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David FullerTradeshows are coming back, and while many people are looking at reconnecting with people within their industry, it’s often difficult to identify whether there’s value in going to a tradeshow.

Yes, there’s the relationship building, the new products and the parties. But have you ever wondered if it’s worth your while to show up in person?

In my days of going to trade shows, I too wondered, until that one show where I made up my mind to try to find a $50,000 idea that would help take my business to the next level.

At first, I had to make a conscious effort to find the idea, but later, because I was focused on getting value out of the tradeshow, I came across the ideas naturally.

Sometimes those ideas came from seminars and experts. Other times they came from talking to people in the industry – people who did things differently and better than I did. Occasionally, it was a product or service that I added to the business. However, each time I felt accountable for delivering on my quest for $50,000.

Some of the ideas that made a difference in getting my $50,000 worth included putting into practice “Stack ’em High and Watch ’em Fly” case stacks for our retail division, the 29,49,79,99-step pricing strategy, margin approaches that I learned from other business people. One year, it was a customer service idea – getting more shopping carts and bigger baskets, thanks to a retailer using this idea with great success.

I’ve also used management strategies I learned. And sometimes, it was just a new product I added to hit my target.

At one tradeshow, my take-away was if I want to make $50,000 a year more in sales, I need to increase my sales by $140 a day. With roughly 300 customers a day coming in my door, I only need to get each one to buy 50 cents more. Maybe only 10 percent will buy more so I need one in 10 to buy a $5 item extra.

So what will that be?

If you have a retail business, you might want to focus on impulse buying. Consider how you might get your customers to buy more by providing them with opportunities to purchase things from you that they might buy elsewhere. We often see this in hardware stores, where they’ve added cleaning supplies or snacks near the tills. Products that you traditionally bought elsewhere are now stacked high by the till in case you need them.

More advice on running your business

Tradeshows can be fun. They can also be a valuable source of growth ideas for your business. The key to success at tradeshows is to have a plan.

Make a list of what you need to accomplish at the tradeshow and who you need to talk to. What are you searching for? What does your team need to do aside from you? What seminars do you want to take in?

Tradeshows can also be a great place to negotiate better deals, making purchases that will benefit your bottom line and re-energize you in running your business.

If you’re going to a tradeshow, you should be curious about what your $50,000 idea will be this year. Where will your $140 a day come from?

Having a goal will give you new energy at the tradeshow and keep you on track to make the event valuable.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc. For interview requests, click here.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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