How Businesses Waste Money

It seems to me that many businesses attend business exhibitions with the express purpose of wasting as much time and money as possible! What other explanation can there be for them investing in exhibition space, publicity materials, attendant staff and freebie give-aways, and then not using the time at the event to their best advantage?

If you have ever walked round a business exhibition, especially if the event is spread over more than one day, you will have noticed perhaps how some exhibitors spend their time. Groups of staff standing around chatting amongst themselves and drinking coffee, others sat behind a laptop totally engrossed in the screen (probably updating their Facebook status to read ‘working at a trade show’), others absorbed by their mobile ‘phones, while some stands seem to be populated by people who are holding a pile of leaflets but who are clearly not that thrilled to be asked to stand there for hours on end. And afterwards when asked “how did the trade show go?”, these businesses will probably say, “it was rubbish, we didn’t get anything out of it.”

In my view, being at a trade exhibition is like putting on a performance. The shell scheme space or roller banner area that you purchase is your stage, and on that stage you need to present something that is worthy of the attention of those browsing the aisles. Unless a passer by is looking specifically for what you offer or has come to search out your company in particular, attracting the attention of attendees is vital. You can’t talk to, sell to, or even start any sort of business relationship with anyone if you don’t get their attention first. So your stand space needs to be noteworthy.

Obvious? Of course. Yet despite that fact many exhibitors don’t seem to have used that knowledge. A great looking display is a good start, but that’s the easy bit if you throw some sensible money at the design and graphics display. But the one thing that gets attention better than anything else, is when something unusual or of genuine interest is HAPPENING.

Catering businesses who put on cookery demonstrations (live, not just some screen showing a pre-recorded one), wine and food retailers who invite people to taste their wares, sports equipment suppliers who invite people to try out some of their equipment, hairdressers/beauty salons who provide on the spot beauty treatments, fun casinos who get people to have a quick go on the roulette wheel, these are the companies who truly engage with their potential customers and who are more likely to get good leads.

But what about solicitors, accountants, software manufacturers, financial advisors and all those other service industries who perhaps don’t have anything physical to show or to get people involved with? Well, they can do things too.

As a strolling magician I have worked for many switched on businesses at exhibitions using my magic skills to promote and raise their profiles, and also as a means of gathering leads for them in a memorable yet soft-sell way. I am able to talk to people, to show them something unusual and memorable and to create a talking point with my magic, which reflects well on the businesses who hire me. It’s a way of businesses showing that they are different, that they want to be noticed, that they have made an effort to engage with their prospects, and it gives them the best possible chance of not wasting their time and money.

These days business is very much about personal contact between the supplier and the customer. People buy from people. Having something engaging to involve the attendees lets you start the conversation, gives you the reason to speak to people in the first place (rather than just saying “would you like one of our leaflets?”), and gives you the advantage over all those who don’t see either the need or the relevance in trying to think a little outside the box. So, how will you engage more memorably with your potential clients at the next exhibition you attend?

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4 Responses to How Businesses Waste Money

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