Editor’s note: This is the final part of a three-part series detailing how New Hampshire businesses can make the most of expositions and trade shows in the lead-up to the Tri-City Business to Business Exposition, to be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Center of New Hampshire-Radisson Hotel expo center in Manchester.
Every week an invitation to a trade show or business exposition piles up in your inbox. The possibilities are endless — business-to-business, consumer, trade, craft and industry shows run year-round. You can’t possibly run your business effectively and attend all of the expositions.
Deciding where to spend your time and then spending that time efficiently is the key to maximizing the return on your investment at the next exposition or trade show. For the savvy businessperson, a business-to-business exposition similar to the Tri-City Business to Business Exposition offers the visitor opportunities to make new business deals and build their business.
Expositions like Tri-City excel because they offer such a great variety of business opportunities — opportunities that can be daunting to the exposition visitor. The key is not to be overwhelmed and to follow your plan.
By their nature, these shows bombard the visitor with hundreds of different companies trying to draw you into their booth to begin a business relationship. Food, prizes, discounts and games are all offered in an attempt to break the ice and facilitate the beginning of a dialogue. Rarely are these incentives more than a marketing tool to get the conversation rolling. Bouncing from one well-conceived promotion to another, while enjoyable, probably won’t give you the tools to grow your business, meet new business partners and build lasting relationships.
As an exposition visitor you need to know what you want out of your show experience and have a plan to achieve that goal.
The two most common goals of visitors to expositions is relationship-building and education. Expositions offer an excellent opportunity to educate yourself about a new company that you may want to do business with or discover a new business service that will help you to grow your business. What makes expositions such a great venue for this is the ability to comparison-shop and talk directly to the business owner or marketing manager. Their sole focus at the show is to sell their products or services and they will be keyed to your needs as a potential customer or partner and will be eager to make a good impression.
Business-friendly expositions offer additional services that allow exhibitors and visitors the opportunity to truly get to know each other and their needs. The Tri-City Exposition offers private conference space to exhibitors so that they can move away from the hustle and bustle of the exposition floor and speak one-on-one with a potential customer. These quiet and private meeting areas are removed from the hustle and bustle of the expo floor and offer the real opportunity to get to know a new client.
Knowing what your competition is doing also is a key to business success. Expositions offer a window into the tools your competition is using to sell their business and the products that they are offering. By observing how your competition promotes their business, you place yourself inside your competition’s sales process. Look for partnerships and relationships that might benefit your business by observing how other businesses market and promote their business. The observant businessperson can learn many great things at a trade show if they stay focused on making the exposition meet their needs.
Each year, over 3,000 businesspeople visit the more than 225 exhibitors at the Tri-City Business to Business Exposition, a joint effort of the Greater Concord, Nashua and Manchester Chambers of Commerce. They meet potential business partners, educate themselves about the latest marketing practices and reconnect with clients past and present. During the four-hour exposition, show visitors can turn the jam-packed free-for-all into a valuable business development tool — if they now what their objectives are, and are focused on making the show work for them.
The Greater Nashua, Greater Manchester and Greater Concord chambers of commerce are presenting the 19th annual Tri-City Business Exposition. Sponsors include Patriot Healthcare, Catholic Medical Center, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Public Service of New Hampshire and FairPoint Communications.
For more information, call one of the hosting chambers: the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, 224-2508; the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, 666-6600; or the Greater Nashua Chamber 881-8333.
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This article appears in the August 31 2007 issue of New Hampshire Business Review