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Saturday, December 16, 2006


Question: Kathrin Hoesli askes, Products vs. services- How do a company's goods and services influence it's trade show appearance? Can you provide some information concerning the difference of service and product presentation and how this influences appearance at trade shows?

Answer: When presenting at a tradeshow, there are a number of factors to consider. The first, and most important factor is, "How important is this tradeshow to your overall marketing strategy?".

If this is a key show, where many of your buying audience will be in attendance, then you must consider how much of your budget will be allocated to an overall show presense.

For example, many vendors of products or services will take advantage of sponsorship opportunities that include a large booth space (10 X 20 or 20 X 20 island), large overhead banners, advertisements in the tradeshow guidebook, inserts in conference bags, sponsorship of badges or conference bags, receptions, etc. The purpose of sponsorship is to draw attention to your brand, product, and/or service.

Once you have decided the level of spend you are committed to, it is time to focus on your booth set up and presentation. For companies who are showcasing products, a number of opportunities exist for informing prospects of your product, product benefits, and how to order. Additionally, companies often focus on meeting with customers to renew existing sales or to receive feedback.

When presenting a product at a tradeshow, most vendors will have the product or products on display. One of the most productive ways to showcase your product is in a theater style setting where a speaker provides a demonstration of your product at intervals throughout the day.

These presentations are often accompanied by product collateral and ordering instructions.
Booth staff is available to answer any questions regarding the product. Sales staff should be equipped with product knowledge and an understanding of key benefits. Many product vendors will have some way to sell the actual product at the booth (take orders) as well as gather leads to be followed up with after the show.

When offering a service, companies may take a slightly different approach to marketing at tradeshows. Even if a service business decides to take advantage of sponsorship opportunities, they do not often have a physical product to show or demonstrate. As a result, they often benefit by communicating a service explanation through signage, power point displays, and knowledgeable sales people.

Due to the lack of a physical product, many service businesses will generate a pre-show mailer to inform and attract prospects or customers to their booth. Additionally, service businesses - as well as those selling products - will often provide a raffle or free giveaway for their product or service.

Collateral offered at the show will generally provide more information about previous work completed and the customers who have successful experience the service offered. This orientation is developed to generate interest and persuade a prospect to move through the purchase decision process.

After tradeshows, effective organizations rate the warmth of a prospect and follow up accordingly. A business that offers a service may require an additional conversation with the prospect to secure a purchase.

These are some of the fundamental differences between product and service orientations at tradeshows and events.

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