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May 13, 2008

Earn more profits by targeting your conference attendanceBob Morantrade show, marketing, referral partners Recently, I received an invitation to attend a trade show in Manhattan, N.Y. The chief executive officer of my bank is well-connected, and regularly emphasizes the importance of building relationships as a key to building our business. The call came from a colleague of one of his referral partners at a business bank. Their bank was going to "man a table" at an upcoming industry conference and they wanted to know if Id like to attend with them. The way to turn manning a table into a significant business opportunity is through targeting. Targeting is a three-step process: • Identify the high-probability needs of the attendees; • Select the relevant products and services you offer; and • Communicate your offering as the solution to their need. Identify attendee needs The way to identify the high-probability needs of the attendees is to look at the purpose of the event. They are attending that event because it serves a purpose for them individually or for their company. In my case, the event was the annual Super Seminar Day, hosted by the New York Staffing Association (NYSA). The members of NYSA are temporary staffing companies in the New York area. The attendees are owners and executives of those companies. They are attending seminars to learn about developments in their industry that can give them a competitive edge. They can gain a competitive edge by learning about something that their competitors are not doing and adopting it for themselves. That would give them a unique advantage. Another way would be for them to learn about a better way to do something that they, and their competitors, already do. That would give them a qualitative advantage. Now that I've identified that the attendees are executives looking for new or better ideas about operating their businesses, whats the best solution we can offer? Select relevant offerings Identifying your key prospects is a way to become more productive by limiting your efforts to activities that produce significant returns rather than trying to be all things to all people. At my company, one of our key prospect groups is business owners. As a result, we have developed a program that provides business owners with something to offer their employees that can offset the increased expenses of health benefits. The program includes lunch and learn education events for employees, savings on closing costs for employees and does not cost the employer anything. Communicate the solution The best way to communicate the solution in this case is during a one-on-one meeting with the executives who attend. While walking the floor at a show, most attendees are attempting to set a land speed record and gather as many free promotional items as possible. To arrange the one-on-one meetings, I will call the NYSA members in advance, mention my companys programs and ask them if they will be at the event. Using the event as a place to have several planned one-on-one meetings, rather than table "drop-bys," will help to establish the relationship on a more professional and solid basis. In summary, by using the three-step targeting process, you will have a clear idea of what trade show attendees need, what your best solution is and you can determined the best way to communicate your message with confidence. You can begin multiple high-quality relationships with key people, rather than leaving it up to random chance. Bob Moran is director of business development for Worldwide Financial Resources. He may be reached at (732) 698-0300 or e-mail [email protected].
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