Maximize Your Trade Show Experience
I have exhibited or attended each of the last 22 BookExpo America shows, and I served my time as a trade-show manager for Fortune 500 companies. I understand what makes a profitable experience at such an event. My BEA experiences have shown me that book publishers could do a great deal more to improve the results they get from their exhibiting expenditures.
Of course, they create elaborate displays staffed by knowledgeable employees. The shelves and floors are filled with books, many free for the taking. The ornate walls are adorned with posters of book covers and announcements of upcoming author signings. And the staff can meticulously describe the authors’ backgrounds. But all that demonstrates is that they miss the point of successfully exhibiting at a trade show. It appears that a good day at the show is determined by the number of people in line to get a free, autographed book.
The exhibitors’ focus is on the authors because they are trying to sell their books. And that is where they go wrong. They could sell more books by translating how the content of the books can benefit the customers. Let’s take the focus off of glitz and put it where it belongs: consummating large-quantity sales and making the contacts that can lead to future sales.
The results of displaying at a trade show may not be immediately recognizable. Your actions may have long-term implications, especially if you attend a show with the right objectives. Of course, short-term sales are good, but many other benefits accrue from exhibiting at a show such as BEA. Here are a few that come to mind:
Objectives that lead to sales
- Generate qualified sales leads
- Build relationships with prospects
- Advance the sales cycle
- Establish new distribution
- Meet buyers face-to-face and get their feedback
- See customers you do not frequently contact
- Distribute product samples
- Highlight value-added services
- Create/increase a distribution network
- Reach customers at low cost-per-call
- Shorten the buying process
- Build your brand
- Re-position your brand
- Launch new brand campaigns
- Increase awareness
- Target a message to a market segment
- Survey market awareness
- Interview customers and prospects
- Generate publicity
- Reinforce direct mail
- Support a corporate marketing theme
- Introduce a new promotional program
- Distribute product information
- Reinforce or change the perception of your company
- Enhance word-of-mouth
- Round out the corporate marketing mix
- Launch new products
- Test marketing
- Survey attendees about new product ideas
- Survey attendees about current titles
- Research competitors’ products and messages
- Enter a new market
- Understand customer problems
- Solve customer problems
- Identify new product applications
- Showcase a projected new product
- Support distribution partners
- Understand your prospects’ decision-making processes
- Keep up on industry trends
- Meet with key clients
- Meet with key business partners
- Profitably build your business
- Recruit personnel
- Create VIP events for special customers
- Conduct a sales meeting
- Seek international expansion
- Expose new employees to an industry
- Give your customers an opportunity to meet experts
- Support the publishing industry
- Uncover joint venture opportunities
- Host special industry hospitality events
- Entertain special customers.
- Attend or present at educational sessions
- Meet with industry experts
If you want to experience these benefits, have knowledgeable and personable employees work your exhibits. Staff your booth with people who are trained to talk with—and sell to—prospective buyers. Give your workers frequent breaks so when they are on duty they are refreshed and amiable. They may even look as if the like being there. When they are off booth duty, have them walk the floor, networking with people and in search of new ideas and opportunities. And tell them to use their cell phones when not on duty.
Let’s get back to the basics. Perhaps after a few more BEA shows with this focus, people will refer to us as the book-selling industry instead of the book-publishing industry.
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."