Upcoming Tri-City Expo can jump-start your business

It seems like you could spend your entire day traveling from one trade show and business exposition to another. Industry-specific, business-to-business and business-to-consumer – the list is never-ending. With so many possible choices for your promotions dollar, businesspeople are asking themselves, “Are trade shows and expositions for my company? What should I expect my return on investment to be? How can I get the most out of my decision to participate and which shows should I participate in?”

The correct answers to these questions can make the difference between wasted time and effort and growing your business. Finding an expo that will attract the right attendees is the key to success. Spending the entire day trying to sell people circles when they want and need squares is a recipe for disappointment. Most businesses find a general business-to-business show to be the best bang for their buck. Businesses from a variety of industries promoting their products and services attract an equally diverse group of attendees. For many businesspeople having an opportunity to choose from many different services is more inviting than row after row of industry specific vendors.

Perhaps the best and most successful example of this type of exposition is the Tri-City Business After Hours and Exposition hosted by the Greater Nashua, Manchester and Concord chambers of commerce.

Now in its 16th year, the expo has perfected this business-to-business format. Exhibitors number more than 225 and represent virtually every business type. From printers to accountants and airlines to hotels, the expo offers a broad cross-section of need.

Strong sponsorship by established New Hampshire companies such as Public Service of New Hampshire, Catholic Medical Center and Manchester Airport give a good indication of the quality opportunities available at the exposition. Held at the Center of New Hampshire-Radisson Hotel Manchester Exposition Center from 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 29, the expo is certain to give businesspeople an exceptional opportunity for promotion and business development.

Maximizing your benefit

If you choose to participate in a general business-to-business exposition, such as the Tri-City Expo, rather than an industry-specific trade show, there are certain qualities that you should look for. Successful shows have an additional “hook” that attracts people to the show. Well-known speakers, large giveaways, celebrity autograph signing and food giveaways are all proven ways to get attendees through the door.

In 2003, the Tri-City Exposition created the Tiki Bistro, which featured local restaurants and caterers serving food items that complemented the show’s theme, “It’s a Jungle Out There.” During the course of the show, the bistro served food to over 1,800 expo attendees and exhibitors. For a local or regional show, like Tri-City, food giveaways can be a powerful marketing tool, especially when the participating restaurants are well known and respected. Such a giveaway can grow attendance at the show in following years by as much as 25 percent.

Once you have decided on the right show for you, maximizing your benefit is the key to a good experience. Some shows focus on a high-energy, quick-paced environment intended to have as many attendees pass by the exhibitor booths as possible. Other shows are much slower-paced and stress the ability to actually close a deal during the show. The Tri-City Expo focuses on the latter. During a quick window of opportunity, exhibitors have the opportunity to make a positive impression on literally thousands of potential customers and business partners.

The key to success is making a positive and lasting impression. Incorporating many of the proven qualities of an expo into your booth will help to make your effort successful. Prizes, games, food and eye-catching booths will catch people’s attention and draw them to your exhibit. Follow-up will make them customers. Focus on getting business cards and building product awareness by giving away interesting items and having a memorable booth. Offer door prizes and raffles that require attendees to leave their business card and then follow up after the show. Nothing will help to jog their memory more than when you follow up to remind them of your interesting and unique booth.

Also, focus on having the right people staff your booth. Nothing is more frustrating than talking to a booth attendant who doesn’t know the business he or she is representing.

Expositions and trade shows can be a great marketing and business development tool. If you are looking for a new opportunity to promote and grow your business, call one of the three hosting chambers of commerce for more information. If you are in the Nashua area, call 881-8333, in the Manchester area, call 666-6600, or in Concord, call 224-2508. nhbr

Chris Hodgdon is president of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce.

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