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Marketing in the 90"s

by Ramona Frey
as excerpted from the CRAFTLINK Newsletter

Know you need to advertise but don't know how or where to start? Newspaper? Radio? Direct mail? Television? Know you need to advertise but can't afford to?

Learn what successful businesses in the 90's are doing -- CONSUMER SHOWS! The days where you would "broadcast" your advertising are gone! The 90's is the decade of specialization. If you have a product or a service there is a trade show available. Sewing shows, woodworking, craft & hobby, small business, computer shows -- the list is as endless as there are products.

Today, the smart business goes directly to the consumer, it is more effective and cost efficient. Consumer shows bring the customers to you so that you can present your products to interested buyers. Specialized consumer shows are the hottest way to advertise your product and business.

Trade shows and mall shows are the marketing tool of the 90's. They provide an excellent opportunity for home based business owner to display or sell their products and services, meet their targeted customers face to face, and obtain leads for future business.

The following tips can help you to make the most of your trade show investment:

1. When choosing a trade show or mall show, look for the one that your best prospects are most likely to attend. For example, people attending home shows are looking for products and services to improve and enhance their homes, they're not there to look at jewelry, clothing or business products.

2. Send invitations to customers and qualified prospects. Include a call-to-action and an offer. For example "bring this invitation to the booth and receive a free T-shirt." This will increase the number of people visiting your booth.

3. If you plan to sell products at your booth, plan quantities, pricing, packaging, credit card, signage and equipment, and how to ship to and from the show.

4. If you are planning a draw, an item directly related to your product or service will help qualify leads. Many people who have no desire for your product or service will enter a draw for a trip, but will only enter your draw if they are interested in your business if the product relates to your business.

5. Keep your objectives in mind when planning the size of your booth. How much room do you need to display equipment, products and literature? Remember to leave room for sales staff and customers.

6. Carry plenty of business cards. Advertising specialty items can be handed out to qualified leads to serve as a reminder of your company.

7. Do not allow your staff to smoke, chat or socialize in the booth, and make sure that your booth is never left empty. Schedule breaks if necessary so that someone is always staffing the booth.

8. Build your mailing list by collecting business cards from booth visitors. Have a sign-up sheet for those who don't have a card.

9. After the show, go through business cards obtained at the show and split them into "hot" leads and "warm" leads. Send a follow-up letter to the hot leads immediately, reminding them of your conversations and sending them more information on your business. A follow-up call may be appropriate in some cases.

Trade show and mall shows can be an inexpensive way to put your product in front of more prospects in a short period of time than any other way of selling. Success will be yours if you have competent people staff your booth, good literature to hand out to prospects, and quick follow-up after the show.

Ramona Frey is founder and past president of the North Okanagan Home-Based Business Association in British Columbia.

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