Tradeshow Return on Investment

by Dianna Brodine, Plastics Business

It can be difficult to know the ROI of attending a conference or tradeshow. Do you measure it in potential customers? Knowledge gained? Ideas that can be applied upon the return to work? How do you balance the costs of attendance – registration fees, travel expenses, time away from the office – with rewards that are not easily measured?

This month, I travel to Chicago for PLASTEC/MD&M Midwest and in October, I’ll trek to Indianapolis for MAPP’s Annual Benchmarking Conference. In Chicago, I’ll be able to focus on the suppliers to the industry, viewing new technology developments and talking with them about potential articles in both Plastics Business and Plastics Decorating magazines. In Indianapolis, I’ll get to hear from the readers – the processors themselves – about the issues they’re dealing with inside the plant, what concerns continue to plague the industry and the solutions that have been rising to the surface.

The perspectives I receive from both of these groups are invaluable in my job, and you have the same opportunity to further your industry connections with both suppliers and other processors. Networking long has been one of those buzzwords that seem like typical marketing bull, but the old saying is, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” The chance to renew past acquaintances, make new connections and size up the competition can be a tactical advantage when a marketplace changes quickly or economic conditions threaten the status quo.

Don’t overlook the suppliers either. Sure, they want to talk to you – you’re a potential sale, right? But you also should want to talk to them. These suppliers are in and out of facilities all across the country. Who better to provide perspective on what technologies others are implementing or share trends in resins used, market orders or inventory levels? Suppliers can share overviews of what they see without violating client trust, and I’ve found that their industry perspectives are sharp and on track.

Attending a conference or tradeshow gives you the chance to see your facility as part of a larger industry. You’ll receive benchmarks, whether through a formal study like that presented to processors at the MAPP conference or through casual conversations with manufacturing peers during session breaks. You’ll hear speakers on topics that have direct relevancy to your daily operations. And you’ll touch base with suppliers that have more to offer than the latest in equipment, software or resin.

I’ll come home from both Chicago and Indianapolis with fresh ideas, new content and a renewed excitement about the plastics industry. Don’t miss your chance to do the same.

If you’ll be the PLASTEC/MD&M Midwest show in Chicago, Plastics Business and Plastics Decorating will be exhibiting in Booth #1867 from Sept. 10-12. Plastics Business also will have a table at the MAPP Benchmarking Conference in Indianapolis, Oct. 17-18. Stop by to say hello, or email me at to set up a time to meet.