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5 Tricks of the New Trade Show

5 Tricks of the New Trade Show

There’s a palpable excitement around food shows being live again. This year especially, it can pay to show up in a bigger way.

It’s sizzle time.

1. Find the right shows for your brands.

You already know to go where your customers will be. To that, add something new – an element of the unexpected – to your approach. This applies to the selection of shows themselves: How will your brand proposition cut through the crowds?

A Smattering of This Year’s National Shows

Coffee Fest
New York: March 6-8
Chicago: June 24 & 25
Los Angeles: August 28-30
PNW/Seattle: October 7 & 8

Natural Products Expo West
Anaheim, California: March 8-12

National Restaurant Association Show
Chicago: May 21-24

National Confectioners Association Sweets & Snacks Expo
Chicago: May 23-26

Fancy Food Show
New York City: June 12-14

NACUFS National Conference
Spokane, Washington: July 13-16

Las Vegas: October 1-4

Add Your Local Options!
Regional distributor shows: ______

2. Make your message stick.

First up is an in-depth Brand Experience Plan. Narrow to an audience of one, per show, to ensure your message is razor-refined.

Consider your brand ambassadors as one of your key targets. After all, they’ll be representing your brand essence to potential buyers.

Build a customer experience kit to help ambassadors replicate what your brand feels like when interacting with prospective buyers. Include guidelines for enhancing everything from booth setup to atmosphere – so you can uphold the gold standard of consistency across various venues.


3. Frame your brand assets for maximum impact.

You have mere seconds to attract attendees’ attention on the floor.

In addition to an eye-catching backdrop, there’s an art to scaling all the elements of your design system to fit the unique blueprint of each show.

  • Work with a trusted partner for a design that makes people stop and visit
  • Consider how to effectively repurpose assets from show to show
  • Add customized and interactive additions for each audience
  • Incorporate video and other media that can be teased out pre- and post-show


4. Make your sampling more meaningful.

At the heart of the tradeshow is connection. Between sales rep and prospect. Between customer pain points and your brand’s solution. And nothing gets to the heart of the matter better than samples – especially when you’re selling food.

Use targeted sampling to draw interested prospects back to your booth and away from your competitors’.

  • Daypart-out your sample program. Offer breakfast items one day, lunch the next, and dinner the next (if multiple days) or segment out your main show day into three “meals.”
  • Offer a hidden menu that customers can only access when they make a return trip to the booth in a few hours, or the next day.
  • Include a memorable takeaway to keep your brand top of mind when attendees empty their bags back home.


5. Don’t forgo digital.

Even at a live show, the virtual space surrounds you. Embrace this melding of in-person and on-screen strategies because it’s here to stay:

  • Maximize the show’s virtual booth space, if applicable
  • Update your digital property with relevant content for attendees who click through
  • Post show updates, video, and other relevant content on social properties
  • Evaluate potential return on additional show sponsorship opportunities, such as:
    • Targeted emails
    • Email banner ads
    • Website banner ads
    • Retargeted advertising
    • Advertising in online show planning materials

Then … the show’s over, and your work is done! OK, we all know that post-event is when the real sales solidify: plugging new contacts into your lead-gen system to establish an effective follow-up cadence. Measuring. Analyzing. Repeating. Making it sizzle, show after show.

Posted in: Thoughts
February 22, 2022

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