Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Challenges of Exhibiting in a Down Economy

Yikes! Now that we know we’re officially in a recession, we can go about the business at hand. Of course there’s the initial panic, denial and withdrawal, but how many times have we gone through this cycle? Business has and always will be a rollercoaster.

What can we do this time around? The same strategy as always… long term planning.

Business development is a process of ongoing research, planning, reviewing budgets, building relationships, negotiation, instituting metrics and reviewing, changing and starting all over again. “Steady as she goes”. As time, technology and market demands forces us to eliminate excess and maximize productivity and profits, we need to continually exercise a “lean and mean” modus operandi in an up or down economy.

Make do with less.
We need to continually look at cost effective ways of reaching our market. “Do you really need that many people to staff the booth?” What are the new technology tools that can help us sell? Are shipping, setup, and managing the booth eating up most of the budgets?

More often than not, outside consultants can be a most cost-effective way to assist in planning, strategizing, and executing a long term plan that will get you more “bang for the buck” than trying to manage with your internal team. Because of their experience with many companies, issues and circumstances, they can bring to the table a wider array of solutions and experiences as well as a broader network of resources.

Re-use, extend, repurpose
Before you trash that old exhibit, try to find creative ways to re-use and extend the life of it. There are many opportunities to take a custom sign tower, and re-engineer it to work with a modular system. Or reface booth walls with new materials and graphics. Large or small, with a creative eye, there are many possibilities to save costs by extending the life of your booth properties.

Ongoing training, planning
Too often, tradeshow activities in small companies gear up 2-3 months before a show and panic ensues dues to deadlines and rash decisions. Whether you exhibit once or year, or dozens of times a year, your tradeshow program should be a year-round, ongoing concern. Training sales and marketing staff on the ins-and-outs of how the shows work and understanding the system will go a long way in terms of efficiency and ultimate success. It also empowers staff to multitask, thereby reducing overhead by eliminating unnecessary personnel at the show.

There are many more options besides the general panic and budget slashing. Bottom-line, institute a long-term program to plan for the next market boom… or bust.

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