NRA Show Tips
There are many things you can do to get the most out of your trip to the NRA show but I’m just going to focus on the ones that should help you to get the most from attending the event. A lot of people make the mistake of not being properly prepared before, during, and after the show. So, let’s talk through some of the most critical tips to remember for each phase of your NRA Show journey. Regardless of whether or not you will have a booth at the show or you’re just an attendee, these tips are best practices to follow for a successful event.
Before the Show
Among the most important trade show tips is to plan ahead and give yourself considerable time to do so. The decisions and preparations you make prior to the show will set the stage for the success you have from attending the show. So, be sure to consider these tips carefully.
Select the Right Trade Show to Attend
Planning begins with the decision on which show to attend. The show should be in line with the main focus of your business or organization. If you are in the foodservice industry, whether it be foodservice manufacturing and supply, the restaurant business, dining services, or resorts, the major trade show is that of the National Restaurant Association. The show, which takes place from May 20 to 23 this year, attracts thousands in the foodservice business from around the United States and significant guests from countries around the world.
Select the Right People to Attend
Ensure that the people at your booth are senior members of your staff who know all the answers to the questions that the show attendees might raise. They should be empowered to be able to offer special services to meet a potential client’s needs or to present attractive promotions. They should be engaging, outgoing and personable. If you are attending the National Restaurant Association trade show, for example, those at your booth should know the foodservice industry and the association well in addition to your company’s role in it.
Ensure the people attending the show are also senior members of your staff. This is critical especially when you’re not exhibiting and only attending. The people you send to the NRA Show should be seasoned and/or have a seasoned mentor with them. The purpose for attending the NRA Show as an attendee is to develop relationships and make connections; therefore, it’s important to choose people that are good at networking and building relationships.
Set Up Meetings in Advance
Don’t attend the NRA Show with the hopes of getting all kinds of new business on the fly. Be prepared. Identify manufacturers, vendors, operators, etc. that you want to meet with ahead of time and reach out to them before the show to schedule a brief meeting time. Make sure what you have to offer meets their needs and speak to those needs to nail down a meeting.
Devise a Plan of Attack
Design and Build the Booth in Advance
Start early by putting a lot of effort into designing and building the booth in line with the show’s overall concept, ensuring it reflects your brand and your line of business.
Hold meetings with those who will attend the booth so that they are aware of all aspects of your company that you will be presenting at the show.
Identify a Reason for Attendees to Stop by Your Booth
You might offer samples, discount coupons, fun contests, touch-screen tests, free coffee, stickers or other attractions to persuade people to stop and take a look.
When they are there, you want to find a way to obtain their telephone numbers, email addresses or other methods of follow-up. One way is to have them sign up for your newsletter or to request more information that might be applicable to their needs.
Design a Booth that will Stand Out
A good booth design is a significant element in attracting people. Flashing signs or vibrant colors might be appropriate in some cases, depending on your brand and the nature of your products or services. Above all, try to make the design stand out from the rest. Remember, first impressions are all-important. You might also want to invite people to attend your booth in advance. Offer an incentive for them to do so and they will make sure they seek you out at the show.
Plan Your Show Experience
If you’re just an attendee of the show, your method of attack will differ from those that have booths. You will be working the show floor meeting people and looking of potential new customers. Take some time to think through who your target audience is and then study the floor plan and events that are happening to make sure you know the places you need to be in order to make the most of your experience. Again, don’t forget to set up meetings in advance!
During the Show
Arrange to Speak at the Show
If possible, talk to the organizers about delivering a presentation at the show. An engaging talk will turn you into an authority on your topic and boost your trade show presence. Don’t forget to link in information attendees can get from your booth (if you’re exhibiting) or offer ways to connect with you and your company.
Offer FREE Giveaways
Everyone loves free stuff! Give people a reason to want to stop by your booth. When they stop to get their free gift you will have the opportunity to tell them more about your company. So, make sure you know what you want to say in a short amount of time because you may not have long to grab their attention with what your company can do for them.
Stick to Your Plan of Attack
Avoid being tempted to change your plan of attack halfway through the show. Keep to what you planned to do and, if necessary, do it better. Obviously, there will be times when you need to alter your plans; however, try to stick to your plan so that you have a successful outcome.
Avoid placing only sales people at your booth. The idea of a booth is to inform and to build relationships rather than to sell; the sales should follow later. Knowledgeable people who can talk with authority are more appropriate than people who can clinch a quick sale. They explain how the company works and what it can do for each inquirer.
The same goes for attendees you send to the show. Don’t just send your sales reps because they won’t be the only ones your potential customer will have relationships with on a regular basis. Consider the different areas and people that will be developing long-term relationships with your potential customers and determine your attendee list based on that information as well.
Key Takeaway – The purpose is to build relationships, not to sell. Relationships are what lead to the sell.
Obtain Contact Info
When you collect information, such as emails or telephone numbers, ensure you have a method of recording it. The best way to do this is to take action right when you get the info. You can enter it on your computer or get an app for your smartphone that allows you to capture business card information (i.e. CamCard). In each case, record details from your conversation to make your follow up personal.
After the Show
Follow Up on Your Leads
When the show is over, your work really begins. You need to respond to those names and contact information you have gathered within a day or two while everything is still fresh on their mind. You might want to parcel out some contacts to specific staffers, depending on the nature of the inquiries or interest.
In some cases, you will have only email addresses. Respond to them with useful information and questions. Invite them to email you back; remember you are building relationships. To encourage them to do so, include links inviting them to request a demonstration or to download a case study, for example.
Don’t forget to connect with them on social media too. Connect with the on LinkedIn and Twitter. Add them to specific lists on Twitter to keep them fresh on your mind.
Research where possible the people whose telephone numbers you have obtained and the companies they represent. When you call them, avoid trying to obtain direct sales immediately; ask for their feedback from the show and discuss your products or services with them. The sales cycle can be a long process so don’t get discouraged if you don’t make a sale right away. Remember, one of your main goals is to develop relationships.
By following these NRA show tips you can make your attendance into an event to remember that, over time, produces strong sales results. These trade show tips can be applied to just about any trade show you attend so make sure to put them into play whenever you attend a trade show.
We’ll also be attending the NRA Show…so if you would like to set up time with us, click here!
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