What To Do When Nothings New: Five Strategies for Success
There are years when companies struggle to survive. Other years, it takes every ounce of effort just to maintain market position. Is it even worth exhibiting during these times? Do the results of participating in a trade show while your companys in a lull phase justify the costs
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Look at that throng of people crowding the trade show floor. People come from all over the country to walk these aisles, eager eyes flitting from booth to booth, scanning the exhibits for what, exactly?
Research shows that the vast majority 76% — come to trade shows to discover whats new and exciting. Maybe its a new product, or an innovative bit of technology, or a snazzy new application, or even an entire company that they were never aware of before. In an ideal world, every company would be constantly innovating, creating cutting edge products at phenomenal savings guaranteed to meet the customers needs.
But as you and I know, business doesnt work that way. There are years when companies struggle to survive. Other years, it takes every ounce of effort just to maintain market position. And still other times, things might be fine, but the newest innovation is six, twelve, even eighteen months on the horizon.
Is it even worth exhibiting during these times? Do the results of participating in a trade show while your companys in a lull phase justify the costs?
Absolutely! In fact, it is precisely at these times when not participating could hurt your bottom line. Businesses rise and fall based on the strength of personal relationships. There is no better place to form new relationships and maintain and reinforce existing relationships than at a trade show.
To do this, you need to create a positive impression with your exhibit. Demonstrate something new and exciting. Give the people what they want. How can you do that, you ask, when you dont have any new and exciting products?
Here are five focus strategies the pros use when theyre in a similar situation:
1. Focus on Features: Purveyors of high-tech or complicated products often dont realize how little consumers know about the items they purchase. For example, take the average word processing program. It has countless features yet how many does the everyday user know about, much less use? Realize that your buyers may not even know what they dont know. Heres an opportunity to offer seminars, tutorials, or other interactive options centered on the more obscure features. This way, youre demonstrating that you value your customers and want them to make the most of your products/services. You could win their loyalty for life.
2. Focus on the Future: If the next big innovation is in sight, but youre not ready to spill the beans just yet, youve got an ideal opportunity to create a buzz. Some of the most effective excitement generating campaigns say little, if anything, about the new product, yet still create an impression that something noteworthy is about to happen. Signage, graphics, and literature all declaring Its Coming! let the public know that youre excited about the new product and that they should be too.
3. Focus on Finesse: Is there a way to make your product new and improved? Youll sometimes see this technique that Ive called the Proctor & Gamble strategy. Every so often, youll see a new and improved version of a product introduced laundry soap, shampoo, deodorant, and so on yet youd have to be a chemical engineer to notice any discernable difference between the old product and the new one. Still, consumers flock to the new, even if its only slightly different than the product they were previously satisfied with. If you cant change your product, what about the packaging? Glidden changed their paint can while still keeping their actual product, the paint, the same as it ever was, and saw sales rise as a result.
4. Focus on People: Great products wouldnt exist without great people. Consider putting a human face on your operation by centering your latest exhibit around the people who make, test, or use your product. Post Cereal, Reynolds Wrap, and NAPA auto parts have all used this strategy successfully during periods when their product line was fairly static and then carried the idea forward, altering it as needed to introduce new products!
5. Focus on Service: Many times, were asking buyers to make a huge investment to buy our products. If something goes wrong, the buyer worries that they will be left holding the bag on a very expensive mistake. Reassure consumers that theyll never be alone if there is a problem. By promoting service plans, support networks, and other types of assistance, youre demonstrating that youll be there for your customer through thick or thin!