Monday, May 18th, 2009

Wall Street Journal: Experts Say Trade Shows are "One of the Smartest Things Small-Business Owners Can Do"

President's Post

It's a nice feeling when arguably the most well-known and respected business and financial newspaper in the world backs up a perspective you have been preaching to every open ear you can find.  As SPI staff and I come down the home stretch of preparing for NPE2009, I was quite pleased to read a Wall Street Journal article last week that examined trade shows in a down economy and concluded that participating in them is still one of the most valuable things a small business can do:

For small-business owners trying to navigate the economic downturn, spending money on trade and consumer shows might seem like a luxury better reserved for more prosperous times. Not so, say many experts, who believe that exhibiting at—or at the very least attending—these events is one of the smartest things that a small-business owner can do, regardless of the state of the economy. Not only do exhibitions provide critical exposure to potential buyers, they also are essential for learning about unfamiliar markets, building personal relationships and getting an up-close look at the competition.

Words that are music to my ears! I recommend small business owners, in particular, read the article  because it contains some very useful, practical tips on how to minimize exhibit costs and, if not exhibiting, how to maximize you company's presence as an attendee.

Of course, so many of you knew the score without needing to read the WSJ article.  I'm pleased to report that, despite worldwide economic trouble, NPE2009 will surpass NPE2006 in size and scope. As of last week, exhibiting companies had contracted for 16% more booths than by the same date in 2006, and sales of exhibit space in the five weeks preceding May 8 were greater than in the same period in 2006. In terms of attendees, NPE history shows that 80% of all visitors register beginning May 1, and indeed, NPE2009 registrations have begun to spike right on schedule.

As one expert in the WSJ article said, trade shows will always be one of the most valuable things you can do because “there’s simply a consolidation of buyers in one place. They have money to spend and buying authority to exercise.”  I couldn't agree more.


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