Lisbiz Strategies: Why trade shows matter

March 31, 2017

March 27/April 3, 2017: Volume 31, Issue 21

By Lisbeth Calandrino


Coverings 2017 is right around the corner. There will be dozens of live demonstrations, over 70 free educational seminars and new products galore.

But how many people will actually show up? I make it a point to go every year, but I usually see the same people. I’ve found the ones who show up really want to stimulate their minds and gain advantages for their businesses. I know many people do product research at such events. You can do the same at Coverings 2017, but you can also have your sales reps keep you up to date without leaving town.

A recent experience I had illustrates the importance of attending industry conferences such as Coverings. On March 15, I spoke at an event in New Britan, Conn., for the Marble Institute of America. It was hosted by Surfaces, a wholesale fabricator of stone, quartz and solid surface countertops. The weather was frigid that night, and a blizzard had dumped 17 inches of snow in Albany, N.Y. I kept debating whether I should make the drive to the event. I figured I could live stream it through my blog. But I also really wondered who would show up?

The day before the event, I received a note from Mark Meriauz, accreditation and technical manager from MIA + BSI The Natural Stone Institute, telling me that about 44 people had signed up for my seminar on “The New Consumer.”

I was really surprised. I thought to myself, “Wow. I can’t believe we are going to have so many people—I have to go.”

I asked a couple of friends about going—most of them thought I was crazy. They said, “Why would you go out on the roads only to get stuck? Or even worse, have an accident?”

I kept thinking if the roads are plowed outside of Albany, why shouldn’t I go? I wasn’t scared; I was excited. I kept thinking if I don’t show up, I’ll miss meeting business owners who are interested in improving their business. Why wouldn’t I go if I could get there?

A note from Seth Godin inspired me to write this article because of his short and simple headline: “Why do people show up?” Here’s what he wrote:

“Some people show up when they need something. Some people show up before they need something, knowing that it will pay off later when they do need something. And some people merely show up. Not needing anything, not in anticipation of needing something, but merely because they can.”

So why did people show up to my seminar? One retailer said, “I came to get inspired. Hearing what others are doing inspires me to try something new. It’s great to learn what works; it saves trial and error.”

Another explained, “I want to network and get more answers and ideas after the meeting and exchange business cards and phone numbers.”

Many attendees wanted to learn more about using social media: How should it be used? How can they use it more effectively? What do businesses find successful on social media? They were willing to share with the rest of the group and also asked pointed questions.

Peer-to-peer sharing is invaluable. Where else will you have the chance to learn from others in your industry? Some may even be your competitors.

No matter what the industry, we are isolated from our peers unless we attend conferences. We all want to know what is working in our industry, and who knows better than others in the same business? So if you don’t want your competitors to get ahead of you, plan on attending Coverings.


Lisbeth CalandrinoLisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at





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