Kevin Henry, Editor
All in all, the ADA Annual Session in San Francisco was a good show. I've talked to many of the exhibitors who were in the City by the Bay, and everyone seems to have the same synopsis when it comes to floor traffic ... Thursday was slow, Friday was great, and Saturday was pretty good. It was certainly a spread-out show floor, with attendees having to make their way to the north and south halls through the underground connector, but exhibitors seemed to be fairly happy as they packed up at the Moscone Center.
So now what? The ADA is already pushing the New Orleans experience for next year's Annual Session. I talked with many exhibitors in San Francisco, and not one was happy with the 2013 show opening on Halloween ... in New Orleans. I've been to Bourbon Street on normal days and I can't imagine how much more insane the area will be on October 31. Forget Jason or Freddy, that's a frightening enough image for me.
But long before we're strolling past Cafe du Monde next October/November, we have Greater New York to end the 2012 calendar, and the Rocky Mountain Dental Conference and Yankee Dental Congress to open the 2013 slate. You can read about both those January shows in this issue and what organizers are doing to help make your ROI the best it can be.
Of course, it's not just up to the show organizers to make sure you do well at trade shows. You and your company have to do your part as well. Below I've listed three things that every company (and booth body) must do at every trade show to be successful.
1. Make the most of your time — Exhibit hours at the ADA Annual Session in San Francisco were from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for three days. That's eight hours each day for a total of 24 hours that exhibitors spent on the show floor (of course, every show will be different). Sure, there will be some down time at every show when you'll check e-mail or Facebook or return phone calls, but what about the rest of the time? What have you done to ensure you're "on top of your game" at your booth? Are you familiar with everything there is to know about your new products (and why they're better than your competitor's?). Do you have your "elevator speech" ready in case you have only a short time with a potential customer?
2. Know the competition — I have a friend who is a "Mr. Know It All." You know him, right? He's that guy who will say the sky is a different shade of blue than you say just because he wants to share his opinion. He's that guy who will point out flaws in other people just so it makes him look better, even if he's never met the other person. Yeah, he's a real joy to be around. Well … are you telling people that your company's product is better just because you think it's better? If your company wasn't signing your paycheck, would you really think your product was better? How does it really compare to the competition? If your company didn't employ you, what would sway you over to using your product over the competitor's product? To answer that question, you have to know your competitor's product as well as you know your own. Do you have that knowledge or do you just think the competition stinks because it's the competition?
3. Focus on the customers who are there, not the ones who aren't — As I said in a recent Proofs e-newsletter editor's note, we all have to make a conscious decision about trade shows. I've already heard the complaints (many well-justified) about the upcoming slate of ADA dates and sites. However, here's what it boils down to ... either dental exhibitors are going to go where the ADA says, or they aren't. If you and your company decide to exhibit at an ADA Annual Session, that's a conscious decision you have made to spend money and resources. That being said, make the most of your opportunity to interact with current and potential customers. It is time much better spent than standing around griping about why floor traffic is slow.
And it isn't just the ADA Annual Session where that holds true. We all know there are state and national shows where the crowds are, shall we say, less than desirable. It's a matter of playing the hand you're dealt. If you only have 20 doctors coming to your booth at a local dental meeting that you have to be at anyway (since your company made the decision to exhibit there), shouldn't you seize the moment and talk to those 20 doctors about what a great product you have? Or will you be on Facebook while moaning about how slow the show is when they walk up to your booth?
The choice is yours. You can't control where or when a show will be, but you can certainly make the most of your situation no matter where you are.
Read on ... this is your magazine.