“Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face,” was a phrase I heard my grandmother say from time to time. It’s not used too often these days but it literally means, don’t go ahead with an action that could make things worse for you farther down the road. This is especially true if the action is done as a quick reaction, out of anger or not thought through.
I wanted to say this to a long-time customer the other day. In 2015, they plan on pulling out of three of the major shows they do annually because, “the CFO doesn’t like the fact that material handling costs are as high as they are and are not something that can be predicted and budgeted for,” (sic).
Agreed. Rising material handling costs at trade shows have become an issue. Industry social media is buzzing with complaints of special handling, overtime charges and policies that make budgeting nearly impossible.
So the question is, how will companies like this be reaching out to customers and prospects, if not at trade shows?
According to the Center for Exhibit Industry Research (CEIR), 81% of attendees at trade shows have buying power and 91% attend to see what is new. So at the end of the day, is the exhibitor cutting off their nose to spite their face? Will competition swoop in? Are they losing out on establishing new relationships and keeping existing ones intact?
So how can you keep material handling costs under wraps?
The first step is to contact show management and voice your displeasure. Material handling costs have increased by almost 500% since 1982, far outpacing the cost of inflation.
Let them know that this line item is forcing your company to rethink show participation, and use your marketing dollars elsewhere. If enough voices in the wilderness are heard, maybe associations and general contractors will realize they are killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Two other recommendations are to:
1) Plan ahead and make sure you’re following the rules and regulations listed in the exhibitor service manual. Try to consolidate and send shipments from one source.
2) Use lighter-weight exhibit materials such as aluminum and fabric graphics.
Number 2 is especially important. With the newer properties and processes available, you can lower your freight weight considerably. Sit down with your exhibit vendor/partner professional and compare current properties with lighter-weight options. We did this with a few of our customers and were able to find significant savings in weight. This reduced weight lowered freight and material handling costs, without sacrificing impact at the event.
Keeping costs down is obviously very important for any kind of business. Those who can deliver a product to market at a lower cost have a distinct economic advantage. It has been proven that a lead generated at a trade show, because it involves one-to-one interaction, can accelerate the sales process by 2-3 months, depending on the product or service. If time is truly money (ask any CFO), that one statistic speaks volumes.
I think we can all agree that sales fuels the engine of any company. If you don’t feed the engine, it will stall, sputter and stop working. Don’t completely stop driving because the cost of fuel at the pump has gone up. Its just time to be bit more proactive and creative with your approach.
If anything, you’ll make your grandmother proud!