Making The Right Splash at The Show
We're getting into the 2014 winter trade show season and anyone reading this has varying experiences with past shows. You've either participated in several and know exactly what you want to accomplish—or you have attended few (or none) and may have levels of excitement or anxiety.
Typically the reason distributors attend shows is related to new trends for their customers. There are a number of similar reasons, but it boils down to being more successful. Suppliers, similarly, want to get into the minds of distributors and offer their solution to the distributor's customer's opportunity.
However, while you're at the show, you are marketing yourself to a number of people. Sure, you want to "present well" to the people in the booth—or the people walking the show—depending on which side you're on. That's just common sense. However, there are other ways to propel (or damage) your personal brand while you're at the show.
- Distributors, you're investing your time and travel dollars into some type of return. Understand why you're there, and have everything you do work toward that purpose. Use that show-specific elevator speech when you engage at a booth (why are you there, and how that can person/company help). Use the tools the show organizer provides and budget your time—have a purpose and clearly explain your goals as you "work the show" or network away from the floor. Be present with the supplier—make eye contact—and step away if you need to answer the phone. Impress that supplier, and you'll be remembered.
- Suppliers, when that distributor comes to your booth and explains why they are there/how you can help, be present in the moment with that distributor... and follow up with them after the show. Don't look over their head to see who else is in the aisle, and let that call go into voicemail unless it's a life-or-death emergency. Impress that distributor, and you'll be remembered.
- Participate in other events at the show. Some of you are reading "party" into this sentence. That's not where I'm going. Yes, there are a number of fun, evening events—and most are a great way to network and spend downtime with contacts we may not otherwise see. There are usually recognition events as well as education sessions where we can learn from others, but also make an impact to others while we're there. It's how we make the impact that can help or hurt us. In the age of social media, a picture is worth a thousand words. Unplanned video is worth several thousand. Even when there is no picture, the image of someone taking the event to the extreme can be burned on our minds forever. We're all adults, I won't say more.
- Take care of yourself. Yes, I'm a mom. I'm also someone who has experienced many trade shows on both sides of the booth—having too little sleep, not eating right and not drinking enough water. It makes for a long day and definitely doesn't help leave a good impression on others. I sympathize with suppliers entertaining distributors into the wee hours. It amazes me how some can look fresh and others look groggy—when I know they both had the same late night. Do what you can to stay on course. While you were impressing a few people the evening before, you have a whole show audience to make an impression on during the day. Make it a true reflection of your personal brand.