Spring in MetVan – Trade Show Time

We were at the Ridge Meadows Home Show last night. I have to give these guys kudos. This Home Show has really grown and is attracting more and more businesses, not just in the Valley. Jokingly I remarked it cost us $4 to get in and $400 to get out. As we walked around inside and out I was struck by how many small businesses there were, and how many were sitting back and not being interactive.

More importantly, the small businesses who were talking with people, and had prizes and swag were seeing a huge number of people swamp them.

In the past when I’ve done trade shows, I learned swag and prizes are what gets people in. But you have to have your sales pitch down. This is that all famous 30 seconds that you practice when you go to the local Chamber of Commerce meeting. Trade shows are the live performance. You get a very brief period of time to attract a customer when they walk by.

And why do you bring swag and prizes? Well the latter is easy. You get a database of names. And depending on your business, this is an opportunity to personally connect with every person after the show, be it by email or mail or phone – however your sign up was set up. Swag is just “something shiny” to ensure people see you.

The other thing I saw was people pushing through the crowd, or making rude remarks about some of the small business people within ear shot. Reading Reddit this morning, I was reminded of the cardinal rule of life: DBAD


It is hard to put yourself out there. It is hard to approach hundreds of strangers and hope they remember your name. It is hard to keep positive when it is obvious someone isn’t ready to buy. It is the Golden Rule – Treat Others as you want to be treated – DBAD.

Yes, it is true, some of the things we got we won’t use. But, for us, there were a lot of gems. And that’s beside the awesome “Po’ Boy” sandwich out in the main area which went straight to my hips.

What did I hope to gain by trade shows?

  • Getting my name out there.
  • Connecting with people who may know someone who needs a lead.
  • Tying this into my marketing strategy.
  • Learning where interest lies and seeing if I can adapt to anything new.
  • Hearing from competitors about what they are doing.
  • Learning small business tips from other small businesses.

I guess it worked, since here I am. Never be afraid to try something new. And never consider it a failure until you are sure. You have no idea where one conversation will lead and how it will affect you further down the line. But above all, if someone doesn’t know the DBAD rule, you do. So you don’t need to treat them with anything but professionalism.

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