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Shows them? Who needs by Peter Savage T rade shows can be hugely valuable for your business, but only if you have the right approach, as Peter Savage explains. Well, the season has finished – the festive season that is and, by the time you have sat down to read this, the new season will be almost upon us. What season is that? I hear you mutter. The trade show season. Yes, February is the start of the trade show merry-go round: BVE quickly followed by NAB then various other shapes and sizes, culminating in IBC in the autumn. (With BVE North now slightly extending the season beyond its usual finale.) A necessary evil? Those who regularly exhibit at these shows often respond with a sharp intake of breath, giving the impression that these events are a tedious chore. Heaven forbid! What a chore to have to talk to customers! Surely it should be the reverse? And this is my angle, for customers and manufacturers or dealers: shows are great mouthpieces for your business – if you plan and co-ordinate your time there, and if you work hard. Attending shows is not a reward for you to cruise through without effort. It is not a punishment, forcing you to wear a forced smile as you exchange yet more of the same pleasantries with yet more of the same types. It is not even a necessary evil. It is a fantastic opportunity to boost your business – and your self-esteem, there and later when orders come through. What’s the point? Let’s run through the basics, from an exhibitor’s point of view: Good shows bring together, for a pre-determined time, a collection of like-minded people in our industry. 42 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE Good shows can be a relatively cost effective way of exhibiting your business (compared with, for example, advertising). The effect on your profit and loss can, and should, be easily monitored. These are all, I think we can agree, pluses for exhibitors. Let’s look at the other side: what benefits can these points bring the consumer? Good shows bring together, for a pre-determined time, a collection of like-minded people in our industry… what an excellent place for networking. Putting around the name and skills of your business ensures that the next time the potential customer you’ve met with is looking for your particular trade… they think of you. For small businesses, good shows can be a cost effective way of exhibiting your business by just attending. However, don’t rely on on-spec networking, instead, tell people you will be there. Make the effort to call customers and potential suppliers to ask if they are going – and fix a time to meet up. I have never exhibited at NAB but I have made a couple of great leads in Vegas, mainly because I knew the prospect was attending so I called them beforehand and said, “can we hook up at NAB?” which we did – and eventually did business. Yes, it’s strange that I had to go half way round the world to see someone who works less than 25 miles from my office but, at a show like NAB, everyone has made the effort to go and they will want to talk business – well, most will ... and they are the ones to target, even if they do work round the corner. Never leave things to chance; it works … if you make it happen. The effect on your profit and loss can, and should, be easily monitored … if you do your homework and plan your time at the show. Take in new technology, check out products, look at services, research how much your competitors are charging … then the cost of your ticket can be considered a cheap price to pay for all the information you assimilate. What will your strategy be? My advice is to pick the shows that are on the up – and be innovative. Looking in detail at the effects of various shows on our balance sheet it’s BVE versus IBC. BVE – it’s new, younger and in the UK, whereas IBC is European and far bigger but can be impersonal for small dynamic companies wanting to make their mark – so it depends on the needs of your business. You can be innovative as a customer and as a visitor. Find ways to stand out from the crowd so people notice and remember you. I think that tv-bay has made a great move in running video interviews (sponsored by manufacturers and others) at the show. People always notice cameras and crews; manufacturers always like PR; and short clips are easy to follow or download from the Internet. Good thinking guys. And finally, from a visitor perspective, I think this year could be really good at both BVE and at NAB. There are new cameras from Sony and Canon (taking on the Alexa); with the Olympics coming there should be a good buzz about the UK (orders are already taking shape); and there is the chance to catch up with loads of like-minded industry people … just like you. So pack your comfy shoes, some Neurofen, plenty of water and I look forward to seeing you during the trade show season – starting with BVE in February. If you would like to discuss the strategic direction of your business, or need help with financial planning, do email me at peter. savage@azule.co.uk and/or write to the TV Bay editor. For more information about us, or to read other articles in this series, look at our website: www.azule.co.uk