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Ask Bob About Trade Shows

?Do I have to go to trade shows to succeed in my industry?
No. There are plenty of businesses in all industries and sizes that donít participate in trade shows. Many are, nonetheless, very successful. Donít choose trade shows as a vehicle for promoting your company, products, and services simply because other firms you know are planning to exhibit.

Decide for yourself whether or not the exposure is worth the expense. If it is, set a budget and stick to it. Remember, awards from attending a trade show are generally intangible. Donít expect a big pile of orders from new customers.

?Should I advertise in trade show publications?
Be prepared. You will get calls from media representatives offering ad space in their show publications. They might play on your fear that no one will visit your booth because they wonít know you are there unless you advertise. This is nonsense! You will be much better off spending money on upgrading your booth presentation than you would be by advertising in a trade show publication.

?What if I do decide to advertise in a trade show publication?
If you do decide to place trade show advertisements, advertise in a regular trade publication, in the preshow issue that features trade show news. Many of these trade publications also issue a special show guide that buyers often use in planning booth visits. Typically, advertisers are listed in these guides. Sometimes these publications also offer additional circulation of their trade show issue to trade show attendees, often at no additional cost, in addition to their usual circulation. Ultimately you will be much better off advertising in a regular trade publication that has a preshow issue than in any publication that is distributed solely at the show. You will reach show attendees as well as those buyers who donít attend the show.

?Should I have giveaways?
In some industries everyone has some giveaways at a trade show. In other industries only the larger firms do. Play it by ear. And, unless you are restrictive about who gets your giveaways, you may very well give more of your products or gifts to the competition than you do to buyers!

?How much work can I do without hiring union labor?
Each exposition hall (not each trade show) has its own rules. If your industryís trade show is held in a different city each year, then the rules will vary each year. Rules at major convention centers tend to be very restrictive because they are usually built with public money and politicians are sensitive to the needs of labor unions.

At most larger convention centers you canít carry anything into the hall yourself that you canít carry in your hands. That means no two-wheelers or dollies. You canít hire labor that isnít union, and you canít use your own tools to set up your own booth. You canít even use your own ladder. So, if you can hand-carry your booth into the convention center and set it up without the benefit of tools, you are all set. Otherwise you will have to contract labor to do the delivery of your exhibit to the booth space and, at the very least, assist in booth assembly.

In setting up a multi-booth exhibit in Las Vegas the union steward complained to me about my lack of union help in setting up part of my display. I persuaded him not to push the issue because I had had a vertical sign set up earlier in the day which had required a lift truck and a three-man union crew.

To avoid any unpleasant ramifications that may result from the use of unauthorized or unacceptable labor, use the showís recommended labor vendors, decorators, electrical contractors, and other services.

* Source Streetwise Small Business Start-Up

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