National Clothesline
National Clothesline
An experimental Clean Show
As an experiment, it appeared to be a successful one. Clean ’13 was an experiment in several different aspects of the biennial show. While final judgment of those experiments will take some time, they provided food for thought in future planning not only of Clean Shows but all other industry trade shows.
Most obvious was the three-day format of the show. Since 1983, every Clean Show had been four days but this year the Clean Executive Committee, based on input from exhibitors, decided to try a three-day run. Of the experiments, this will be the most difficult to evaluate. A three-day show cuts down on food and lodging expenses for participants. But some exhibitors, especially those who put forth a lot of money and no small amount of effort to construct large exhibits with operating equipment, feel that fourth day is important. That fourth day is a time to finalize deals that evolved out of conversations with buyers earlier in the show. Currently, the next Clean Show, scheduled for Atlanta in April in 2015, is to be three days, but there is still an option for returning to four. It’s a decision the Clean Show Committee will have to make in coming weeks as they evaluate the response of exhibitors to this year’s shortened format.
Another experiment was well received. For the first time, sponsoring associations and paid exhibitors were allowed to schedule programs during exhibit hours. Two rooms were set aside just off the exhibit floor to accommodate these meetings. A Friday afternoon DLI seminar was well attended — standing-room-only, in fact — which gave attendees a chance to sit and take a load off their beleaguered feet, pick up some valuable knowledge without leaving the exhibit hall and then, rested and rejuvenated, return directly to the exhibits.
Finally, the show experimented with enhanced internet services. A Clean Show app let anyone with a smartphone carry the show guide, schedule and maps in their pocket. This proved to be a welcome convenience for those who took advantage of it.
For the show to survive and thrive, it must be open to trying new ideas. Show organizers are to be congratulated for being willing to experiment. New ideas will keep the Clean Show strong.

You are only a button click away
With the click of a button, potential customers now have access to all the information about your business they need in order to make a purchasing decision. Through consumer review sites such as Yelp, they are willing to make a judgement on your business before they even set foot in it. In fact, according to a Nielsen’s study on global trust in advertising, 70 percent surveyed said they trust consumer reviews posted online. Those are numbers you shouldn’t ignore, nor should you overlook the numbers that Darnell Holloway of Yelp mentioned during his seminar at the Clean Show: Yelp hit 102 million monthly visitors to its site during the first quarter of the year.
If you are not listed on Yelp or other consumer review sites, you are missing a golden opportunity. Few things are more helpful to business owners than constructive customer feedback. Besides, when customers look for a local business, that is where they often go first. Holloway emphasized the importance of adding a lot of content to your Yelp listing to capture consumers’ attention… store hours, locations, contact information, a list of services, its history, pictures and even personal information about yourself as the owner. All of these data points are things consumers want to know.
Your business will look even more impressive by simply unlocking some of the free tools available on the site. Small businesses have seen an increase of $8,000 to their annual bottom line by doing this, according to a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group. Of course, having a listing is not enough. In order to maintain a higher star rating, you’ll need to amp up your off-line customer service. Regardless, it is important to note that you can’t please everybody.
Try not to fixate on a couple of negative reviews, especially if you have a high overall rating. After all, 79 percent of the customer reviews on Yelp are three stars or higher, so most consumer feedback is positive. When you do receive negative reviews, don’t respond emotionally. Apologize. Act in a professional manner. Comment in a way that will show others that you wish to rectify the situation. In many cases, such a courteous response will serve to win over more customers than the negative review will lose. These days, it may only take a click of a button for consumers to make judgments on your business, but keep in mind it only takes a few clicks on your part to make sure those judgments are positive.