If you’ve attended trade shows in the past, you know that it’s kind of difficult to sum up the experience to those who have never been. Yes, trade shows have manufacturers and distributors showing off their goods and there are crowds gathered to see what everyone has to offer. There’s so much more than this going on, though.
Many contractors don’t realize just how beneficial trade shows can be to their businesses, even if they aren’t working a booth on the trade show floor. If you’ve never stopped to consider how attending a trade show can help you as a contractor, here are just a few of the benefits of hitting up a show.
See the Latest and Greatest
Obviously, one of the biggest draws of trade shows is that they give you a glimpse of the new and upcoming products that suppliers and distributors have to offer. This alone can sometimes be worth the price of admission, as these new products and offerings are sometimes very impressive. While not everything you see on the trade show floor will be of benefit to your business, it’s still a good idea to know what’s new to the market.
In addition to seeing new products and services, you can also use the trade show to get an idea for what the hot trends are in your industry. Sometimes you’ll find that multiple manufacturers are all shifting to the same materials or seem to be following the same installation trends. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on these trends as this can help you stay a step ahead if construction industry demand ends up following the same trend.
Networking, Networking, Networking
Chances are, most if not all of the people attending the trade show either work in the same industry as you or are from an industry with at least a little overlap. With so many potential contacts under one roof there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be out there making connections. Even if potential connections aren’t in the same area as you, you never know when having that contact will come in handy for your business.
This doesn’t just mean other contractors and subs, either. Take the time to get to know the people who work for manufacturers and other suppliers. It never hurts to be on good terms with the people you may someday need to buy from, as having friends on the inside is a great way to get a good deal on your materials.
Build Your Brand
While you’re networking, be sure to put your brand front and center. Make sure that you’re wearing a company shirt, have company-branded business cards to hand out and always introduce yourself AND your company when meeting new people. While the contacts you make might not remember you by name, there’s a good chance that they’ll remember your company name or logo if you made a good impression.
Scope Out the Competition
If you’re at a trade show, there’s a good chance that some of your competitors will be there as well. This can actually be a good thing, as it gives you a few familiar faces in the crowd even if your companies are in competition with each other. It also can help you see what your competitors are interested in.
While this may sound like you’re going undercover to spy on the competition, it’s actually much easier to find out this information than you might think. Assuming that you’re on at least business-friendly terms with them, engage in conversation about what’s going on at the show and see which booths they mention. You might even catch a glimpse of them at some of the booths talking to the reps of different companies. Of course, there’s also a good chance that they’re doing the same to you as well.
Learn What Works and What Doesn’t
One other big advantage of trade shows is that you can find out what others have tried and the success (or lack thereof) that they’ve had. Mistakes and failures cost your business money, so by discussing techniques and materials with other contractors you can find out if there’s anything you can do to avoid those costly errors. Not only that but by swapping your contracting “war stories” you might even net a few more connections in the process as well.
What was the last trade show that you attended? If you haven’t attended any, are you planning on going to one soon?