These days trade shows aren't only a place to connect with potential retail partners, they're also the perfect place to grow or begin a relationship with important members of the press who are there to check out what's new, next and "now". But how do you get them excited about your booth, your brand and your story? We turned to a few members of the press who are not only major influencers, but trade show attendees as well, and let them tell you how to do it in their own words...
Bryce is the founder and Editor of The Luxury Spot, and can be seen regularly on television and online sharing the best of fashion, food, home, beauty and more. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram (you'll thank us we promise).
Aly is a writer who covers lifestyle, travel, beauty and more for outlets including The Today Show, Women's Health, Your Tango, Ask Men, Beauty High and The Daily Makeover. She's also a Twitter Party master. Keep up with her work and adventures on Twitter & Instagram.
Trae is the senior editor and media spokesperson for RetailMeNot which means you may recognize her from her appearances on hot shows like the Today Show and Extra, where she shares her product picks and wonderful deals. Entrepreneur alert: Trae also co-founded @ThreeCustom. It's Trae's mission to make savvy, smart shopping cool! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram!
How can a business get on your radar, as well as get you excited about them or their booth before you even get to the trade show?
BG: I get a lot of those 'make an appointment to see our booth emails' and frankly, those never get me. Like, if I don't already know you, why will I bother to see your booth? The point is, make a relationship with me. Send a personal email, ask what I'm looking for at the show, and if you have a fitting client let's make an appointment for a latte at the show while you give me the details.
AW: I think it pays to do your research and reach out before the trade show itself. The two most recent ones I attended - CES and SXSW - we're talking about tens of thousands of people congregating on a rather finite area. It's impossible not to be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude going on all at once (I like to liken it to the tower of Babel) - and inevitably, I'm getting random tweets, "stop by tower c, booth 1200 and say hi!" - it's impossible. Email me before the conference starts and make an appointment, then it's a lot easier for me to make it work when I map out my day.
TB: I am totally open to receiving booth invites from brands prior to a show (many shows share a list of press attendees with participating brands). I prefer when booth invites are concise and to the point, with an embedded product visual, a brand/product overview and a URL to the brand's site.
What kind of booth gets your attention when you’re walking the trade show floor?
BG: I like new, unusual, and attention-grabbing. If your booth is super plain jane and doesn't do anything to remind me that your product is exciting/worth talking about, well, I might never notice it. Also, cookies usually lure me in even though I know I'm not supposed to take them from strangers.
AW: The fun/different ones. At SXSW, there were booths that were loungy, with power outlets, maybe lattes. People would stop to "fuel" - and then learn about what was going on within.
TB: First impressions are important. I am drawn to booths that are bright and cheerful and that deliver a clear message about the brand and its products. Some brands are more forward and have staff approaching passers by, which I think is fine as long as they are not too aggressive and can take "no" for an answer (flyers or business cards are good for the "no's"). If brands do not have staff approaching people, the staff manning the booth should be friendly and approachable and they should look like they want to be there (which is tough because trade shows can be brutal). Also, even if all staff are busy, someone should acknowledge a new visitor and let them know that someone will be with them shortly. Ignoring a visitor may cause the visitor to move on, and every visitor should be viewed as a potential opportunity.
When you’re connecting with a business and checking out what they have to offer at a tradeshow, what types of things do you like to have happen? What do you not want to have happen?
BG: I really like to build personal relationships-- people I know I can reach out to for insight, quotes, and interesting input for later in the game, well beyond the trade show.
AW: I like to avoid big stacks of paper kits. This isn't 1996. Anything you can email me is HUGELY appreciated, especially if I'm going to be lugging a heavy bag around a trade show floor all day.
TB: I like when the folks at the booth deliver a message that is relevant to the individual. "Are you familiar with xx brand?" and then launching into a description isn't the best approach. "Are you familiar with xx brand?" and then "Tell me a little about what you typically cover." Knowing that can help you tailor your talking points so you are only sharing relevant information.
Let’s talk follow up: Is it cool with you if a business follows up with you after meeting you at a tradeshow? How do you prefer that happens?
BG: Absolutely! I don't like stalker behavior-- I've had some PR girls literally show up 'coincidentally' at my gym right after Instagramming I'm there, but, a quick 'it was great meeting!' email is just enough of a nudge.
AW: It's fine by me, but no phone calls, please. It gets overwhelming. Email is fine!
TB: Absolutely. I might gather dozens of business cards a day and take pages of notes at a trade show, so I always appreciate follow up because it makes my job easier. I always appreciate it when the follow up is specific to something we discussed at the show and not just a blanket mailing, although blanket mailings that share a recap of the products at the show is much better than no follow up at all.
Have any trade show tips you can share? Leave them in the comments below! Need even more trade show TLC? This podcast will help!