What’s Happening with Trade Shows?
Full disclosure here—and I’ve said this before—I love trade shows. There is no better way for distributors to connect with their supplier partners. Suppliers have the opportunity to connect with new prospects and to strengthen relationships with current customers. There is no question, however, that the dynamics of trade shows are changing. It’s a big topic that I will address in two parts.
Trade shows offer professional development opportunities that you can’t get elsewhere. The networking component of trade shows nurtures long-lasting personal relationships. These relationships are one of the things I cherish most about my choice to be actively involved in the promotional marketing industry. This article is being written during the Specialty Advertising Association of Southern California (SAAC) Show. The SAAC Show draws engaged distributors and suppliers. It’s held in Long Beach, Calif., which is a beautiful location, and it’s cool in August!
Preshow education kicked off with two thought-provoking sessions. Mark Graham, president of Commonsku, presented a session geared toward suppliers more effectively communicating with distributors. Rod Brown, chief financial officer from MadeToOrder, and Gary Haley, president of Beacon Promotions, facilitated Product Safety Jeopardy, covering an important topic with a unique approach. The always fun PromoKitchen Chefs hosted their classic mixer where relationships are built and a good time was had by all.
Some may find this amazing, but I participated in the SAAC Ex-President (Craig Reese from Jack Nadel) Run/Walk at 6:15 a.m. This speaks to the commitment that people have to be fit and active. I have a long way to go, but I catch the vision and enjoy walking. Successful people take care of themselves, so they can stay healthy and continue to be successful. It’s great that SAAC adds this informal event to the show
Wednesday morning at the convention center began with a state-of-the-Industry panel discussion, featuring a brain trust of wisdom. Graham also facilitated this interesting session. The panel featured: Marty Lott, CEO of SanMar, Tom Goos, President of Image Source, Leeton H. Lee from ETS Express, Tom Mertz, CEO of Distributor Central and Trade Net Publishing, Karen Kravtiz from Commotion Promotions and Nichole Stella, President of the Promo Marketing Media Group. It was a great way to start the day!
The show floor was busy. Throughout the day several suppliers had the opportunity to share their lines in a more intimate setting through the Sizzling Supplier Session format. This innovative component was implemented at the SAAC Show as an added benefit for distributors and suppliers.
We had the opportunity to film some suppliers showcasing their new products you may not have seen. Click the links below to get a close up look at these great product lines in these informative videos:
- Phil Martin from Warwick Publishing Co. shows a colorful new take on a classic product.
- Sheila Basswood from Fields Manufacturing shares a new tech item.
- Barbara Forde from Bag Makers speaks about the supplier's innovative technology.
- Mark Trotzuk from Boardroom Eco Apparel discusses his unique apparel line.
- Mark Jenson talks about the latest from Pioneer Line.
- David Goldfarb unveils new back-to-school products from Evans Manufacturing.
Here are a few interesting statistics about trade shows:
- 81 percent of trade show attendees have buying authority.
- 67 percent of trade show attendees represent a new prospect and potential customer.
- 46 percent of trade show attendees are in executive or upper management.
- The No. 1 reason for attending trade shows is to see new products.
Suppliers have told me that in today’s environment, regional association’s have a great opportunity to facilitate an effective trade show. The scale of these can vary in size, but they bring in a high-quality buyer and have the flexibility to be creative with their events.
The SAAC Show, as a regional association event, adds a few nice touches to their show. SAAC provided lunch for suppliers on set-up day. Sizzling Supplier Education Sessions on the show floor were beneficial. The evening event featured wine tasting and a performance by the Industry All-Star Band. Next up was the rocking ZOOMcatalog party at a dueling piano bar. On day two, SAAC brought out the In and Out Burger truck with a free lunch for everyone. This is a cultural icon in the west and people love it!
FreePromoTips supports a few key trade shows by bringing you a unique perspective on the show. A full report with video on the SAAC Show including product spotlights you may not see elsewhere will be in our next e-newsletter.
The SAAC Show as always is an awesome event. Trade shows, however, are facing many challenges. As I did research for this topic, I spoke to a few suppliers and trade show directors. I learned quite a bit from those discussions. The landscape of the trade show is changing and there is much to consider. That information will be shared in my next commentary.
Jeff Solomon, MAS, is a distributor affiliated with a top 10 distributor company. The FreePromoTips.com website and e-newsletters he publishes are packed with beneficial information. On the website, you can opt-in to receive these informative twice-a-month e-newsletters! Check out what’s new in the GP2: Good Products—Good Prices section of the site. Take advantage of free end-user safe product videos you can share from the http://yourpromotionsolution.com website. Like the FreePromoTips.com page on Facebook, follow it on Twitter and Pinterest, and connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.