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Down Your Trade Show Budget
Susan Friedmann, CSP
a recession threatens the economy, companies immediately look at where they
can cut budgets. Without much
forethought, the first to hit the block is inevitably training, followed
closely behind by marketing. Why?
Both are viewed on the balance sheet as expenditures rather than
income generators, so obviously they're hot contenders for elimination.
is a very myopic way of thinking, especially for companies who want to
remain globally competitive. Instead,
at times like these when resources are under severe scrutiny, look at this
as a golden opportunity to analyze your strategies.
Put your activities under a microscope and closely examine what
you're doing and why you're doing it. Often
during times of plenty, the finance reins loosen up and some highly creative
juggling takes place when budgets exceed their estimations.
Obviously, we enjoy the abundant mentality and wish that it could
last forever. But just as with
all things in the universe there has to be a balance, and shortages add
stability to plenty. Whenever
highs exist, lows are inevitable.
instead of reacting to the highs and lows of the marketplace, what can you
do to maintain a steady balance? Marketing
and training are definitely keys to your success, so let's examine five
benefits and how they relate to your tradeshow participation.
Analyze your weakest links
you take time to look examine your operation in more detail, you often
discover that many of your actions are done out of habit rather than being
productive and profitable. Think
about some of the shows that you attend.
How do they really fit into your marketing strategy?
Are you attending them just because you've always done so, or because
your competition is there? These
are often your weak links, the shows that utilize unnecessary time and
energy. Think about doing away
with the "nice to be at shows" and rather opt at putting all your
energy into the more profitable events that attract larger quantities of
your target market.
weak budgetary link is associated with excessive employee spending at shows,
such as dining at the finest restaurants and ordering the highest priced
items just because the boss is paying.
Consider setting up a per diem allowance and make employees
accountable for expenses. You
might even reward them with the difference if they under spend their
Exhibit a global competitiveness mindset
be a contender in the global marketplace and establish a vanguard
positioning, you have to be out there come rain or shine. And, tradeshows
signify an essential marketing strategy when it comes to visibility. Exhibiting demonstrates that you're a serious player in the
industry. However tough, it's
important to keep tradeshows as one of your major promotional strategies.
Rather consider reducing space than totally pulling out a show,
provided of course, that it's the right show for you.
Unfortunately, if you stop exhibiting completely, the
"buzz" on the show floor says publicly that you must be in
financial trouble. This may be
completely false, but it's people's perceptions that count.
They're the reality they believe.
As the old adage states, "out of sight, out of mind."
And, since memorability is a key factor associated with exhibiting,
if you're not seen, how can you possibly be remembered!
Focus on long-term results
in both marketing and training means that you're interested and willing to
focus on long-term results. Neither
is designed to give a "quick fix," rather using them continuously
in an organized and planned manner, will produce results. They're like a dripping faucet, so long as the drops
constantly fall into the tub, it will fill up.
However, if you maintain a "turn on, turn off" approach,
that is train and market in times of plenty and discontinue when there's a
shortage, then your results are likely to mirror your actions. Look at how you can keep an operational equilibrium to avoid
the highs and the lows. Develop
a consistent marketing and training strategy.
Inspire loyal workers
companies are reluctant to invest too much in training staff for fear that
once trained, they'll leave for "greener pastures." Since there
are no guarantees in life, that's always going to be a risk, but does that
mean you shouldn't develop your people to be the best they can be?
Absolutely not! The reasons employees leave may be many. Employees may leave
because of frustration or stress. They might feel unappreciated or
undervalued. It could be that they believe your company is heading for an
iceberg and want to "jump ship" before it sinks. Maybe they feel
that their salaries are not in line with the jobs they are performing. Or
they could feel that they don't have enough authority, growth opportunities,
or direction in their careers. Training
is often the key to help inspire loyalty.
are the backbone of your company. Without them, your company cannot stay
afloat. The relationship between employees and employers has to be a
partnership; if they feel their needs are being ignored, they will leave
you. But when both sides work on the same wavelength, share the same goals
and ideas, the company will be on the right track for success.
What better place than the tradeshow floor to exhibit this mentality.
Your exhibit staff represents your internal customer-service team and
your company ambassadors. They
stand for your entire organization. These
people have the awesome responsibility of making or breaking future
relationships with attendees, prospects and customers.
Their attitude, body language, appearance, and knowledge help to
create positive or negative perceptions in the minds of visitors.
Make sure that they're well trained and can do what you expect of
them. Training shows that you
recognize your team's importance in the company.
is a powerful extension of your company's marketing strategy and your people
are the backbone of your company. Eliminating
your marketing and training budgets during times of recession is tantamount
to profitability suicide. So consider looking at other places to make those cuts!
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