Trade Show Marketing – The Keys to Success in 2010

08 Feb 2010

Jim Debetta

Jim DeBetta’s product development and sales experience has amassed millions of dollars within the retail selling world. Known nationally as a trusted coach and mentor to thousands of inventors and entrepreneurs, he knows how to take new ideas from a sketch on a napkin to selling the final product to major retailers worldwide.

Jim’s career in retail began at an early age with the family business – a fireplace and home hardware company. After graduating from college, Jim went home to help expand the business from a small successful operation into a multi-million dollar business and became one of the most recognized and respected store of its kind on Long Island. Jim stimulated new business, purchased products from all over the world, and ran the overall daily operations.

Jim decided it was time to grow and joined a start up firm that imported binoculars, telescopes, and optical products for children. His retail customers included a “who’s who” in retail such as Target, Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, Sears, Michael’s, Cabelas, Home Shopping Network, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Discovery Channel Stores, Costco, and many others. Jim employed nearly 20 people inside and had dozens of sales reps all over the US, Canada, and Europe. Ultimately, Jim helped expand the company from virtually no significant revenue to a leading brand in the industry that has sold more than 50 million dollars of product since the mid 1990′s. When Jim was ready for a new adventure, he left the company as President and Chief Operating Officer.

Jim decided he was ready for yet a bigger challenge and joined a leading premium incentive company as their National Key Accounts Manager. Jim represented major national brands for this $100 million a year premium incentive firm such as Toshiba, Sony, Nikon, Nautilus, Movado and others. The products were used to create various incentive programs for fortune 1,000 companies around the world.

Jim’s experience has reached far and wide working with various products, retailers, manufactures, and factories. He knew it was time to help those that had a product in mind or ready for production. His goal was to teach others the process without unnecessary expense, time and red tape. That is how DeCavi Corp was born.

As the founder of DeCavi Corp, Jim has helped thousands of inventors and start-ups learn how to get their products developed and sold to major retailers. Jim then merged his firm with the renowned Slingshot Product Development Group which employs a team of 35 engineers, designers, and marketing experts who help individual inventors and Fortune 500 firms alike. Both are recognized as leaders in the inventor product development and commercialization arena. Today, Jim continues to broaden his reach into the world of consumer products and has formed DeBetta Enterprises which is a private consultancy that coaches and advises inventors and entrepreneurs on everything from manufacturing to sales and marketing of consumer products. Jim also heads up the Retail Distribution arm of Kevin Harrington’s TV Goods corporation which today is fueled by the hit ABC reality show Shark Tank.

""Jim teaches inventors how to create sales and marketing strategies, understand the world of licensing, develop a product using CAD design, raising money to fund a business, and locating factories overseas to produce products. Jim is now reaching out to individuals who want to learn how to do it for themselves. Learn how he does that by clicking here.

Jim is a Professional Member of the United Inventors Association, a member of the Georgia Inventor’s Association, Rocky Mountain Inventors Association, and was the former co-host of the Launch Hour – a popular radio program for inventors and entrepreneurs. He is also the author of The Business of Inventing and has written hundreds of articles for industry publications, newspapers, and websites such as Inventor’s Digest, Georgia Magazine, and Entrepreneur Magazine. Jim also appears as a guest speaker for leading trade and consumer organizations, speaks at international conferences, and hosts forum and blog discussions on prominent invention and entrepreneurial websites.

Here we are, 2010, and trade shows are still a very popular way for new and established companies to reach retail buyers. Where else can you get in front of so many buyers looking to source new products for their stores? Not many other places.

But with the economy taking its toll on small company budgets, how can you get the most bang for the buck out of your trade show marketing? The answer is to make the most of your time and money when planning to attend these shows.    

Last year, I attending a handful of large consumer product trade shows including the House Wares Show in Chicago and the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas. Both traditionally are very crowded and even booking hotel rooms can be tough and of course quite pricey due to high demand. This past year, these shows, while still busy, were just not that crowded and that can be a source of concern when you are planning to spend your marketing dollars. The retail buyers seemed to be there, but knowing that budget constraints prevent even retail executives from jumping on a plan means that there are fewer of them walking the floor. That means that you must do whatever you can to maximize your trade show experience and be fully prepared to do business!

Here are some smart ways to make the most of your time and money at trade shows in 2010:

  • If you are an inventor or small startup, consider sharing a booth space with someone in the same situation. Sharing a booth can save you hundreds if not thousands!
  • Try seeking out others you may know in your industry and share a hotel room. May sound a little awkward, but if you know someone that you feel comfortable with then why not halve your hotel costs and share the room.
  • Don’t overspend on giveaways. You know what I mean. The pens or coffee mugs you get made up with your company logo. These can cost hundreds of dollars…and you have to ship them to the show. Skip these and instead have bottled water and some cookies or something at the booth. I know I love a good chocolate chip cookie when I am trolling the trade show floor!
  • Take the red eye to and from the show. I know, who wants to fly in at 2am, but hey, if you don’t have to arrive at a specific time you can save some money.
  • Utilize the shuttle bus services. Most trade shows offer shuttle buses to and from the local hotels. Take advantage of them. Renting a car can be expensive, and if the show is in a big city then you probably won’t need the car for anything else while you are there. Take an airport-to-hotel shuttle when you arrive and save your self the time and expense.
  • Don’t order a lead retrieval machine. These machines, which look like a credit card machine you see in stores when you shop, can cost a few hundred dollars to rent. They are convenient as a buyer can simply swipe their badge on the machine when they visit your booth and you have a record of their information. However, asking for their business card is the same thing and does not cost a cent.

There are many ways to save money and collectively they can really add up. In the end, buyers are looking to do business with those that offer a great product with clear benefits for their customers. Dressing well, being at your booth on time, and saying hello to everyone that walks by will ensure that you have the best shot at having a productive show.

I often tell people who are planning to go to shows to limit the amount of shows they plan to attend. For example, my company used to exhibit at nearly ten shows a year. By choosing just the largest of these shows, you can exhibit at just a few and save a bundle! Making the most of a show is not about how many you do, but rather how well you prepare and present your product and company when you are there.

Here’s to a productive year of trade show marketing!!