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Trade Show Tips You May Not Have Thought Of...Really!

Attending trade shows give us a great advantage. We are able to see what’s new, strengthen relationships with suppliers and our distributor colleagues, as well as benefit from a variety of education sessions.

In January our industry hosts two great industry events…The PPAI Expo and the ASI Show Orlando.

There are a variety of ways to effectively work trade shows. In this article, three savvy industry professionals, Lee Ann Peter from FiF Marketing/iPROMOTEu, Jennifer Sullivan from Your Partner Promotions, and Glenda Stormes-Bice from Bankers Advertising have put together some thoughts on how to make the most of your trade show experience.

There is good stuff here. Take advantage of their expertise!

Get ready!

  • Comfy shoes. You read this everywhere, and it’s the truth. Your front line to a good show is comfy shoes. This is not a fashion show. You will retain more mentally and go farther if your feet aren’t screaming. Don’t try a new pair of shoes on the show floor. Do consider extra cushy insoles. Do consider the foot/leg massage outside the show floor.

  • ·Relaxed clothes. Whatever you wear, casual or dressy, make sure you going to be comfortable standing in it for 18 hours. Because it may very well be that long. And you will be standing most of the time. If it pinches, bunches, if you have to attend to it to keep it in place, don’t wear it. You don’t need the distraction.

  • A bag you are comfortable carrying or can roll without being obnoxious. Rolling carts have a bad reputation on the show floor. If you can’t carry much and are picking up a lot, consider the Valet service that trade shows offer. But if you have to bring wheels, be aware of it at all times. You take up twice as much space on already crowded isles and valuable booth space. Plus, people’s toes are magnets for wheels. So, use it if you need it, but be considerate. And if you carry a bag, make sure the straps don’t cut into your shoulder and that hangs at a comfortable height for you. Save your neck and shoulder and determine these things in advance of the show floor.

  • Pain relief. Everyone gets sore somewhere! You won’t regret keeping your choice of meds handy. Your body will thank you.

Stay connected!

  • The lightest technology is your friend. Most people need to be connected to the office but make it easy on yourself. Bluetooth headpiece will make your phone more accessible. A tablet is better than a laptop. Every ounce counts when you are lugging it around all day. Ask yourself if you really need it enough to carry it ALL DAY.

  • ·Password app – these are great for securing all your passwords and logins. LastPass, Dashlane or DataVault are good ones for both laptops, tables, and they have apps for your phone.

  • Keep it with you. Nothing is worse than setting down your phone or camera while talking and then forgetting it. Consider a lanyard or cord that keeps it tethered to you. If you feel like a child, embrace the feeling. It is a better feeling then the pit in your stomach when you realize you are missing something important.

Gathering Information

  • Your schedule on some sort of electronic platform or good notes of when and where you need to be is a great idea. There are many platforms for note keeping - Evernote, OneNote, Keep, etc. You can keep flights, class schedules and location, and any notes about the show to avoid carrying around papers (and weight). It is also a good idea to keep flyers or offers you get pre-show that you need to have on the show floor. However, you prefer to handle your note keeping, utilizing what is best for you is a plan you won’t regret.

  • Use SAGE Mobile or your choice of show planners. The SAGE program allows you to preplan your routes of booths to hit. You can pull up your internal favorites and it will populate them. You can leave notes of what was discussed or ordered along with pictures.

  • Pictures – It doesn’t matter how good you think your memory is. You won’t remember where that product is from you took a picture of. You think you will, but you won’t. Use your cell or camera to take a pic of the booth sign you are at and then of any items you like or have ordered from the booth. Even business cards or nametags of people you have talked to there. When you get back to your office you won’t be wondering what supplier carried what or who said what to you. Your pictures will tell you. Be diligent about your record keeping in this way and you will appreciate it later.

  • Notetaking – Like picture taking, you will need more information than you think you will. Jotting down an item number and thinking you will remember it later won’t work. You might consider a handheld, digital tape recorder. It allows you to capture all of the information without being distracted trying to write it down. You can also record all your questions and answers. Transcribing the important parts is easy, especially when you can replay them. No matter what method you choose, make sure your notetaking is more complete than you think it needs to be.

Random Thoughts

  • Have plenty of business cards - Consider a business card printed just for the show. A card with name, company, and mailing address on the front, with LOTS of white space in the middle. On the back perhaps email, phone, and social media connections and a Thank you message. The priority here is space to write on. Print on flat white stock and provide plenty of area for detailed notes. They are so inexpensive, it is a great investment.

  • New Product Pavilion at the PPAI Expo – If you go when it opens it will be a mob scene. If that is your thing, great, but just be aware. But don’t wait until the last day of the show either. You WILL want to go back to the show floor for more information on the products you find at the NPP. So make sure you get there early enough to circle back and do this.

  • Identify it! It is inevitable that eventually, you might lose something. Make sure that everything you have with you has your name and cell phone number it so if you lose it someone can get it home to you. Trade shows have a lost and found but it will save time for someone to see your number and just call you.

  • Power cords and/or power banks because everything you do on it will suck up more battery time than it should. A 6200mAh will power your phone a couple of times and is not too big to carry. If you see a charging station or outlet and think you might need to take advantage of it, do so.

  • A 6-plug power strip is a nice addition to your hotel room. Outlets are usually in short supply. A strip allows you to plug in everything in one spot and not crawl over dressers and chairs to find extra outlets.

Take care of yourself!

Uber - Everyone recommends it. Get it set up on your phone now and watch a fast easy ride show up when you need it. Cabs are also available and don’t be afraid to share. If you are in the cab line, just shout out a request for anyone going to your hotel. Cab-pooling saves money and environmental resources. And you are tired at night, but consider paying for a ride to the show floor in the morning. Vegas is a lot of walking. Saving a few physical steps in the morning makes it easier to get thru the day.

Food - If you don’t pack food to eat that day, consider picking up a sandwich in the morning at any of the 24/7 or convenience shops on your way to the show and shove it in your bag. This beats standing in line at lunchtime. Tables are always easier to find space at IN the show floor food areas. All this means you don’t have to leave the show floor (and lose time). If you do want a break, the food court will be a mob scene but the lines do move pretty well although table space is at a premium.

Water is the best drink. If you don’t live in a desert it is hard to realize how dry it really is. Don’t wait till you are thirsty- drink all the time because you will need it. Have the cab or Uber pit stop at the gas station or drug store and pick up a case of water when you get there and never be without it.

Celebrate! Trade shows can be a lot of work, but there is room for fun! In addition to the industry social events, there are endless places to meet for food or drink to visit someone. As this may be the only time of year you will see many people, do slow down long enough to make a connection even if it is just a few moments on the show floor. We are all successful because of each other. Take a moment with each other to value that.


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