Trade shows are important events in the life of a retailer or manager. Not only do you get to learn about trends and what’s going on in your industry, you get to network and cultivate valuable professional relationships. We’ve put together some Trade Show Tips for Retailers so you can get the most out of them.
This is probably the most important part of attending a Trade Show. You should make a list of the goals you want to achieve. Include your own personal goals and those of your company. Every subsequent decision that you make should put you closer to achieving them.
Read through the trade show promotional materials carefully. Use the knowledge you’ve gleaned to make a plan for attending the show. Decide how much time you want to spend at the show, and then allot an appropriate amount to each stand. Consider making appointments with those exhibitors you really want to meet with
Before the Show
- Know what you want to achieve by visiting the show.
- Develop a plan of which exhibitors you want to visit and then organize your list into two parts – “must see” and “want to see” companies.
- Decide how much time you want to spend at the show and then at each stand. Allow extra time for browsing, distractions and waiting in lines.
- Know what information you need to have from each exhibitor. Research different vendors to find out how they differ and what is most important to you. Then plan intelligent questions to ask them.
- Decide how much money you want to spend and do not spend any more than you budgeted. You can always buy once you return to your store.
- Design a lead gathering form to research for specific products/services to make accurate comparisons.
- Make appointments with exhibitors you really want to meet with.
- Get a map of where exhibitors located and prioritize your route.
- Take plenty of business cards to avoid filling out forms.
- Pack comfortable and professional shoes and clothing to wear on the show floor. Walking around shows is extremely tiring. Try insoles for extra comfort. Remember to leave room in your luggage for things to bring back.
- Take a light and comfortable carry all or backpack for accumulated materials. Plastic bags are often uncomfortable as they cut into your hands.
- Make travel and hotel reservations early to maximize on discounted rates.
- Obtain a map of the city and know how to get to the venue.
- Stay at a hotel closest to the convention site to save on travelling and to give you a place to rest, sort through information gathered, and refocus your energy.
- Plan the seminars/workshops you want to attend. Split sessions with your colleagues if you can to maximize data gathering.
- Pre-register for the event and arrive 30 minutes before opening to avoid standing in long lines
At the Show:
- Revise your plan at the show. The show directory and schedule often changes several times before a show.
- Check coats and bags so you don’t have to drag them around with you.
- Carry a pad and pen to jot down important notes, or Tablet for note taking.
- Collect information that is of interest to you or that might interest others in your company. Request literature and samples be mailed instead of having to carry them with you.
- Tell exhibitors you are on a tight time schedule to avoid casual chatter and get straight down to business.
- Look for networking opportunities. Network with industry leaders. Get invited to exhibitor’s hospitality suites/ receptions. At workshops introduce yourself to people around you – hand out/collect business cards. Hook up with new contacts at mealtimes for added information
- Look out for Trade Show special offers, use your budget well, you could save a lot of money.
- As you are face to face with your suppliers now is the time to ask for permanent discounts. After all, the worst thing that can happen is that they say no and your prices remain the same.
- Look out for new and innovative products that could mark you out from the competition at home.
- Skip overly crowded stands and plan to come at end of day when traffic is slower.
- Take a break after a few hours to refresh and get some fresh air. Air in convention halls is dry, stale and draining. Drink water regularly instead of sugary drinks or alcohol to avoid dehydration.
- Write a trip report as you go along and summarise your notes every evening.
- Be prepared to push for answers to questions exhibitors are not prepared to answer.
- Avoid conversations with vendors you have no interest in.
- Leave the show about 30 minutes before closing to avoid long lines for buses and cabs
After the Show:
- Plan how you are going to implement information gathered.
- Be prepared to follow-up after the show for literature and samples requests.
Don’t forget to HAVE FUN! Remember, this is what your friends think is the glamorous part of your job as a retailer.