A trade show can be the most important thing you do all year, but it is not an inexpensive commitment. How can you make your investment pay off, not only in terms of sales but in precious face-to-face time?
With top food and grocery shows coming up – including the produce industry’s Fresh Summit (Oct. 18-20), the natural industry’s Supply Side West (Nov. 12-16) and Expo West (March 6-9), Winter Fancy Food (Jan. 19-21), and Summer Fancy Food (June 29-July 1) – here are some tips from years of experience from all of us at McFadden/Gavender.
Know your audience and goals. Of course, you want to do everything. Ask yourself, what’s the most important part of the show: Is it lead generation? Building buzz? Sampling? What is your “big story”? How important are giveaways for your audience and brand? Set clear, measurable goals each day. Meet with your sales professionals two times a day. Prioritizing will help you set a realistic budget and avoid expensive surprises. With very clear sales and awareness goals, setting relevant meetings and achieving goals will lead to success.
Secure your flights and hotels. Booking early saves money and gets you the best choices. It also means you can decide early who really needs to go, why and when. Advertising and event sponsorships. Spend smartly. If your booth is huge, a smaller ad may be enough. But if you’re new, in an out-of-the-way booth location, or have genuinely big news, a big ad or sponsorship might be worth the cost. If you’re active on social media, plan, write and schedule any in-show outreach ahead of time.
Advertising and event sponsorships. Spend smartly. If your booth is huge, a smaller ad may be enough. But if you’re new, in an out-of-the-way booth location, or have genuinely big news, a big ad or sponsorship might be worth the cost. If you’re active on social media, plan, write and schedule any in-show outreach ahead of time.
Bump up your booth. Check and re-check your contract for rules and space limitations. If you’re reusing your booth, inspect it to see that everything works and has the latest logos or slogans. If you’re designing a new booth, make it modular, quick to set up and take down, and reusable.
Collateral. Do you need new material/brochures/selling sheets for business customers? Will you have a show special, and will you have a pricing sheet for customers? What about posters? Do you need a hard copy press kit or will a digital one do? You will need to write, design and print ALL of these, so get price quotes and make the big decisions early.
PR interviews and press. Which publications or journalists are on your wish list? Don’t wait for the show to woo them – strategize with your PR team to set appointments about a month before and then confirm close to the show. Get reporters’ cell phone numbers so they are easy to find among thousands of attendees. Check what online and onsite press releases are free for exhibitors, and prepare product info and good quality hi-res photos. Many publications scan these sections for pre-show “what to watch for” round-ups.
Finally, some general show time tips:
- Make sure each team member is clear on his or her priorities so that you don’t duplicate each other’s efforts at the show.
- Bring more of everything rather than less – product samples, shirts, brochures, device chargers and extension cords, to name a few.
- Pack comfortable work shoes. You may be a triathlete or live in high heels, but you will still need those shoes on day three. Trust us on this – comfortable shoes are a must.
After the show
- Have a plan and prepare materials for timely post-show lead follow-up.
- Do a thorough post-evaluation: Hits, misses, what goals were met or exceeded and what can be improved on or learned. How will your show be better next year? Should your team attend next year? Was your time and cost worth it?
Most people consider their first show the time to make mistakes and learn. You can do that, or you can learn from our experience. See you at the shows!