Headed to see us at one of the industry trade shows this year? I thought it might be fun to share some tips on having a successful show. These are some things I’ve picked up from exhibiting at multiple trade shows over the last 19 years or so.
1) Have a goal in mind. Think about why are you headed to this show in the first place. Are you looking to open a new location, add to your existing business, take classes, purchase a specific piece of equipment or just have fun?
2) Plan it out. Every trade show I’ve been to has a floor map online with a list of exhibitors. Some of these shows can take a lot of time to wander around. Copy the booth number and name of the people you really don’t want to miss. Some shows even have an app for the show floor! There is nothing worse than realizing it is the last hour of the show and you still have not seen that last vendor.
3) Take a class or two. Most trade shows have free educational seminars. Usually they are also sales & marketing opportunities for the speaker but that does not mean there is not good information to be had. Classes often run at the same time so plan them out ahead of time. Have a seminar you wanted to hear but couldn’t make it? Ask the speaker for the education materials. I always let people know that I can send the information on my class even if you don’t get time to attend.
4) Step outside the box. Visit a booth or two you have never stopped at, hear the 30 second pitch and see what happens. It’s a trade show – you are not required to buy anything :). Sometimes you might find something that you didn’t even know you wanted.
5) Take a quick glance first. Run through the show taking a quick glance at the booths. Mark down anything you might want to follow up on later. Don’t run out of time!
6) Talk to people. Even other exhibitors may have information about a product you are looking for. If you are looking for a specific piece of equipment or product and unsure about it, ask the other exhibitors. I’m not referring to competing products or vendors, just the other vendors you already know and trust. People often ask our opinion of roasters, equipment vendors etc. While we may not use those items ourselves, we probably have customers that do or might have a specific contact for you.
7) Get literature mailed. We know you are going to dump half the paperwork at the hotel in order to make room for samples. Most of us are happy to mail a packet to you so you don’t have to lug it around.
8) Attend an industry party or function. Not just to blow off steam but to meet other people with similar stores. It’s great to immerse yourself!
9) Just tell us you are not interested. If you really don’t want anyone to follow up with you – just say so. Most of us on the exhibitor side of things are not really interested in calling you a million times and then hearing you are not interested. No need to give a fake number or email. You really won’t hurt our feelings!
10) Talk to other people that are there. Often I will wind up talking to two different coffee shops about our Point of Sale software and then see the owners walk away while still talking. These people have the same issues you do and may have different answers!
Hope to see you at a show!