What the New York Auto Show Can Teach Us About Trade Show Marketing

Trade show marketing is important for companies to build brand awareness. The purpose for trade shows is to drive sales.  As a Dental Sales Rep, I worked the Greater New York Dental meeting. This is a show where Dental Manufacturers and distributors show off current and new products they have to offer. Today, I am going to discuss how companies can drive sales at trade shows. I am also going to use the New York Auto show to offer examples of best practices for trade show marketing.

When planning for a trade show it is important to decide on the size of your booth. Also you need to decide on your message and theme. Are you going to offer free product demonstrations? How are you going to get customers? How are you going to mobilize your staff? What is the reason you are attending the show. Are you looking to build brand awareness? Are you looking to increase sales? What is your budget for the show? Also how much time do you need to set up your display?

All of these questions should be handled before you can go ahead.  Also it is imperative that you get the word out that you are attending the event. Let your customers’ know what your booth number is and where to find you. You can do this by delivering literature to customers during sales calls. I have done this many times in the past.  Make sure to share postings on social media sites such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. Advertise in your industry trade magazine and on industry related web sites. The organizers of the trade show will do this as well but you as companies need to do your part. Make sure your displays’ dazzle your audience. All presentations need to be top-notch!

The Automotive industry really does a great job with trade show marketing. I recently covered the New York Auto show as a member of the press. The show is going on through Sunday, 4/15/12 so I suggest you head down there to check it out. At this show, I saw some amazing unveils of the Chevy Impala, Mercedes, BMW M6’s, Lexus ES350, Nissan Altima and the Dodge Viper which was my personal favorite. I saw a stunt driver burn rubber with the Viper! Ford also had an amazing display as well. The Ford Mustang’s have their own place downstairs away from the main display. The auto show is shared on Facebook, and Twitter. The automotive manufactures also promote the show on their own social media channels. Many of the unveils were broadcast live on social media channels.

What made these unveils so exciting was the showmanship of the executives along with the videos and in the case of the Mercedes display; a live band. You saw the cars on the TV screen then the executives would drive up with the cars. They engaged the audience! Every car had a story and you felt like you wanted to buy it. Every trade show could be enhanced by watching the techniques employed at this show.

On the public days, professional spokespeople present the cars and trucks to the crowds. But don’t take my word for it, go out and see the show. Still not convinced? Here are the pictures!

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How to Deal with Difficult Customers

In sales, we all have to deal with difficult customers. Today, I am going discuss how to deal with difficult customers. In a previous post, I discussed how to get customers to pay on time. Before I can discuss how to handle difficult customers, the situation needs to be put in context. In other words, why were the customers being difficult? Were they being difficult because you screwed up their order or service call? Are they just miserable people? Does the customer constantly cancel their orders? What kind of relationship do you have with this customer? How important is your customer to your bottom line or monthly quota.

Now I know that the first thing you want to do with a nasty customer is to tell them off and fire them. My answer is to resist this urge. You need to remain calm in order to figure out what is causing the customers hostility. If the customer is being hostile because you and your company screwed up, take responsibility and fix the situation. I always did this during my time in outside sales.  If you have a customer who constantly wastes your time having you order items only to cancel these orders, I suggest having a discussion with the customer to try and settle the issue at hand. If this goes nowhere then fire the customer! (Provided they do a small amount of business with you.)

Should you have a customer that is nasty who has a long standing relationship with the company, with you and is crucial to you bottom line/ making your sales quota, I suggest that you suck it up and find a way to keep this customer happy. You do not want to cut your nose to spite you face.

Handling collections can also create difficulty between you and your customer. However, this does not have to be the case. Customers will usually not pay an invoice because of the following reasons: the product you sold them did not work, they lost their invoice, they are having cash flow problems, or the sales rep was too lazy to follow up with the customers. If the product you sold them does not work, fix the issue immediately. If the customer lost their invoice, provide them with another copy and follow up. If the customer is having cash flow problems work out a payment plan. If you are the sales rep follow up. If you’re the sales manager, lean on the rep. Remember to be respectful to the customer. It is important to keep in mind that you want to sell this customer items in the future; not just collect a debt. (I discuss getting customers to pay on time in a previous post.)

Many difficult customers can be managed with great customer service and follow through. However, some cannot be dealt with and need to be fired. Firing customers should be a last resort.