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Trade Show Know-How: Tips on Working Frankfurt, Regionals, and Incentive Industry Events

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Five Tips for First-timers at

by Sebastian Koehler


The Frankfurt International
Book Fair, which this year runs from October 4 to 8, is clearly the biggest and
the most prestigious annual professional event in the global book industry.
Filling nine multilevel exhibition halls with more than 7,000 exhibitors from
101 countries, it can induce a serious case of information overload in
first-time visitors and exhibitors.


You may want to attend the market
briefing on the fair and the German publishing market held the day before the
show starts (contact Joyce Aravena at <span
for more
information). My best advice about developing a focus for Frankfurt and
preventing the stress connected with the distractions of the show is set out in
this five-step plan of action.


Consider your exhibition options.

You need to determine how you want to represent your company if you are
planning to go to the Frankfurt Book Fair instead of having an organization
such as PMA represent your books. A completely furnished booth is the easiest
but also the most expensive option. Small publishers as well as literary agents
and booksellers often choose to do business from one of the professional
centers at the book fair or to share booths. Sharing requires registering as a
subexhibitor and paying a euro 159 fee, but it still turns out to be
considerably less expensive than having a booth of your own, and it does get
your company entered in the show catalog.


2. Be
where you want to be.
Perhaps you
have heard about the cost and scarcity of hotel space during the Frankfurt Book
Fair. Traffic is dense and taxis are hard to get when the fair opens and
closes. To position yourself in a part of Frankfurt that allows you to reach
the fairgrounds easily and enjoy the city, use your travel agent or Web travel
sites early. The later you start, the more likely it is that you’ll need
assistance from the Frankfurt Tourism Office (<span
), which has
listings of hotels and of 4,000 reasonably priced private rooms for convention
and conference visitors.


Schedule meetings early.
appointments now if you haven’t already made them. The schedules of key people
are often jammed with 15- and 30-minute meetings from 9 am to 6 pm.


You may want to book time with
existing international customers before you move on to develop business with
new accounts. The “Frankfurt Book Fair Catalog” and the “Frankfurt Who’s Who”
directory—both available at <span
—are excellent
informational tools that provide names and contact information for key people
around the world, along with detailed descriptions of the business activities
of each exhibiting company.


Your goal is to network, network,
and then continue to expand your network. This process is tedious, but


Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

With 16,000 names and 5,200 Web sites on <span
, you’ll
need a filter to pick the contacts that will help you grow your rights sales
and export business. Sources of valuable advice include PMA, colleagues who
have visited or exhibited at the show, and my employer, the U.S. Commercial
Service, which has been developing a network of contacts at the Frankfurt Book
Fair since the 1980s.


Communicate quickly.
So you have
made and confirmed appointments, and you have also educated yourself about the
fair and the people you are scheduled to meet with there. Do not expect your
meetings to be Q&A sessions about your books. With the average appointment
lasting 15 or 30 minutes, you will have just enough time to present your
potential business partners with information that is highly relevant to their
concerns. Less is more during the fair. Your follow-up efforts, which should
start one week after the fair ends, can provide in-depth information on the
titles that sparked interest during meetings.


Sebastian Koehler, senior
commercial specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce/U.S. Commercial Service,
coordinates activities in the biotechnology and the book-industry sectors on a
national level. He has worked with U.S. publishers at the Frankfurt
International Book Fair since 1999. For more information about U.S. Department
of Commerce services and fees, email <a
or visit www.buyusa.gov/germany/en.


Regionals: Research and Rewards

by Cynthia Frank


Summer is a good time to
begin planning for the fall regional trade shows by setting goals for each day
of a show and learning techniques for networking and efficient follow-up.


Start by getting each show’s
catalog and marking it up. Imagine that you’ll be going to a mammoth
supermarket, and you’ll need to have everything in the car in 25 minutes. Plan
to hit every aisle, in order, and to make more than one pass through the hall
(maybe in a different order on the second and third times through).


For large shows, consider creating
a preliminary cheat-sheet that lists booths both alphabetically and


When You’re There


Don’t hide your badge!


Put a supply of your business
cards behind your nametag.


Add a shorty pencil so you can
write a note on every business card you put in your pocket and know what to do
with it when you get home.


As you walk up and down the
aisles, think of your main goals as research and relationships.


Research can identify appropriate
new vendors and suppliers. Browse their booths first to get a feel for who they
are and what they do. Then pinpoint the best person at each booth to speak
with, and make sure this is a good time for them. Be aware of what else is
going on in the booth, particularly if they’re short-staffed, a potential buyer
is there, and you’re merely prospecting for information and contacts.


Research can also help you spot,
and later profit from, cover design and packaging trends. If you see something
you like, find out who printed it; who bound it; who designed it.


And take notes on offers and
specials that you might want to use in the future. Also note which giveaways
work and which are just junk.


Forging and strengthening
relationships can strengthen marketing and promotion efforts.


Look at every booth with an eye to
how that company might help you get the word out about your books, or help you
increase the books’ sales. And consider using the opportunity for problem
solving with existing vendors and suppliers: Does someone on the show floor owe
you money? Have they been ignoring your finance charges and phone calls?
Quietly take your contact or another staff member aside and request a payment
schedule. This is not the time for a scene, but you’ll definitely get their


When It’s Over


Follow-up activities will be most
effective if you initiate them within two weeks of the show dates. Postcards
and personal notes make a good impression.


And of course you’ll want to make
lists of ideas and goals for the shows you’ll be going to next. Think about
making pre-show appointments, doing pre-show and/or post-show mailings. And
look hard at those notes you made about things that will make your booth better
next time.


Cynthia Frank is president
of QED Press, Cypress House, and Lost Coast Press. Recently named one of Ten
Outstanding Women in Independent Publishing by <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Independent Publisher
, she has 20 years
of experience in writing, publishing, editing, and teaching.


Book Fair Basics


Bring bottled water or juice.

Bring an office-supply box with
tape, pens, pencils, scissors, packing tape and labels, marking pens, curtain
hooks, and double-sided tape.

Also bring postcards so you can
mail thank-you notes while you’re still at the show. Emailed thank-you notes
are OK, but since lots of folks send those, you’ll stand out more with a
handwritten thank-you.

Find out where the nearest copy
shop is (and what its hours are).

Take notes as you’re sitting in
your own booth: what would make it work better?

Change your shoes, take your
breath mints, smile!

Talk to people—draw them
out. Listen; don’t lecture! Smile.

Be flexible, take breaks, smile.


What Incentive Shows Can Do for

by Jeffrey Dobkin


I love trade shows. Some of
the best trade shows for publishers are in the incentive industry, also called
the rewards and motivation industry. These shows cross all industry boundaries,
as they feature a wide variety of manufacturers offering their products as
business gifts to reward salespeople, dealers, distributors, and customers.


Take the popular Motivation Show
held every fall, for instance. The next one will happen September 26–28,
2006, at McCormick Place in Chicago (<span
). With more than
2,100 exhibitors and over 267,640 square feet of exhibit space, this show is
huge. I love walking it.


Or consider the Incentive Show (<span
held every spring at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York, with more
than 200 booths. In 2007 it will be on May 1 and 2. You can sign up for free at
the Web site until April 5; after that there’s a $30 registration fee, but each
exhibitor usually gets tons of free passes, so you can probably wangle one by
calling companies on the exhibitor list.


Sure, you can go to an electronics
show and see TVs and stereos. You can go to an auto show and see the newest
cars. You can go the adult show and see— well, if your spouse doesn’t
catch you, you can see most anything. But the motivational and incentive shows
have thousands of products, from TVs, to automobiles, to books, to camping
equipment, to cheap imprinted items (er . . . promotional products), to
expensive pens, to luggage, to clocks to . . . well, you name it. Hey, wait a
minute. Did I say books? Yes.


Do you think your books would make
great premiums? My God, you’re probably right. Lots of companies use books as
premiums, and lots of companies that sell premiums would be willing to look at
your book to see if it fits their clients’ needs. Private-label sales will
increase your press runs and pay for a good portion of your own title.


The incentive shows let you
identify likely prospects, examine their other product lines, and speak with
key people. Bring a smile, a sample copy, and a pocket full of business cards.
Take names and numbers to send sample copies to.


And while we’re talking about
selling books, how about offering your books for sale through the
premium-industry distributors? At the incentive shows, find reps and
distributors that handle books. This is easy, because you’ll see books being
shown at their booths. Or at least similar products.


Anywhere you see a good fit, start
asking questions and making suggestions. If your books are about small
business, ask if the distributor or rep firm you are speaking with sells to
banks that might be interested in offering copies to small-business customers.
If your books are about cars, ask rep houses if they have contacts with car
dealers or any of the mid-players in the car industry. If you offer cookbooks,
ask food service companies about wholesalers that might offer your books or
restaurants that would like their own private-brand cookbooks. If your books
are about transporting illegal aliens, ask at the U.S. Border Patrol . . . No,
wait; that’s another article.


Premium sales take a long time,
but there are no returns, and the price is always negotiable, so if you’re good
you can get close to list price. Buyers actually seem to care about you and about
your title and may design a whole promotion around it. Test that scenario
against selling to Borders.


Motivating with Major


Here’s how the incentives industry


On the upscale end, say you have
100 sales reps on the road, and you want them to sell, sell, sell, more, more,
more. Or you have dozens of bookstore accounts that could be doing more, more,
more to move your titles. What do you do? You offer them an incentive. You say,
“The first 10 people who make this quota next month get a flat-screen TV.”
Everyone will gripe about how it ain’t possible: the goal is too high, the
market is down. But the few at the top will get the message and go to work.


Here’s where the show comes in:
you don’t buy these 10 TVs from a retailer; you go directly to the
manufacturer’s premium-division booth at the show. Tell them you’d like to
offer TVs to your top 100 salespeople as an incentive, and their
premium-division guys—with their eyes wide open—will quote you an
amazingly low wholesale price. You tell them, Nah, it’s too much money. Then,
knowing what their bottom line is on these TVs, you tell them you’ll buy 10 at
that price. They’ll reluctantly agree. Then they’ll go into the back room and
celebrate. Hey, a sale is a sale.


Among other things, this is a nice
way for them to skirt their retail accounts without making those customers mad.
Sales through their premium division don’t get them in trouble with retailers
for selling directly at a discounted price.


Less-Expensive Incentives


The ASI shows (Advertising
Specialty Institute, www.ASIShow.com)
are held at various locations throughout the year. At shows, you can pick up
thousands of lower-cost privately labeled incentives (pens, key chains, etc.).
We call them “gifts for the kids and for the office staff” (who seem to like
the same stuff as the kids and are generally more thankful for being remembered
. . . although usually more miffed that you didn’t take them to the show).


If you register now, you’ll be
very early for a similar show run by Promotional Products Association
International (www.PPA.org).
To be held January 3–6, 2007, in Las Vegas, the biggest of the annual PPA
shows has more than 1,600 suppliers with more than 3,700 booths, and lots of


Learning More About
Incentives Opportunities


Whether or not you get to
incentive shows, you can benefit from reading the industry’s magazines.


the oldest of them, is digest size, glossy, thick, and perfect bound. It
contains a range of ads about everything from tiny personalized items to
companies that will come in and set up a whole incentive program for you for
free just to get the merchandise orders.


Another glossy magazine, <span
is tabloid-sized and strictly product oriented. It’s a fast read, and fun if
you like press releases and product shots.


Also check out <span

magazine (www.promomagazine.com).Promo
has its own show at the Chicago Navy Pier from October 10–12, 2006.


Jeffrey Dobkin is the
author of two books on direct marketing, and one on humor. He presents
motivational speeches on effective direct-marketing methods, acquiring maximum
sales leads, and innovation; and he also writes presentations to client’s
specifications. To learn more, visit www.dobkin.com or call him; 610/642-1000
rings on his desk.



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