number one being that objective that you absolutely need to accomplish while walking the show and number three being the one you could live without if you run out of time.
  3. Research. The more you learn in advance the more efficient your visit becomes. Most shows have a web-site with links to individual exhibitors. Visit and hone in on those products and vendors you need to learn more about.
  4. Check out the show activities. Part of attending the show is also an opportunity to participate in one or more of the 60 seminars and workshops. Pick out those that are most meaningful for you.
  5. Develop a walking plan. The floor plan is included on the web-site as well as in the show guide which you pick-up on-site. On the floor plan plot the exhibitors you want to see indicating which objective priority (1-2- or 3) they meet. Also indicate the locations of other activities you would like to attend. Next look for trends. Often opportunities appear in clusters. You will have certain areas of the show which are more productive for you than others. Plan to walk the show so that you go to these clusters first rather than starting at one end of the show and walking to the other. Now you can take care of your number one priorities when you are fresh and relaxed and if for some reason your visit is cut short you will still have benefited from the experience.
  6. Be prepared to ask questions. Savvy show visitors develop a list of questions they want to ask each exhibitor on their list. Put these questions on a pre-printed form and include them in your show notebook. Now you are ensured of collecting the information you need from the people you need it from and you have an easy way to record the answers.
  7. Plan some R & R. Walking a show can be tiring. Plan your visit so that every two hours you can do something different such as attending one of the educational sessions to get off your feet or plan to meet a colleague for coffee.
  8. Get inspired. Make sure you save time for the unexpected. Don’t plan every moment. Leave a little time to be surprised and take in the excitement and hidden opportunities of the show.
  9. Have fun. Walking a trade show can be profitable but it is also challenging. When you put some fun into your visit everything seems to work a lot smoother.

When Graph Expo is over and you are back at the shop reflect on what you learned. See if you were able to meet your objectives and then sit back and pat yourself on the back. You have done a good job in a difficult situation and all it took was a bit of common sense and some planning.

    Barry Siskind is North America’s foremost trade and consumer show expert. He is author of Powerful Exhibit Marketing. Visit WWW.SISKINDTRAINING.COM and learn how you can dramatically improve the bottom line at your next show