tradeshow-go-dont-goIn difficult economic times, many corporations are faced with a classic dilemma: Do we cut, or do we invest (spend)? Depending upon how dire the immediate corporate status is, a lot of companies employ the philosophy of cutbacks, as opposed to investing. And therefore when it comes to trade shows exhibits (in tough times), the tendency is to forego the expense. Yes, trade shows are in the marketing column, and marketing is typically viewed as an expense, and therefore cut first (along with training). But is that the wiser choice? No. Balance is everything.

I often think about the analogy of the bicycle. The bicyclist is riding along and suddenly the front tire is caught in a shallow groove in the pavement. The bike becomes unbalanced and begins to waver. The rider will do one of two things: she will either look in the direction of the fall and probably crash, or look the other way and have a better chance at correcting the balance, keeping from an accident. In a similar light, cutting back spending on marketing is perhaps looking in the direction of the fall, whereas wise spending in areas that will generate income could correct the corporate balance sheet. And balanced marketing is one key to success, when done with talent and experience.

Here now are five items to consider regarding trade shows and how they can help add balance for a solid marketing and long-term revenue strategy:

  1. Choose shows carefully. If you analyze the shows you ve exhibited in over time, how many of these shows were entered because you ve always done so, or because your competitors were there? How many of those shows used unnecessary time and money, instead of showing a direct return on the investment? Eliminate the shows that are nice to be at, and instead focus on larger shows that promise more of your target market.
  2. Be a contender. Once you have carefully selected the shows that match your target audience (and trade show objectives or goals), you must be consistent. To be a contender means that you are out there come rain or shine . If you are out of the public eye, you are definitely out of the public mind. Exhibiting consistently demonstrates financial strength and that you are a serious player.
  3. Think in the long term. Look at trade show events as a long term strategy to obtain projected financial goals. Make your trade show display exhibit indelible in the memory of your booth visitors with proper planning and execution, and then do long-term follow up on everything generated by the shows. View all leads and sales as lifetime customers and value them accordingly.
  4. Invest in training. Your employees and therefore your trade show staff are a direct reflection of your corporate culture and company values. What better time to demonstrate this than at trade show events. When you invest time and training in your trade show employees, not only are you maximizing results, but you have also reinforced your marketing message in a tangible way.
  5. Inspire. Your trade show staff is in a direct position to make or break future associations with prospects, attendees and clients. You must inspire their performance by projecting an attitude a mentality of involvement, excitement, and inclusion in the success of the show. This is done by direct one-to-one training, listening, encouragement, recognition, and positive reinforcement, in addition to rewards. Investing in improved performance always translates to the bottom line.

So reconsider chopping marketing projects especially trade show events in challenging times. Lean away from the possible fall (of cutting back), and instead look towards an investment in balance, for huge, long-term financial gains. It is wise to use trade shows as one central piece of your company marketing strategy, regardless of the economy.

By Timothy Carter