Whether you are a single store owner, member of a buying group, or part of a big chain, trade shows provide you with the opportunity to meet other retailers who are likely to be facing the same challenges that you face every day – what a wonderful networking opportunity!
* At classes and seminars, luncheons, association business meetings, and social gatherings, look for other retailers to compare notes with. Introduce yourself. Say, “You’ve got challenges and I do, too. How can we help each other?” Set a goal to meet least five new retailers each day. You’ll find this network of non-competing retailers will become an outstanding resource to you throughout the year.
* Agree to meet with your networking group at a specified time at the end of each day to discuss the best things you’ve each found at the show. Together, set a goal for each member of the group: find the best vendor for _____________, look for the best price on ________________, which vendors will provide help with upcoming promotional events, etc.
* Keep your group together after the show and agree to get together at all future shows. You can also set up monthly meetings with your network. You be the one to take charge and make it happen. Choose one morning every month for all be on a conference call. Share what’s new, hot, and happening in your stores. You can even chose a “Challenge of the month” to be discussed at the next teleconference meeting.
* Introduce yourself to the people at the trade publications booths. When you stop to pick up the latest copy, introduce yourself to the editors and other staff members. They are an invaluable source of industry information and they want to help you succeed.
* Bring a camera and take photos of yourself with every vendor and VIP you can find. Hang them in your store to increase visibility and credibility – customers will enjoy seeing you rub shoulders with other movers and shakers in their favorite industry!
* When you return home, send out press releases to go along with the photos you took at the show. Newspapers are hungry for news, but they’re starving for pictures. Did you know that almost 80% of news that appears on a local level comes from a one-page press release sent in by someone like you? Beware! The medias can sniff out bold attempts to get free publicity, you have to know how to do it right. If you’d like specific instructions on how to write press releases that get noticed, drop us an email for your free copy.
A few more trade show success tips:
* Sign-up on every mailing list you can find – to stay one step ahead of your competition, you need to know about new product release, applications, and industry goings-on before they do.
* Bring plenty of business cards – you don’t want to run out during a big networking opportunity.
* Just before you leave for the show take a fresh batch store photos, both inside and out. These will come in handy during discussions with vendors, seminar leaders, and with your networking group.
* Review your trade show experience on the plane ride home. Did you meet the goals you set before you left town? Note anything you will need to follow up on at a later date.
* Immediately schedule a store meeting to discuss what you saw while it’s still fresh in your mind. Brainstorm ideas to display and sell all the new goods that will begin to arrive shortly.
Trade shows are a solid investment in your future if you approach them correctly. They take you out of your daily routine and stimulate your thinking process. You are exposed to new products and applications and you get to meet new people – all good things that are destined to help make even more successful than you already are.