Having a good trade show—at Natural Products Expo, Fancy Food or others—is all about preparation, execution and follow-up. With Expo West approaching, here are some things we recommend to make the most of your brief time in Anaheim.
Before the show
- Practice setting up your booth. Find a space and make it into your expo booth—include the flooring and lighting you plan to use. It’ll also give you a good idea of how long it takes to set up. You’ll see things you hadn’t expected and realize what’s missing while you still have time to make corrections.
- Show names of VIPs to your team and make sure they know who to look out for—and who to notify when they see them.
- Know your role. No one should be left wandering around looking for someone to speak to. Everyone should know their role, whether it’s sampling, speaking to buyers, funneling loiterers away, etc…
- Plan meetings. If you have an important contact that you want to spend time with, plan a meeting outside your booth. Your booth is too crazy to have a detailed meeting without distractions. Sitting outside in the hall will allow you to give the attention required of your colleague.
- Set goals and tailor marketing materials appropriately. Are you looking to increase distribution? Sign brokers? Introduce your new product line? Whatever it is, people should be able to tell with a half-second glance at your booth. Think of your booth like a packaged product next to hundreds of others on a shelf and strategize how to stand out from the crowd.
During the show
- Get there early. The hour before the show starts is a great time to walk the show and chat with other exhibitors. You can make sure your booth is looking great and make last minute runs for needed materials.
- Energize your team! Be ready for nine hours of conversation so have your caffeine source on hand. If you prefer natural endorphins, hold a pen between your teeth for 10 seconds while tilting your head back for a mood lifting energy boost.
- Have a pep talk. Go over the pitch and make sure everyone is ready to give their all. Review pricing, details like warehouse location, whether you export, and FAQs to be expected during the show.
- Keep your energy up. In the afternoon, increase blood flow by walking around, go outside to get some sun, or do handstands to get blood back into your upper body.
- Sample aggressively. If you have a product that needs to be tasted to be believed, stand in the aisles rather than waiting for people to come to you.
- Take notes for follow-up. When you get a business card, jot notes so that you can follow up effectively later on. Always have a small notebook on hand in case someone tells you something you want to know tomorrow.
- Walk the show. When things are slow, walk around to see what else is out there, take photos of the booth you chose for next year, see what your competition is doing, who has nice packaging, etc...
After the show
- FOLLOW UP! This is the most important part. Send samples and sell sheets to customers with highest priority. Add contacts to your mailing list. This is when the real business gets done.
- Note best practices. Note what you did well, what you didn’t do well and what you should do differently for the next show to make it even better.