Meet the Experts – Trade Show consulting with Peter LoCascio
Hello Peter, welcome to The Exhibitor! Tell us a little about you and your professional journey.
Starting at age of 13, I went to work on weekends, school holidays and summer vacations with my father to Exhibit Craft, Inc. in Long Island City, New York. I worked my way through the shop from department to department doing what was asked while learning the business from the broom up. By the time I was 19 years old, I had worked in all departments.
Exhibit Craft split its company, with half going up to Montreal to work on the 1967 world’s Fair. I was assigned as the account executive to Olivetti Underwood, where I managed over 40 trade shows a year.
In 1970, I was hired by Sperry UNIVAC as their corporate trade show exhibits coordinator. In 1971, I was hired as Memorex’s corporate exhibits manager, where I was responsible for 25 shows for the company’s computer, video and audio groups.
I took Memorex’s new audio group to their first Consumer Electronics Show where they famously asked, “Is it live or is it Memorex?” After Memorex, I went to Anaheim to sell exhibits for Design Enterprises.
There, I sold over $150,000 of new exhibits during the first four months after developing a new approach to timely sales. I also reached my annual sales target in less that four months. Design Enterprises was known for doing most of the exhibit work on the Queen Mary. Beckman Instruments called, and as always I went looking for adventure.
Beckman was very serious about trade shows. They spent millions. The president worked every major show. They demanded accountability. There were six divisions going to over 45 shows a year. Every dollar had to be accounted for. We created a new level of trade show marketing that increased sales efficiency and reduced selling time.
In 1990, OrCAD of Hillsboro, Oregon grew from $0 to $8 million in three years in part because of trade shows. Without venture capital, OrCAD bootstrapped its marketing and sales and used trade shows to grow its worldwide business.
What should company expect from trade shows?
Present and demonstrate live product and services. Generate quality sales leads and shorten the time it takes to sell product in the field. Meet and support dealers, distributors and resellers. Meet and support existing customers. Meet and support prospect’s needs and requirements. Train sales and service people. Expose top management to everyday business while working the trade show booth.
What should companies arrange before joining a trade show?
Pre-printed show special quotes effective for 30 day after the trade show. Effective sales lead gathering methods. Pre-show meeting where all booth personnel can share the goals and objectives of exhibiting. Press kit distribution to editors. Mentioning exhibit participation with booth number on all pre-show communications and inviting prospects to visit the exhibit. Effective booth duty roster showing who works the booth and who is captain during show hours. Ensure that all support materials are available in booth. Ensure that immediate follow-up is in place to contact sales leads one week following the show.
How to budget for trade show expenses?
Budgets can be set by estimating how much money the exhibitor would pay to reach one new prospect and what that cost would be using other media than trade show exhibiting. Keeping in mind, the trade show will provide a super sales call with real products, technical and management support in the booth to answer any questions and the prospect is visiting the exhibitor.
How to behave on a booth?
You seldom get a second chance to make a good first impression.
All booth personnel should be trained and ready to meet and carefully manage all visitors. The exhibit and its people will project the image of that exhibitor, its people, products and culture. Competition is next door competing for share of mind, share of revenue.
What is your opinion on digital leads capture such as the one offered by myfairtool?
Any management system that captures and transmits the results of prospect and sales interaction at a trade show is best to successfully manage sales leads.
How to end a conversation with a visitor?
Gather enough quality information so the sales person following up after the show has something in common with the prospect and where the communications is more welcomed. Ensure that all information including the sales person’s name is forwarded to the sales person doing the follow-up.
What is the best follow-up method after the show?
There should be indicated on the sales lead form the best method the prospect wishes to be contacted. Follow his/her request.
What do you advise companies to do to insure proper return on investment?
Use the math associated with making sales in the field against sales potentials at trade shows where prospects come to the exhibitor, competition is next door, real products are on display, technical and management support are available and the show only lasts three days.
Any additional tips for our readers?
Trade show exhibiting is like no other marketing/sales event. Exhibitors in order to maximize their effectiveness must take trade show exhibiting extremely serious in order to profit from the time and expense it takes to exhibit.
|Peter LoCascio is founder at Trade Show Consultants. His specialties are developing Successful Sales and Marketing Strategies and Tactics, Creating Effective Trade Show Exhibiting Management Programs.