Marketing not rocket science: Trade Shows

Here you are in Boston at Expo East.  You're a trade-show veteran.  Your products are known and on the shelves of natural products retailers and you have a new addition to your line. Or you're a newbie. You've invested your life savings or kid's college fund to get your business off the ground, and all you need is to get in front of a buyer from Whole Foods or Wegman's and you'll be a hit. Whoever you are, marketing your product at a trade show is all about the things your mom taught you.

There's no mystery here.  Marketing at an in-person event is all about what your momma taught you at a very young age - do unto others. That's right, do unto others as you would have others do unto you. What does that mean?

Smile and say hello: Your feet hurt, you've had less than ten hours of sleep in three days, and you've been living off coffee and haven't been able to get to the gym.  You know what?  The person whose business your trying to get has the same issues, and people are trying to sell them things.  Suck it up, smile and say hi like you're well-rested, well-fed, and are very happy that you have the opportunity to hear about their needs.

Listen: While the temptation is great to get your message out, stop and take it in.  Your message will be that much more powerful if you can put it into the context of your (potential) customer's needs.  What challenges are they facing in their business? How does your company/product make their life easier. Take a breath, and listen to them.  

Be polite: This person has made the decision to spend their time with you.  The very least you can do is put your cell phone down and look them in the eye.  Or use the hand holding your Starbuck's  to shake their hand instead of enabling your caffeine addiction.

Say, "thank you":  Thank you acknowledges that you appreciate the time a potential customer has taken to hear about your company/product.  Oh yeah, look them in the eye when you say it.

Common sense? Yes.  But that's because it's marketing not rocket science.

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