Peter Savage continues his discussion on making the most of trade events, combining achievement with enjoyment.
NAB is on and, if you are one of the lucky ones, you might be reading this while sitting on the either the Virgin Atlantic or British Airways flight to Las Vegas.
I don’t know how many people from the UK go to NAB but I guess it is the equivalent of (since BA introduced their direct flight from Heathrow) five Jumbos-full which, according to our uncensored version of Google, is about 2,000 people. This is a significant contribution from the UK broadcast market, irrespective of whether you are buying or selling.
The key thing about NAB, when you come to work out its value, is whether it is worth the investment – or if it is a jolly that comes round once a year for a privileged few. Either way, I will offer you a few tips for making the show work for you, combining enjoyment with hard work, and some dos and don’ts. Then, next month, I will be back and writing about finance.
Rubbish in, rubbish out
All exhibitions, whether you are an exhibitor (as I was last month) or a visitor (as I am this time), are about what you put in. They should, therefore, be accompanied by your pre-exhibition plan. And you need a few SMART targets. SMART as in: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-constrained. As I said, you need to put in a bit of effort and this is the effort bit.
Let’s take some for instances. First, what is my main aim from the week? Let’s be specific. Is it to party all week and get a suntan – or to meet and network with manufacturers? Assuming the first two are off the agenda, if I want to achieve my main aim I will need a plan for achieving it.
Let’s say I want to have 10 meetings over three days with key manufacturers and visit at least 30 key stands. This is realistic. One hundred stands in a week is not realistic. So, don’t be over-ambitious; plan your week so you can go back feeling pleased, not disappointed, with yourself.
It starts on Saturday night. Yes, really. My first aim is to get to bed sufficiently early so I can get the shopping done on Sunday. This is crucial, if I am to survive family life when I get back, and it has to be factored into all good NAB trips. It should not be done during the week when the show is open, so have a good night on Saturday but not so good that you lose your Sunday morning shopping time.
Sunday. Early night to get rid of the jet lag and start fresh on Monday morning. Believe me; you’ll be pleased you took this sensible route, even if it does make you feel middle-aged.
Make the most of your days
Hopefully you have pre-booked your entry, free of charge. Have you also scheduled who and what to see? It is this pre-show homework that will make you use your time efficiently in the exhibition halls.
Check who is exhibiting at what stand and in which hall. Plan days that concentrate on each hall: South on Monday; North on Tuesday (or the other way round) and those you missed on Wednesday.
Make appointments to see specific people at specific times. Touch base but, if you are selling, don’t present your pitch unless they ask for it. Be ready and willing to come back formally later but your first drop-by should be a quick hello to find out when you can take it further, maybe back in the UK and or at a more convenient time during the show.
If you are buying, work out not just your priorities but also the times you will be best at taking in information. For instance, it would be pointless going to a show-opening technical presentation if you have been out till four in the morning the night before.
Manage your evenings
I have a theory that the evenings, now without manufacturer parties, are potentially your best weapon for client liaison. Plan to meet a different client, or potential client, each night for supper. This gives you good quality time in a friendly, non-threatening environment – but leaves plenty of time to catch up with the party boys afterwards.
No dull boys
As everyone knows, all work and no play makes Peter a dull person. So here are some tips on how to relax – or to use as an incentive for having a hard day’s work first.
Head for the show before 10am every morning. Have a large breakfast first so you don’t need lunch. Time by the pool should start no earlier than 5pm. And no drinking before 5pm either. Trust me, if you walk onto a stand having had a lunchtime beer, people will know and some will take a dim view of it.
Plan to eat no later than 8pm so you will be finished with clients around 10pm or 11pm – leaving a bit of time for meeting up with other Brits. And they will usually be found on Sunday and Monday nights at the Piano Bar in New York New York, and on Wednesday night at the top of the Rio all of which I will be making an effort to attend at some time during the evening and I am told the TV-BAY contingency will also try. The other two nights used to be manufacturer party nights but sadly no more.
If you adhere to all of that you will at least return alive. You might even go back with a sense of satisfaction from having achieved something and, perhaps, with a bit of colour from that hour of sunbathing.
If you would like advice on how to measure the success of your attendance at NAB, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve missed previous articles in this series, or would like to comment via our blog, look at www.azule.co.uk.