May 2012

Supply Side

How to get more out of a mining trade show

By Jon Baird

A mining trade show offers exhibitors a unique advertising and selling situation – one that not only attracts a targeted customer group better than any other publicity medium can, but also one that provides the opportunity for face-to-face encounters with customers.

In 2012, mining supply companies can choose from a variety of excellent exhibitions, including the CIM Conference & Exhibition in Edmonton, Expomin in Santiago, Chile, and MINExpo in Las Vegas.

Trade shows can be one of the most cost-effective tools in a mining supplier’s marketing arsenal. However, too many companies approach a trade show without proper planning and training. They are also less successful in maximizing the numerous rich and unique selling opportunities when they become available.

Trade show success depends on how well you prepare, execute and follow-up. Here are a few tips:

Plan well in advance: Today’s mining trade shows are sold out well in advance. In some cities, hotels are in short supply.

Select the best exhibitions for your purposes: Often the reason for selecting a mining trade show is simple, it is the only event of its kind. Most of the world’s significant mining events are national and are repeated at two-year intervals. If available, use demographic information from previous events to learn more about the exhibition.

Set specific, measureable and attainable goals: Prepare a budget. Make sure that you are ready for opening day. Forecast the number of demonstrations, sales, prospects and follow-ups you expect to make. If you do not have a local representative and believe that one is necessary, make this a major goal for your first show in a target country. Arrange pre- and post-show meetings with potential business partners or clients.

Plan your booth design, signage and literature: Your booth should be a microcosm of your company. It should promote your brand and differentiate you from the competition. Project a clear message; avoid a cluttered booth with confusing messages.

Enhance your traffic flow: Location is important. Be either at the entrance or on a major aisle, rather than lost in a corner. At international events, Canada Pavilions are better than random locations because Canada’s reputation in mining is strong and these pavilions are well-located.

Prepare your staff for success: Decide on dress and deportment at the booth. Trade shows are different from sales calls. They require special techniques. Good will, common sense and sales experience simply are not enough on their own. Providing staff with training may be helpful.

Focus your efforts: The purpose of exhibiting is to: 1) make sales; 2) make appointments; 3) log inquiries; or 4) reinforce longer term relationships. While you should welcome existing clients, you can always meet with them at a later time. The key value of an exhibition stand is its use as a launching pad to project your company and its products and services towards new contacts, new customers and new markets.

Follow up: A mine of opportunities can be found at a trade show and many of the resulting business payoffs occur not at the event, but afterwards.

Remember that the momentum, enthusiasm and interest generated during the show will be dulled with time, and the client may even forget having met you. Thus, response time may be critical.

  • After each interview with a prospective client, make note of any required follow-up action.

  • Today, many trade show visitors prefer electronic delivery of literature. Investigate ways to send emails from the show floor.
  • In your planning, allow room in the schedule for post-exhibition follow-ups. Too often, trade show staff continue travelling or become involved in other post-show duties and it is weeks, if ever, before follow-ups are performed.
  • Write a report on the show and try to quantify the success in terms of number of contacts, quality of contacts and cost per contact.

Getting the most out of a trade show is not difficult if best practices are followed: plan ahead, work the show diligently and follow up.

Jon Baird, managing director of CAMESE and the immediate past-president of PDAC, is interested in collective approaches to enhancing the Canadian brand in the world of mining.

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