We all rely on our trade show partners/suppliers, and the approach to this critical relationship needs to be part of your strategy. Most every company - regardless of if your company is product-centric or service-oriented - can’t function without solid partners/suppliers. Some organizations seem to get this relationship a bit backwards. The misconception is this… because they sign off on a project, they're in the dominant position and can leverage the relationship with unreasonable demands of all shape and form.
We need to make sure we get this right-- we need good and reliable suppliers. When you discover them, make sure to nurture them. Put some good effort into working hard on building a good partner/supplier relationship - just as you do building a relationship with your clients.
Adopting a strategic approach with both key suppliers and smaller vendors can lead to remarkable benefits that are evidenced in many ways. Following is a sampling of just a few of them.
1. Control Cost
If you looked at the numbers, you’d probably realize that your organization actually spends more with partners/suppliers at trade shows than most other marketing expenses. When your spend in any category is that significant, you need to be working to get a better return and reducing the amount of spend annually. Your partner can help accomplish this. Having great relationships with all of your partners/suppliers can save your company money. You might be able to take advantage of their knowledge of the industry to reduce your spend, and find attractive deals, incentives, and discounts for early decisions. Cost control can give you an edge over your competition and drive profitability. In addition, the more well run your relationships are, the less chance that you’ll have to spend money on the unexpected show costs that come with delays and mistakes in fabrication or show floor expenses. Look to your partner/supplier to help you reduce the amount of weight of your materials, which in turn can drive your transportation and drayage costs down.
2. Creative Advantage
Creativity doesn’t just happen. When you do get great creativity, it sets you apart from your competitors on the show floor in so many ways. Every company has to work hard (and consistently) to make creativity happen. Your partner can dedicate consistent time and hard work to solve your event problems. Partners will help bring your vision and strategy to life in a creative way you may not have thought of previously. Creative companies create on a schedule because they understand the profound power of consistency and how this will help deliver the right solution. This consistent time dedication is not always available inside your own company and there may not be the right team members to execute it. This is where your partner comes in… they know that their cumulative output matters more than any individual piece of work.
3. Improved Efficiency
Effective partners/suppliers can improve efficiencies, which is critical in the “right now” pace of business and the competitive marketplace – particularly trade shows. With show management and the right software, you can eliminate much of the unproductive administrative effort needed to manage shows, reduce the risk of mistakes, improve control, increase communication, allow for categorization, ensure tasks are performed in a consistent manner, diffuse issues promptly, and increase visibility that allows you to focus on the 100 other tasks you have for your events. The higher your organizational efficiency, the better you can run your marketing—it’s that simple.
4. Long-Term Loyalty
Great partners/suppliers are hard to find and It just is not easy to find good ones. Once your process is relatively smooth, the last thing you want is to lose them and have to source new suppliers who might not be as easy to work with, as creative, as cost-effective, or as efficient. By properly managing and strengthening your relationships with partners/suppliers that you want to keep on a long-term basis, you can keep them happy and on board. Your suppliers play a major role in your business, whether you realize it or not, and it’s critical that you do what you can to keep the good ones around. Think of them as more than just companies that deliver goods or services—think of them as advocates that can influence your success.
5. Increasing Value:
The ultimate goal of trade show and event relationships is to receive the best value for your dollar from partners/suppliers. Through structured, strong relationships, that’s exactly what you will get. The intelligence you will receive through show management in particular will allow you to gain insights that will allow you to make the best decisions that will provide the greatest value. You will get greater visibility into supplier performance, including risks, behavioral patterns, and service levels, so you can see potential issues before they arise in order to promptly rectify them. You’ll also be able to see new mutually beneficial opportunities as they show themselves.
6. The Right Giveaway: Let’s face it: we all love a giveaway! It hardly matters what’s being given away, but we want it! For this reason, you need to be strategic with your giveaways. They are worthwhile – no doubt about it. They draw the MOST people to your booth. They help people remember your business after the show has closed up. However, you want to be drawing the RIGHT people to your booth – the ones who need what you’re offering and the ones who are ready for it. Avoid casting too wide a net during a giveaway. Tailor the giveaway to fit your target market and appeal to their needs. If your appeal is too broad, you’re going to be sifting through scores of names that are not potentials for you.
Developing good relationships with suppliers is not a complicated process. Be communicative, tell them of your needs and standards, treat them fairly, be demanding, be loyal, and pay them on time. It's that easy.