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Your Trade Show Shopping List
October 1st 2011 -

Does it seem like thereís never enough time to get around to all the exhibits you want to see and sessions youíd like to attend? If youíre like me, almost every session sounds exciting and I cannot be in more than one place at a time! I think thatís an admirable problem to have and it demonstrates the excellent content and value brought to the industry every year. This year proves to be no exception.

One place where it is easy to get sidetracked is talking to exhibitors. Inevitably there are new products and updated features, but there is also the overabundance of information and especially if you are talking to several competing vendors. Itís easy to get the details confused and facts skewed. So the first and most important thing to do is to take notes! If youíre a pen-and-paper person, start a new page for each vendor and keep as many notes as you can as you talk to that vendor. If youíre a digital tablet or smartphone note taker, start a new file for each vendor. Take any handouts or brochures that can offer additional information or links to web resources. The important thing is not to make a decision during the show but to take away as much usable information and then go home and take time to digest all that information in order to arrive at the best decision for your business needs.

In the information technology spectrum, one of the best things to ask is whatís new and improved since the last time youíve toured a vendorís product. Software development moves so quickly that if you havenít comparison shopped the various salon management software programs in a few years itís certainly high time to take a tour of each vendorís product offering. This is especially true in light of the continued evolution of regulations and application of the tan tax. No doubt every software company has been working diligently to improve the tax functionality and ease the burden this places on salon operators. If it has been a few years, you may also find that there are a whole host of new options and features youíve been missing out on!

This year will also see plenty of new opportunities for ancillary tech-related services, including marketing and social media management as well as merchant processing integrations. Merchant processing is going to be a hot topic this year Ė with the implementation of new laws governing the fees assessed for credit and debit card transactions, now is an opportune time to compare the many options available for credit card and recurring debit processing. The best way to prepare for a conversation about merchant processing is to know the rates and fees you are currently paying or better yet bring a recent copy of your merchant account statement for comparison. Merchant processing is not always an apples-to-apples comparison so being prepared will certainly reap benefits in more productive discussions.

There are also several options for your marketing needs so you are virtually assured to find one that fits your needs and your budget. Like merchant processing, if you are currently working with a marketing vendor but want to compare prices and services, it is best to know definitively what you are currently paying and what level of service you are paying for. This would include how many mailings, emails and text messages you send on an average month. Marketing services are typically priced according to volume but you donít want to overpay for capacity you wonít use.

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