Trade shows can be expensive and overwhelming, but they are also an excellent marketing opportunity. If you’re on the fence about participating, read on! We’re laying out the reasons trade shows can be advantageous for you, tips to make your show a success, and a list of upcoming shows where you can make your splash in the foodservice industry.
Why attend a trade show?
Participating in a trade show means multiple days in the same room as thousands of people who have the potential to grow your business: including operators, brokers, distributors, influencers, packaging experts and marketers. It also provides the unique and valuable opportunity to network with other food companies, see new trends in the biz, scope out the competition and build new friendships.
How to make your show a success?
Be as prepared as possible.
It’s important to plan ahead and make sure you have enough time to set yourself up for success. Just when you think you have everything on your list, there’s something else, right? Think through what you will need early on. Printing materials, shipping, and set-up can be more time consuming than you think.
Here’s a starting point for your packing list:
- Display materials (signage, tablecloth, banners, etc.)
- Business cards (and a pouch to collect the ones you get)
- We recommend writing a few notes about the conversation you had on the back of the card, so it’s easy to recall who you spoke with when looking through your stack of cards after the show.
- Samples and small giveaway items
- Sales sheets
- Company information
- If you’re shipping a pallet, be sure to throw an extra roll of shrink wrap in for its return.
- Comfortable shoes. Trade shows mean lots of standing at the booth or walking around the show. Plus, if you’re traveling, you might want to do some celebratory sight-seeing after the show!
This is a balancing act. You need enough people to allow breaks and help with set-up, but you don’t want your booth to feel overcrowded. Depending on how large your booth is, three people manning the booth at a time is usually a good number. It’s also a great idea to have other hands on deck to walk the show to check out trends and competition.
Think of your trade show display as a virtual ad where you have about three seconds to attract the attention of a potential customer. What is the most important thing you want them to know? If you build your display around that one message, you’re guaranteed to be focused and memorable. Remember, less is more!
With hundreds of other vendors, this can be a tall order, but above all remember that it’s important to create an experience and remain true to your company. Pro-tip: Samples, freebies, and demonstrations attract an audience. Also, a lot of people get full (can you imagine?) from all the samples, so hand-outs and on-the-go samples are important to consider.
Know your talking points
What is the main message you want to promote? How does it align with your business goals for the year? Have this prepared ahead of time to keep your conversations on track.
Be approachable. Trade shows can be exhausting but keep a smile on your face and be ready to talk to anyone. You never know how far a good impression can go.
Convinced you want to exhibit?
Check out these upcoming shows!
- NRA Show 2020: The International Foodservice Marketplace
- May 16-19
- Chicago, IL
- NACUFS 2020 National Conference – National Association of College & University Food Services
- July 8-11
- Atlanta, GA
- SNA’s Annual National Conference
- July 12-14
- Nashville, TN
- The 2020 AHF Annual Conference
- August 4-7
- Orlando, FL
- NACS Show
- October 11-14
- Las Vegas, NV
- 2020 NCA Sweets & Snacks Expo – National Confectioners Association
- May 18-21
- Chicago, IL
- Summer Fancy Food Show
- June 28-30
- New York, NY
- Natural Products Expo East 2020
- September 23-25
- Philadelphia, PA
- PLMA’s 2018 Private Label Trade Show
- November 15-17
- Chicago, IL