From Disappointment to Success: How a Trade Show Exhibit Changed the Fate and Direction of a Company
This is a guest post written by Bev Gray, CEO of Exhibit Edge, a full-service trade show exhibit and consultation company serving the Virginia, Maryland, DC areas and beyond.
With 18 years of being a provide
r for the exhibit industry, I have seen many clients exhibit at many types of trade shows. I have also seen many opportunities for expansion of company brand, products, or services and to build relationships. What I hadn’t seen, until recently, is a company complete change its market and direction as a result of their exhibiting. I’d like to share with you this recent experience.
Scott and his partner, Tim, had developed a jump suit for the hunting industry that, with the help of their patented machine, removed all human scent odors. The machine changed the structure of molecules that create the human scent. How it works for the hunter is, before going into the woods, he or she hooks the machine up to the suit for 5 minutes to completely remove the human scent. If you know anyone who hunts, you know how obsessive they can be over hiding their scent and covering their tracks – so this seemed to be a great product for hunters!
This company received some financial backing to bring their product to market. One of the marketing methods that they chose to pursue was exhibiting at a hunting trade show. They approached us about designing a custom booth and receiving consultation to make the most of their presence… as the SHOT Show in Las Vegas approached, they had very high hopes for their public debut.
Their product and their 10’ booth didn’t disappoint, drawing crowds and attention throughout the duration of the show. Some key aspects of their exhibit as well as some important actions they took were:
- Their booth displayed a technology feel, just like their product.
- They displayed a video explaining the product technology.
- They conducted live demonstrations involving attendees and creating buzz on the floor.
- They distributed brochures about their product.
- They were highly prepared to answer questions about their product; not with just off-the-cuff answers, but with carefully thought out, researched responses that painted the product in the best light possible.
- They checked out their competition and made comprehensive notes for their next shows.
- They let themselves be compared to their competitor and talked about the differences to the attendees.
- They offered show discounts to hunting store owners who showed interest in carrying the product.
- They conducted a couple of sales meeting during non-show hours.
- They collected and took detailed notes about their qualified leads promising to follow-up within the next two weeks.
- They attempted to set up future sales meetings with leads, rather than talking to them but not putting a date on the calendar.
- They sought out additional potential partners who were interested in the technology.
After the show, Scott and Tim felt confident that they would be taking sales orders. They followed up on all of their leads within the promised two week period. Despite all of this hard work, and doing the little things that really make you succeed, sales just did not take off as they expected. As the months passed, they began to get discouraged by the steady, but not rapidly-growing results. We’ve all been here before and know this feeling – it takes persistence and determination to push through this, and they did just that.
One of their sales calls, which was generated from a trade show lead, was to a man who was a hunter but also worked in the healthcare industry. He explained to Scott and Tim that he had been thinking about their product and their show presentation quite a bit. He said he envisioned an application in hospital and lab environments where sanitization is critical and wanted to talk further about the product with his connections in the healthcare industry. Nine months and many phone calls and meetings later, Jim & Scott have just been awarded a sizeable grant to do the research and modifications necessary so that their unique product can be utilized in the healthcare industry. They are currently in this R&D phase and hope to have a revised product within six months. Through this grant they have already come across some very interesting findings; for instance, they have also discovered that when they run their product for several hours without the suit, it will remove odors from a room.
While the partners were confident about their original hunting application for their technology product, a single, memorable meeting at their first trade show opened the door to a potentially much-more lucrative product. It was their repeated phone calls and tenacity that assisted them in their pursuit of success.
Bev Gray is CEO of Exhibit Edge, a full-service trade show exhibit and consultation company serving the Virginia, Maryland, DC areas and beyond. Bev has been involved in the trade show industry for over 15 years.
photo credit: armyengineersnorfolk