by Designing Mom Mari of Small for Big
First of all, I think it’s apropos that I’m writing this at 11:15 PM. One of the truest things about being a work at home mom is that the hours suck!
Historically, I’ve been to many tradeshows while working as an in-house designer, and technically an exhibitor. I remember working hard to hide my badge, and surreptitiously skulk around taking notes on other booths and their new products before their sales staff could get a good look at me and ask me to move on. Some booths are like that – very touchy. But I just returned from the ABC Kids Show in Las Vegas, and this time I was a member of the media. It was all about the snooping and scooping for my kids design blog: Small for Big.
And I loved it.
I had the honor of sharing space and time with my good friend Helen, who owns Numsi (a gorgeous line of children’s wall art and accessories, if you’d like to click through!). And I realized there are lots of little things that exhibitors can do to make the lives of press and buyers a little easier. You want to do everything you can to make them notice, stop, and walk away satisfied. The better to feature your product in the future! I thought I’d share a couple of things I’ve noticed:
1. Product images – Have some! The best case scenario? Burn 20 CDs with your favorite product images so you can hand them to interested members of the press and your favorite buyers that take the time to stop and chat. I took pictures with some booths, forgot with others, and hated half my shots anyway once I was back at my computer. (you can also include them in every press kit, but that’s a crap shoot, and see #10)
2. Product images part two – If you don’t have CD’s, make sure to respond asap to email requests for images after the show. As a blogger, I was working on 5 different guest posts – as well as my own content. I needed images fast, and when I didn’t get them, I passed over the company. Show coverage is veeeery time sensitive.
3. Make friends with other exhibitors. Helen was an ace at this one. It’s particularly good to be nice to your neighbors (who can help watch your displays for 5 minutes when you pee) but also chat with your favorite companies. Build your community – networking leads to great things, but more importantly, it makes the whole show feel better when you get to talk shop with like-minded individuals.
4. Have SOMETHING that is new. It’s the nature of this business. It will be the first question you’re asked – particularly by people who already know your product. For me, it was often the best way to start a discussion about the product in front of me.
5. Have a show special. Discounted shipping, Free store display samples with minimum orders, etc. It’s the question I heard buyers ask most frequently. Again, it’s a great way for them to start the conversation.
6. Make sure your booth is not only well displayed – but easy to enter, exit, and browse. Too much product, and narrow entry areas will leave the casual passerby feeling overwhelmed. They’ll be less likely to take the extra effort to officially enter your space.
7. Don’t hover. If you can stand even a couple feet outside of your space, you’ll notice more people wandering in – then smile and stay out of their way until you can judge their interest level. Be friendly, hand them your info, but don’t push! (I HATED the exhibitors trying to yell at me when I passed by their booth. It just reeks of desperation. There has to be another way.)
8. Try to bring additional lighting for your booth. It will help bring you one step closer to the big players with the uber-professional booths. Though a floor lamp from your living room might work, try for clip lights that attach up high and highlight your product.
9. If there’s a media center – make a beautiful display there! Freebies go a long way towards making you memorable. It can be small,it can be only literature, it can be actual products, it can be a great canvas tote bag. The one thing I was hoping to find was a notebook and good pen, I’d managed to forget them at home!
10. Press kits – As a blogger I skim some of the more traditional press releases and throw them away. I want bullet points of the top features of your product. I want good images that I can reuse easily (clean, bright, and if it’s not lifestyle, then on a white background). And remember, if this is a big tradeshow, we have to lug it all home with us. The heavier press kits got left behind at the hotel so I could avoid the $75 overweight baggage fee. (It’s a fine line, I want something beautiful and well-made, but easy to take with me.)
I hope these things help you – feel free to ask questions in the comments and I’ll try to answer. Good luck with your next trade show!