It's been said countless times, "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger." It's a saying that I heard often growing up when I got sick, and it's ringing through my head now as I type this note and fight off an end-of-summer cold. Right now, forget the getting stronger part ... I'll just be glad to survive.
I think that sentiment may ring true with many of you in the industry as well. Not necessarily because of the summer cold, but rather because of the economic hardships our country has faced in recent months. I've talked to many of you at trade shows and over the phone, and I know it's a tough time for businesses around the country and also for your dental customers. When things slow down in the dental office, all of us in the dental industry feel it eventually.
As you read the September issue of Proofs, we are entering the fall trade show season. It's a time that we often sit back, look at the traffic on the trade show floor, pour through the numbers of visitors to booths and orders taken, and determine if the economy has rebounded or not. It's a time when we put a collective blood pressure cuff around the arm of the industry and gauge its health. This year, if that's what you're using to measure the economy, you're going to be scared.
Preliminary figures for the ADA Annual Session in Orlando are low and, if past history is an indicator, the show floor will not be packed in the land of Disney. In August, RDH magazine, a sister publication of Proofs, held its annual RDH Under One Roof conference for dental hygienists in Orlando at the Dolphin resort on Walt Disney World property. A show that has gathered more than 1,000 dental hygienists in the past fell back into triple digits in 2010. This was not a huge surprise. It was simply a fact of the times. Money is tight. Travel budgets are being examined. Choices are made. People stay home.
The same will hold true for the ADA session in October in Orlando. If what I've heard holds true, the show in Orlando will be smaller. My question to you is ... Are you prepared for that?
What are you doing today to get ready for fewer customers in the show floor aisle? What plans does your company have in place to capitalize on fewer attendees? Do you have a system ready to go that can turn fewer leads into sales? If you haven't asked yourself and your company these questions, now is the time to do it.
My words today are not an alarm bell, but merely what I hope will be a wakeup call. Times are changing. Trade shows are changing. Attendance patterns are changing. Is your company changing? Is your sales approach changing? If not, why? Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Knowing ADA (and Greater New York) are just around the corner, I think you'll find great interest in our article dealing with trade show success ("10 tips for trade show success") on page 84. Take a few moments to read the article, look over the checklists, and see if there is anything you can change or improve for the fall.
One paragraph in the aforementioned article ties in with my message of the month, "Attending trade shows is a 'must do' for any competitive business, so understand that there is no substitute for these annoying/amazing events. Respect the value of each trade show and consider the opportunities presented as a major element in your overall marketing plan. Don't be naïve and think that just showing up is good marketing, or that opportunities will fall into your lap. You should have a trade show plan that capitalizes on each area of opportunity."
As you prepare for Orlando, I hope you're not only making sure your sales materials are packed and your booth props have shipped, but also that you've included a new vision and marketing plan in your suitcase. If so, I believe you'll come out from an ill economy even stronger.
I look forward to seeing you in Orlando and New York. Here's to a great fall trade show season for all of us.
Read on ... this is your magazine.