Trade shows have traditionally been a place for businesses to generate leads, sales, and clients within their industry. Businesses set up a booth to showcase their latest products and services, connect with industry partners, study the competition, and analyze market trends. While that’s still the bread and butter of every trade show, an exciting shift is taking place.
Trade shows are shifting toward innovation
Inc.com blogger Stephen Key has been attending trade shows for more than 30 years and says the focus is changing. In the last three years, he’s noticed companies want to hear from independent inventors and are hosting Shark Tank-style pitching opportunities. This is good news for inventors because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to turn inventions into products.
Should inventors be pitching at trade shows?
There are plenty of trade shows designed specifically for inventors, but sometimes inventors need to be in front of a different group of people. There could be opportunities at industry-specific tradeshows that aren’t found anywhere else. Inventors always want to pitch to industry experts, so it makes sense to pitch wherever they can.
Pitching inventions at an industry trade show sounds like a good idea, but what about the exhibitor’s potential leads? Isn’t the inventor disrupting the flow of leads? If every trade show exhibitor listened to pitches all day, they’d have no time to engage with attendees. Although there is potential for conflict, inventors are generally reasonable when pitching at a trade show. For instance, they’ll step to the side when customers come in and limit pitches to 30 seconds.
Inventors don’t have to be too cautious. Many trade show booths are spacious enough to accommodate several people at once, and are designed to invite people into the space rather than keep them out. As long as the inventor steps aside as needed, there shouldn’t be a problem.
In today’s world, inventors need all the help they can get, and if they can get an industry expert’s attention for 30 seconds it’s worth it. Just as the world never knows what the next revolutionary invention will be, inventors of revolutionary products don’t know who might develop their first prototype.
Innovation drives society forward
No business can succeed long-term without innovation. Innovation creates the edge necessary to penetrate existing markets and connect to developing markets, which can lead to more opportunities like partnerships and collaboration. When a company fails to innovate, that’s when they fall into trouble.
Forbes.com contributor Bianca Mille Cole says, “A failure to innovate in the business world can leave you limping behind competitors who are soaring because they decided to update their business model. This is particularly important in the modern world because of the huge technological advances.” Cole explains how Blockbuster failed to innovate with digital movies and Netflix soared right past them. The same thing happened when Toys R Us decided not to sell toys online and Amazon and eBay took the lead.
Innovation is central to the success of every business, especially when times change. Blockbuster was highly successful when people wanted to rent physical videos and DVDs, but they failed when the world went digital and they didn’t.
Inventors are finally being welcomed by trade groups
Innovation leads every industry, but trade groups typically don’t offer memberships to inventors. However, that’s changing. The trade group ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) added three new membership categories in 2019, one of which is inventor. The inventor category, according to toybook, “will include both seasoned pros who have already produced products and are looking to grow into new channels or license their product, and inventors who are new to the industry and are looking for guidance on how to bring their idea to the next stage.”
It’s time to appreciate innovation
The fact that inventors are encouraged to pitch at regular trade shows demonstrates the necessity for innovation. Industry experts can’t do it all on their own; they need outside help. Sometimes they don’t know what they’re missing until it comes along in the form of an inventor asking for 30 seconds of their time. As revolutionary ideas are discovered, exhibitors will become generous with their time knowing they might end up bringing major change to the world.