Tips to Making the Most of Your Tradeshow Experience

This year, Green Team Distribution will attend the ABC Kids Expo in Las Vegas. We are excited to represent many of the eco-friendly baby brands we represent and introduce those brands to those retailers who share our green-living values.

This post is dedicated to any retailer or manufacturer attending tradeshows as a means of scoping out new and exciting brands to carry in their stores.

Photo Source: ABC Expo Website

Tradeshow Tips for Retailers

Tip #1:  Set Goals

Think about what you want to get out of a show. Are you looking to add unique lines and brands to your store?  Or are you looking to network with customers?  Remember, some tradeshows are closed to the public and are solely for forging business relationships between manufacturers/manufacturer sales reps and retailers.  On the other hand, there are many shows that are more about connecting directly with consumers and drumming up direct sales opportunities.  Choose your show wisely.

Tip #2:  Game Plan

About a month out, take a look at the show’s organizing tools online. Chances are they’ll provide a map and list of all the exhibitors, and they often provide online tools for you to mark which brands you want to visit and will help you plot out the most efficient way to do so.  Take advantage of those tools – they can save you a lot of time and help you maximize your attendance.

Part of your game plan should be to make appointments with the brands you most want to meet with. They will be busy – but if you plan ahead of time (and after you’ve plotted your visit) – you’ll ensure the full attention of the owner or sales representative.  These brands should include current brands you carry (you’ll want to see what new products they’re launching and learn about any show deals), and new brands you’re interested in learning more about!

Tip #3:  Keep a Diary

You’ll be talking with a lot of people and it can become overwhelming to remember who said what and what you bought, etc. I highly recommend you keep a written diary and jot down names and notes about that person or booth.  You can tape business cards to your notebook pages as well. This will help you keep track of everything in one place. If you’re tech-savvy, bring your tablet and keep your diary electronically.

Tip #4:  Follow Up

Just because you’re a retailer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do any post-show follow up. Follow up with those you met with and add them to our professional network on LinkedIn. Even consider sending a handwritten thank you card to any professionals who went above and beyond the call of duty to accommodate you or who you especially enjoyed meeting and putting a face with the name. Little acts of kindness will ensure your presence is permanently imprinted in their minds – and will make attending next year’s show, when you can see them again – all the more enjoyable!

Tradeshow Tips for Retailers 

Tip #1:  Plan Ahead

You’ll want to be able to pick your booth location – the early bird gets the best worm!

Tip #2: Design Matters

Make your booth look professional and inviting. You want people to come in and stay awhile, right? Add some chairs, refreshments and think of your booth as your home where you’re entertaining guests.  Have plenty of products available for visitors to touch, explore and play with.

Tip #3: Staff Right

Your staff represents your brand. Make sure everyone is dressed professionally and well trained on how to talk about your business and products. Consider taking turns. Tradeshows can be long and tiring days for your staff. Stagger everyone so they have time to visit booths or get some R&R. You want your staff to be alert and engaging, not yawning and waiting for the clock to strict 6pm so they can leave.

Tip #4: Come with Specials

Your retailers will be in a buying mood – come prepared to tempt them with amazing show specials and deals.

Tip #5: Make Appointments Ahead of Time

Make appointments with your VIP retailers and any new retailers you’d like to meet and greet with at least 1 month out from the show.  Show attendee lists are available for free or a nominal fee – take advantage of this information to conduct some strategic pre-show outreach. Also remember to make appointments with press – they are there too!

Tip #6:  Be Press Ready

Press and bloggers attend these shows to network with brands and research editorial. You can request the show press list from the tradeshow organizers and set up appointments with press and bloggers you’d like to meet.  Also, most shows have a pressroom – so you’ll want to have some sort of press kit or press samples available in the press room (you can drop them off in the press room when you arrive – early bird gets the best spaces!).  Keep some press kit information and press samples on hand at your booth too.

Tip #7: Don’t Stress About the Competition

Your biggest competitor will be at the show and they may even have a bigger booth or better new product launch than you. Worrying about that stuff will only create negativity in your booth and among your staff. Instead, focus on your experience and do the best you can with your resources. Take mental notes of things you like or don’t like at other’s booths and use that information to tweak your presence next year.

Also, you should never say anything disparaging about the competition (instead say, “I don’t know about them, but let me tell you about us…”), nor anything you don’t want anyone to know (private information). You don’t know who is stopping by your booth (it could be a competitor in disguise) and you should be professional and buttoned up at all times!

Tip #8:  Follow Up

You’ll want to follow up with those that expressed interest in your brand and anyone who even submitted a PO. Keep a diary of everyone who stops by your booth (take good notes, staple their business card to the page), and don’t stop working once the show ends!!

What other tradeshow tips to you have for retailer and/or manufacturer attendees?



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