Contributed Column

Creative Intelligence

How to leverage new trends as an exhibitor at a trade show

by Erik Glitman

Trade shows remain one of the most effective marketing tools available to businesses seeking to expand. New and emerging trends first show up at trade shows and allow small players to exert a real impact on the market.

Trade shows that are limited to buyers only, such as the Global Pet Show in Orlando, Fla., or the Sweets and Snacks show in Chicago, offer unique opportunities for Vermont businesses to showcase how their products are leaders in new trends and gain global buyer audiences.

A large trade show can have over 1,500 exhibitors, each trying to get as much attention, and business, as possible. For a Vermont company that is leading a trend, this gives a great opening to differentiate. In a typical show, the majority of exhibitors show what they think the market already wants. The established players have deep incentives to do what they already do. As an example, at the Global Pet show, a key trend was emergence of organic and natural pet products. One of the companies at Global Pet 2015 stood out because it sources 90 percent of its ingredients within 50 miles of its processing plant. This made it unique as one of the only exhibitors committed to sourcing local ingredients. Exhibitors who showcased their organic and natural products demonstrated that they were on top of trends and were adding innovation.

Regardless of the size or location of a trade show, it is important to get the best possible return on your investment. When leveraging new trends, you need to stand out from the crowd. Successful trade show exhibitors do this through a range of different tools and techniques. To help you earn the most from your efforts, here are eight ways to get attention at a show.

  1. Have Vermont-based and trend-based swag. Giveaways that remind attendees you’re from Vermont and are in tune with the latest trends are good and remind purchasers that Vermont is a leader in some trends.
  2. Offer product samples. When your product is leading the trend, samples are the best way to get people to try the product. Linking the sample to Vermont provides an added benefit.
  3. Showcase the trend. Attendees want to see something new and different. When your product is leading a trend, make sure attendees can find you and see the product.
  4. Stress cleanliness. If you’re showing a trendy new food product, be sure that the area around it looks clean and hygienic. A messy booth is a sign of a messy company.
  5. Have a unique booth. Trade shows can limit the size of your booth, but that still leaves freedom to design Vermont themes into the booth. If your booth stands out, attendees will notice and are more likely to visit with you.
  6. Be engaging. When an attendee is looking at your booth, have a conversation. Step out from the booth and interact with people passing by. One could be a buyer.
  7. Incorporate action! A lively booth is one people want to visit. Show your product’s difference. Demonstrate how your product and service exemplify the emerging trends with real examples.
  8. Follow up. If you have a great conversation with an attendee during the show, follow up that day with a short email, or take the conversation off the show floor and close the deal right there.

Overall, the businesses that stand out the most at trade shows are the ones that are enthusiastic about their products and have the in-depth knowledge to explain them to anyone. •

Erik Glitman is the CEO of Fletcher /CSI in Williston (www.fletchercsi.com).

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