From The Editor | October 26, 2017

A Warning For Water And Wastewater Manufacturers Trying To Make An Impact At Tradeshows


By Travis Kennedy


For those of you who read my articles, you know that I often make the statement that time has replaced money as the most important resource in the business world.  Think about it -- most new products (regardless of industry) are centered on helping people save time first, and save money second.

I recently heard of a colleague who was in Las Vegas for a tradeshow. He went outside for a jog. There was a section of the street blocked off so he jogged to the other side of the street and then back over again.  In effect he pulled off the very rare double jaywalk (or the double jay-jog in this case). It so happened that a police officer was present and cited him for his lack of compliance with the directional flow of foot traffic.

Instead of handing him the hefty $50 fine however, the police officer gave him a choice. The perp could pay the $50 fine or he could stand at the corner and watch the “walk/don’t walk” sign cycle through 10 times and then continue on his day without further penalty.  He chose to pay the fine so that he wouldn’t have to waste an additional 25 minutes of a busy day.  I know what you’re thinking… WHAT?!?!?  Well, that’s the world we live in now.  Time is life, time is money.

So, as WEFTEC approached I started seeing those familiar notices on LinkedIn.  You know what status updates I’m talking about. The ones that read like this:

“Come see us at booth 1234”
“Visit us at booth 5678 at WEFTEC”
“Stop by booth 9101 to see our new product (insert cool new name of new pump, filter, etc.)”
“Visit booth 1234 to see how we treat wastewater”

As an attendee, my question is WHY?  Why should I take the time out of my day to come and see you?  Is this some kind of service you are providing me?  Are you offering me something valuable in return for my time?  Unequivocally the answer is “no.” In reality, with little information to back up the invitation, the attendee hears “Please come to our booth and let us pitch you something.” If you were offered that opportunity by say a cell phone provider, car dealership, etc. would you show up?  Of course not. There is nothing you would be receiving in exchange for your most precious resource, except of course a sales pitch (or the chance to win a free car perhaps).

As marketers, we need to do better than publish meaningless pre-show announcements. Your time is MUCH more valuable than that and shouldn’t be wasted.  Buyers can find out your booth number quite easily and will seek YOU out if you are (a) offering something of value in exchange for their time or (b) have already achieved a trusted relationship with them through your brand publishing efforts.

If you offer them an opportunity to share their thoughts on the industry, market, technology, etc. they may feel more like it’s a good use of their time.  If you explain how a visit to your booth will improve their life, work day or career, then you have earned the currency to pay for their time.  Think bigger. Think impact.

Image credit: "GEA Geothermal Expo 2013 - Opening Reception," ThinkGeoEnergy, 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: