BHR Global Associates, Inc. is dedicated to helping companies bring their products to market successfully. We can help with finalization your design, to helping find the right source at the right price, help you maintain a solid on going supply chain and help you sell the product through our team of sales professionals. Our blog will supply information and details on successes, failures, and road blocks to avoid in bringing products to their full potential.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Why Trade Shows Are Important

Any new business is good business for most firms. Many companies are relying on industry trade shows to find opportunities to grow their customer list, establish partnerships, learn ways to improve operations and establish themselves as industry thought leaders. How does a company maximize its return on investment when appearing at these shows? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Trade shows present a range of valuable opportunities for companies that participate, including meeting potential customers, finding new and better ways of doing business and building a more impressive reputation within an industry. But making a solid trade show appearance requires investing company resources, and given today’s uncertain economic climate, it may seem difficult to justify the expense. However, most businesses can see significant returns even from a modest trade show investment — if they have the right strategy. “One of the main benefits of appearing at a trade show over selling to individuals is that it’s just like running a retail store. People are coming in the door to talk to you,” Linda Bishop, founder of sales training and marketing consulting firm Thought Transformation, told IMT. “What you should be looking at is the value of a sale. You can look at it as the value of a single sale, or as the lifetime value of a client. If selling to one or two or three people will pay for a trade show, it’s a good place for you to be.” According to data from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 88 percent of the attendees at a trade show usually haven’t been seen by a member of your company’s sales staff in the past year, and 70 percent plan to buy one or more products. On average, 76 percent of attendees ask for quotes and 26 percent end up signing purchase orders. Seventy-two percent of visitors say the show itself influences their buying decisions. The positive impact of exhibiting at a trade show isn’t confined just to the event, as 87 percent of attendees will pass along some of the information they obtained at the show, and 64 percent will tell at least six other people about it. From a sales perspective, shows can also be highly cost-effective — it costs 22 percent less to contact a potential buyer at a show than through traditional field sales calls. Of course, the fact that trade shows offer a lot of chances for boosting business doesn’t guarantee success. To maximize the value of a trade show appearance, it’s important to find the events that are best-suited to promoting your firm and making an impact on the market. “Depending on the industry, trade shows can be an important lead generation or brand awareness channel. They do not generally have an immediate impact on profits (unless you consider the costs to participate), however, if the exhibit program is well planned, they can play a role in building a company’s reputation. That said, trade shows aren’t for every company…” Michelle Bruno, exhibition industry expert and principal of content marketing firm Bruno Group Signature Events, told IMT. A small business, in particular, should “look for shows where you aren’t just a small fish in a very large pond — smaller shows that might be more vertical or targeted to a very specific industry.” Once the right shows have been identified, your business needs to develop a comprehensive strategy and ensure your company is represented in the best possible light. “Trade shows are unlike other sales and marketing channels. They can be lucrative — it only takes a few good pieces of business to make them pay. But, they can also be expensive and very labor intensive,” Bruno added. “If you’re going to implement an exhibit marketing program, do your homework — research the show, learn how to exhibit well and measure your results. Exhibiting doesn’t have to be a ‘one and done’ proposition either. Use the opportunity to create content (photos, videos, blog posts) for social media channels, conduct market research and learn about your competition.” It’s crucial to view a trade show as a sales and branding opportunity. Remember that apart from booth rental fees, you’re also investing in travel, food, lodging, insurance, event setup, sales materials, exhibit production and pulling employees away from the office. That means your company needs to get as much value from the event as possible. Marketing M.O. offers the following tips for maximizing your trade show return-on-investment: Know why you’re there. Are you looking to win new customers, raise brand awareness, unveil a new product or service or seek potential partnerships? This simple question should determine who goes to the show, what your budget will be and what activities you should focus on while there. Define your goals. Set quantitative goals for your appearance — know how many clients you want to land and leads you need to generate so you can track your performance. Pick the right event. Look at a show’s demographics beforehand to ensure there will be enough attendees that match your criteria for meeting your goals. Set up a ranking system. A good way to make sure you follow up on the right leads is to rank them according to priority (i.e. Groups A, B, C) and determine what needs to be delivered to each group to win their business. Document your follow ups. Decide who’s going to follow up with which leads, what materials will be needed to make the sale and implement a way to manage and monitor the process. Discuss your decisions. Team members should get a chance to chance to weigh in on their role, event duties and follow-up responsibilities to ensure everyone understands and contributes to the process. Evaluate your results. Look over your tracked results and see if you’ve reached your goals to determine your ROI for the event, what went right versus what went wrong and how you will participate in future events. “You want more than just quantity, you want quality. So check your leads during the show to see if each booth staffer is writing complete leads,” according to Skyline Trade Show Tips. “Find a booth staffer who is just writing their name on the lead card? Take them aside and show them what’s missing: Lead quality level, comments about what the visitor’s main problems are and how your products solve them, and what the staffer promised the booth visitor they’d do next.” Although a smaller firm may not have the same level of resources to invest in a trade show appearance as a larger business, that doesn’t mean small companies can’t compete for the right attention at a show. “Be original. It’s not so much that you need to have the 20-by-40-foot booth. What you need is enough people skills to connect with people and have conversations,” Bishop added. “Telling people how you can help them is the most important thing you can do. Since they’ve already showed up at the show, there’s nothing wrong with approaching them about whether they’re interested in what you’re selling.”

Monday, September 03, 2012

Bringing New Products to Market

The introduction of new products is both a gamble and a challenge even for the most successful companies. This statement is borne out in the facts that 86% of new product ideas never get to market and 50%-70% of those that do fail. The products fail in my opinion because the people and companies bringing them to market do not have a plan, a structured process, or an understanding of what they are getting into. Since there are no guarantees the twelve-step program laid out in article will assist in this process and help especially new companies, and entrepreneurs in improving the rate of success and entry into the marketplace. Even though my background is in the retail arena and though this steps here are aimed at consumer products they can be applied to most companies selling a product or service.

The steps are:

1)      Understand the overall U.S. marketplace.

Use this step to do high level research to see if your product already exists in the marketplace or as a patented product. You can accomplish this in various ways from doing keyword searches, going to the US Patent Office website ( and by shopping retailers. Do not leave out a marketplace because you think your product does not fit because you never know who might think it was a good idea. As an example of this I was recently shown a product sample that was developed for cats and the person who developed it only needed to go to the local pet store to find it. So remember you must do research before you spend time and money on a product idea.

             2) Understand your market segment.

Once you have the broad overview of the marketplace and the various retailers the next step is to identify the area of the retail store your product would be displayed and the methods in which it is displayed. Also in this process you will look for competitors and potential partners for your product. In many cases the product maybe salable but a retailer will not take it on because it is a ONE PRODUCT LINE. I even had that highlighted recently when a call for ideas was sent out by a university and appointments were going to made with a major retailer, however, there was a disclaimer saying if you only had a one product line DO NOT APPLY. Also I have worked with an inventor of a product who figured this out and came to the company I was working for at the time to be his partner, we accepted and the product had a home in Wal-Mart and Lowe’s.

  3) Identify the latest in design and color trends.

Almost all products sold at the retail level have a need to be in line with the latest looks in both fashion and color. Organizations such as Pantone can help in understanding what are and will be the latest trends. There are fashion websites as well to show you the latest trends in fashion and other industries for your product idea.

  4) Identifying the target consumer

Based upon your research completed in steps one and two you now you need to decide which consumer you will attempt to reach and thereby which type of retail outlet you will be selling. As part of this step you can develop packaging ideas and concepts that will work with the product and the store you are looking to sell into. You will also need to understand the retail price point that makes sense for your product based upon where it fits in the retail environment. I recently met a gentlemen who developed two board games that were somewhat unique and different and potentially salable. However he decided on price points for his product that were twice the “acceptable” pricing for similar products also the packaging he developed was not in line with the retail price he was looking for and therefore the products did not sell.

  5) Develop your marketing story.

The next step requires the development of the strategy that will be used to the sell the product, and the story behind your branding process. The product can be marketed as the lowest priced, best quality, most features, etc. You need to develop a brand strategy that sets you apart from the competitors and will make a compelling story to the retail buyer. Remember the only FOCUS GROUP you have to please is the retail buyers doing a lot of market research and spending a lot of money with individuals and groups will only go so far. You would be better served to find sales professionals who serve the marketplace you want to be in and get their opinions on the product. Remember these people have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of products over the years and will give you an honest answer and help your story where they can.

6)      Tradeshows as a method of becoming known.

As a new entry into the marketplace a method of gaining exposure and building credibility for a new product or company is to participate in trade show either regionally or nationally. This is also a great place to develop a sales force. I recently worked a trade show for a company looking to go into the retail arena after years in a specialty market. Even though there were not a great many retailers present there were a great many manufacturers sales organizations and representatives present and they ended up with a national sales team that could take the product to various retail channels. They also gained a large number of international contacts for the product.

7)      Develop the specifications to having the product produced.

In order to have your product produced, and produced properly there must be complete specifications and drawings made available to potential vendors. This will include methods of packaging. Also when you get to this step you can decide to get the product patented and I would advise you find an excellent Patent Attorney to develop the patent. The process could be costly and unless at the end of the day you are willing to defend the patent rights you may want to consider moving ahead without a patent. You can as I understand take some initial steps to protect yourself through the Patent Office without a great deal of expense while you are proceeding with the sourcing process. Also insure that you have a NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT developed to protect yourself. This agreement should be signed by anyone who you discuss the idea with who potentially could take the idea and bring it to market by themselves. People who are in the Capital markets most likely will not sign this agreement however they are not looking to take products and run with them either.

8)      Find the source for your product.

Sourcing of your product either internationally or domestically or both must be accomplished carefully, and with the understanding of what you are seeking as a final cost for the product. If your product is patented or not, have a non-disclosure form available for potential vendors to sign.

9)      Understand the importing and purchasing of products.

There are a number of issues and costs that come with the importation of products into the US. There are ocean freight costs, duties, customs brokers fee, domestic freight costs, and others that will add to the total cost. Payment terms and alternatives must be understood as well.

10)  Determine your method(s) of distribution and setting them up.

Once you have determined where you are going to purchase your product then you have to determine the method of distributing the product. Established companies will use their present methods, however, new companies should look at third party logistics providers as an alternative to doing it themselves.

11)  Required information to make a sale.

In order to sell product to retail there are certain basics that a company and the products must have. These basics include establishing a UPC (uniform product code) vendor number for the company and an individual UPC number for each product the company wishes to sell.

Other specific details pertaining to the product will be needed as well.

12)  Make the sales presentation and the sale.

Now that you have established your marketing and selling story with the benefits of your product over the competitors, the method of how to produce and package your product, and the resources to produce and ship your product to the customers and the selling prices for the product. Then you are ready to put these pieces together and make presentations to potential customers.


Bruce Rubin

BHR Global Associates

Phone: 267-664-5165