Do you think that showing at a trade show would be beneficial for your company? Do you also find yourself not knowing where to start?
We have been exhibitors as well as attendees at many different types of trade shows over the years. Of course, we are no trade show consultants or experts — but if you’re new to the trade show game as a young natural food brand, it always helps to get some inside tips from those who have been there!
Trade Show Research
Not every trade show out there is truly worth showing at or even attending. It will depend on your target market — who are you trying to reach as customers? And more importantly, is your company ready to show? Who are other vendors that will be showing, and is it the best industry fit to help your company grow?
There are also so many options for trade shows now, that you’ll have to prioritize which should come first. Each trade show will have a different cost to be an exhibitor or attendee, and going to all of them can get expensive quickly, so you’ll have to closely track your return on investment (ROI).
Finding the right trade shows may be a process of trial and error. You can research as much as possible, but sometimes you need to attend the shows first to get a true flavor. Attending a show can help you discover which ones you may want to exhibit at at in the future too.
Want to start researching the different trade shows shows available? Read The Food Industry’s Best Trade Shows: A Comparison.
Trade Show Prep
Now that you have decided the type of show you want to exhibit at, the hard (but fun!) stuff begins.
The preparation process for a trade show can seem extremely overwhelming and you may not know where to start.
First, you’ll need to apply to exhibit and pay all of your fees. This is usually best done at least a year in advance as many shows fill up quickly.
Next you’ll need to begin compiling all of your trade show materials to bring. Start by creating a task list with dates for when you need to have things done. This prep is the dirty work of the show — and it is a lot of work. Make sure you allow yourself enough time in advance to get everything done.
Make sure you also plan enough time not just to gather the goods, but to have your marketing team design and put together all of your Point of Sale and trade show materials. These are the top priority goods (definitely not the whole list!), but also those that can take the most time.
Product sheet information (whether it be a brochure or flyer)
Table decor that will help promote your company
Products for display
Samples or give aways
These are just a few of the many things, but they can still take a lot of time if you need to create them from scratch, design them, order them or more.
Some of the best trade shows will assign their own turn-key shipping company that they use to help coordinate their event. Some trade shows offer this as an optional extra, while others don’t offer it at all. At the same time, other shows may require that you use only their shipping company/warehouse to streamline the event set-up.
In our personal experience, including a hefty cost comparison, using the trade shows shipping company may be the cheapest and easiest option depending on the your final booth size and amount of promotional material. The best part about using their shipping company is that you can have a full pallet (or just a few boxes) of product delivery early, and it can be delivered directly to your booth — talk about streamlined set-up! When these shipping companies deliver, they also typically remove the shipping materials during the show (so you don’t have to find a place to store all your boxes) and return after the show to load the pallet back up and prepare it to ship back to your office.
Just make sure to keep a close tab on your “move out” time; this is the time it will take to have your products loaded on a truck and shipped to the show. There may also be an earlier cut-off date that your promotional materials need to arrive by.
Not every trade show will have its own trucking company who coordinates all of the shipping; sometimes you need to schedule that on your own. If this is the case, you can pack things in suitcases if you plan on flying or pack up large boxes to be shipped with UPS or FedEx.
Like I mentioned, not every show offers this designated turn-key shipping company. But a word of advice if they do: ship it through their carrier. It will take a lot of stress of your plate.
Trade Show Day!
The trade show has arrived and you’re now looking at the day head on. Don’t stress!
Have a list of things you have to get done first, and be prepared to properly set up your booth in the allotted time given. Depending on the size booth you have, you may either need a team for set-up or just yourself.
Once set-up is complete, take a step back, look at your booth and breathe in a nice deep breath. Be proud, and prepare to start promoting your business!
Lastly, make sure you wear comfy shoes as you will be on your feet for a long time!