A view of the industry through the
eyes of independent and chain retailers.
How To Optimize Your Success at Trade Shows
Straightforward advice that can make a big
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (January 4, 2010)
Are prepared to hit the trade show trail? You've registered,
booked your travel and hotel, but are you really ready? Each year we
ask successful retailers to share what they do to make each trade
show trip profitable. Here are some of their best secrets of
Do Your Homework Before Your Leave for the Show
1. Review all the show-related advertisements in your
industry trade publications. Note new items, plus vendors you want
to be sure and visit, and their respective booth numbers. Look also
for not-to-be-missed technique classes and business seminars.
2. Review all pre-show materials sent by the association
hosting the show, and all pre-show materials sent to you by vendors.
3. Hold a store meeting to discuss trends, hot items, new
categories, and other things you found in your pre-show research.
Ask your store associates for ideas as well and maybe even key
customers; they will offer a fresh perspective on what to look for
at the show.
4. Carefully examine product and vendor sales histories.
Review both current and committed inventories, so that you don't
accidentally duplicate what is currently still on order.
5. Set an open-to-buy or budget, detailing what you can spend
at the show. Include basic and new merchandise categories.
6. Review all of your homework before you leave for the show
and adjust your goals if necessary.
Things to Do at the Show Before You Work Your First Booth
1. Go through the show book and list all of the vendors you
want to see. List them by booth number, working your way through the
show aisle by aisle. This plan of attack will prevent you from
duplicating your steps, wasting precious time.
2. Use Post-itฎ notes to flag important pages and other
information in your show book for future quick reference.
3. Arrive early on your first day so you can study the show
floor layout. Before you visit your first vendor, make a quick pass
through the entire floor, scanning each booth, noting which ones to
come back and visit later.
Inside Tip! The first day of the show, and during the opening
hours each day, the booths at the front of the show are generally
mobbed with attendees. That's because they are the first thing
people see, so they stop and look around. If you begin at the back
of the show floor, where traffic is generally lighter, you'll enjoy
more quality time with the vendors you need to see.
4. Carry a small cassette recorder and notebook. You'll find
it quick and easy to speak your thoughts into your recorder as you
walk the show floor. Review your spoken notes at your convenience,
recording them in your notebook for future reference.
5. Take note of each item, or line of merchandise, that
catches your eye, adding important details about each one. If the
product still looks good after you review your notes, you can go
back and place your order. This will you prevent placing
"emotions of the moment" orders.
Set Appointments with Vendors
Now you are ready to set appointments with vendors. Set your
appointments in this order:
1. Current vendors. You will want to see these vendors first
to ensure that any, and all, important and on-going merchandise
issues are being properly taken care of.
2. Vendors you work with occasionally. These are the lines
that are building in your store, becoming more important to the
growth of your business.
3. New vendors. Look for new vendors based on your current
and future merchandise needs. Your pre-show homework, plus your
on-site research, will be an invaluable help here.
Inside Tip! The best time of the day to meet with vendors is
during the slowest hours of the show early in the morning and
late in the day. Many shows also allow you to set appointments
during non-show hours, either before or after normal show hours.
Meet with your most important vendors, and those that will require
the most time, during these hours. This tactic will ensure that you
will receive the vendor's undivided time and attention.
Building Partnerships with Your Vendors
Trade show booths are not much different than retail stores. How
do you feel when a new customer walks in your front door? Do you
feel like you have to sell them something? Do you watch them like a
hawk? Of course not, you're glad to see them. Vendors feel are the
same way. It's easy to feel intimidated when entering a new vendor's
booth, but don't be. Look at it as an opportunity to meet new people
who can help you grow your business. You're not getting a root canal
or buying a used car it's okay to be friendly, and it's okay to
look. Even if you don't make a purchase today, you might down the
road. A partnership relationship with your vendors can reap big
1. Ask each vendor how you can best take advantage of
2. Inquire about unpublished merchandise deals on items that
are not on display at the show.
3. Ask for show special pricing even if you place your order
after the show.
Inside Tip! Request staggered delivery dates throughout the
year on basic goods on which the vendor is offering show discounts.
This will allow you to take advantage of the price break without
having to receive, warehouse, and pay for a year's supply of
merchandise in advance of sales. You can pre-write these orders
before you get to the show to save time, and drop them off at your
Trade shows are also more than just a place to buy product. They
provide the perfect opportunity to meet the very people who can help
insure your lasting success. Take time to attend all of the cocktail
parties, open houses, and gala events the association has to offer.
When you meet your vendors socially, you strengthen your
relationship, creating a win/win situation for you both.
Take Advantage of Your Suppliers' Wealth of Sales-Building
Companies spend millions of dollars each year designing ways to
make their product fly off of your store shelves. Take advantage of
this important research! Questions to ask each vendor:
1. What's the best way to sell this product line? Alone or
cross-merchandised with your, or another vendor's, product?
2. Who else is selling this merchandise? What are they doing
to move it that's important for me to know as well?
3. Where should this product be displayed in my store?
Many vendors have a host of extras to help you display and sell
their products; sometimes they are readily available, but sometimes
you have to ask. Bring this list of questions with you to each booth
1. Do you have presentation and display tips for his product
or product line?
2. Are there racks available to better show and inventory the
product in my store?
3. Do you have signing or other point-of-purchase materials
available such as project sheets or brochures?
4. Do you have videos I can uses for associate training and
for in-store play?
5. Do you offer merchandise planograms?
6. Do you offer made-up samples for model boards and other
7. Do you have people who can help with store sets and
8. Do you have people who can train my staff on how to best
use your product?
9. Can you recommended designers I can bring in to help
during special events?
10. Can you recommend an in-store event or other idea I can
use to promote your product and build foot traffic in my store?
11. Do you have items I can have to use as giveaways and as
door prizes during my special events?
12. Are there co-op dollars available to help pay for bag
stuffers and other advertising mediums used in promoting your
13. Are there co-op dollars available to pay for part of my
Yellow Pages ad if I list your product line in the ad copy or
feature your logo?
14. Do you have articles or photographs I can use to promote
your line in my e-mail blasts, newsletter and on my website?
Network, Network, Network!
Whether you are a single store owner, member of a buying group,
or part of a big chain, trade shows provide you with the opportunity
to meet other retailers who are likely to be facing the same
challenges that you face every day what a wonderful networking
1. At classes and seminars, luncheons, association business
meetings, and social gatherings, look for other retailers to compare
notes with. Introduce yourself. Say, "You've got challenges and
I do, too. How can we help each other?" Set a goal to meet
least five new retailers each day. You'll find this network of
non-competing retailers will become an outstanding resource to you
throughout the year.
2. Agree to meet with your networking group at a specified
time at the end of each day to discuss the best things you've each
found at the show. Together, set a goal for each member of the
group: find the best vendor for _____________, look for the best
price on ________________, which vendors will provide help with
upcoming promotional events, etc.
3. Keep your group together after the show and agree to get
together at all future shows. You can also set up monthly meetings
with your network. You be the one to take charge and make it happen.
Choose one morning every month for all be on a conference call.
Share what's new, hot, and happening in your stores. You can even
chose a "Challenge of the month" to be discussed at the
next teleconference meeting.
4. Bring a camera and take photos of yourself with every
vendor and VIP you can find. Hang them in your store to increase
visibility and credibility customers will enjoy seeing you rub
shoulders with other movers and shakers in their favorite industry!
5. When you return home, send out press releases to go along
with the photos you took at the show. Newspapers are hungry for
news, but they're starving for pictures. Did you know that almost
80% of news that appears on a local level comes from a one-page
press release sent in by someone like you? Beware! The media can
sniff out bold attempts to get free publicity; you have to know how
to do it right. If you'd like specific instructions on how to write
press releases that get noticed, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
for your free copy.
More Trade Show Success Tips
1. Sign-up on every mailing list you can find - to stay one
step ahead of your competition, you need to know about new product
releases, applications, and industry goings-on before they do.
2. Bring plenty of business cards; you don't want to run out
during a big networking opportunity.
3. Just before you leave for the show, take a fresh batch
store photos, both inside and out. These will come in handy during
discussions with vendors, seminar leaders, and with your networking
4. Review your trade show experience on the plane ride home.
Did you meet the goals you set before you left town? Note anything
you will need to follow up on at a later date.
5. Immediately schedule a store meeting to discuss what you
saw while it's still fresh in your mind. Brainstorm ideas to display
and sell all the new goods that will begin to arrive shortly.
Trade shows are a solid investment in your future if you approach
them correctly. They take you out of your daily routine and
stimulate your thinking process. You are exposed to new products and
applications and you get to meet new people all good things that
are destined to help make even more successful than you already are.
K&B SEMINARS AT THE CHA WINTER SHOW
1. The $1.99 An Idea Luncheon, Sun., Jan. 24, 12:30 - 2:00
pm, Room 208AB.
Back by popular demand and hosted by Rich Kizer & Georganne
Bender, The $1.99 An Idea Luncheon is just the place to learn, laugh
and win money! Join Rich and Georganne for an informative,
fun-filled program that puts you in the spotlight your 15
minutes of fame!
Have you longed to host the door spinning in-store events you've
heard Georganne and Rich share at seminars? Do you want to be next
to hold an event envied by creative retailers across the country?
Would you like to have at least one no-cost, low-cost in-store event
penciled in each and every month on your promotional calendar?
Share your store's best success ideas with other CHA members:
Have you run a promotion that drew customers to your store in
droves? Great! Share your idea and line your pockets with $1.99. How
about a unique display technique that sells product so fast you
can't keep it in stock? Cool! Share your idea and win a $1.99. Have
you discovered the way to your associates' hearts? We're all ears
and you'll be a $1.99 richer.
Nourish your wallet and your mind! Your imagination will go into
overdrive as you share the ideas you've used on your path to
success. The $1.99 An Idea Luncheon promises to be an insightful and
profitable event you can't afford to miss!
2. First Out of the Gate: In-Store Events to Drive Sales in
the 1st & 2nd Quarters, Mon., Jan.25, 12:00-1:00 pm, Room 208AB.
Described this way: "EVERYTHING You Need to Run In-Store
Events that Build Sales and Increase Traffic!
At CHA Summer 2009, Rich and Georganne shared enough
traffic-building, door-spinning, no-cost, low-cost events to fill
your promotional calendar for the months of September through
January. This seminar comes full circle with even more
sales-building, in-store events and promotions for the rest of the
This seminar promises to be a storehouse of insider tricks of the
trade and practical suggestions on how to spin the doors in your
store! You'll learn retailer-tested, tried and true major and minor
in-store events and promotions, including marketing ideas and PR
plans for each month in the first and second quarters. You'll
receive a Promotional Planning Calendar you'll fill in as we go
along plus all of the how-to instructions, ad slicks, templates,
store meeting notes, and more you'll need to thrill your customers
and drive your competition crazy.
This seminar is the next best thing to having KIZER & BENDER
working in your store! Get ready for some crowd control: Retail
Sales Building Events for the 1ST & 2nd Quarter Calendar is
loaded with "Non-stop Traffic-Building, Profit-Producing,
Attention-Grabbing, Sales-Generating, Competition-Miffing,
Customer-Winning Retail Promotions you just can't afford to miss!"
3. Social Media Lab: Learn the Steps to Join the
Conversation, Tues., Jan. 26, 12:00-1:30 pm, Room 208AB.
Have you heard the buzz term, "Social Media" but you're
not sure what it means? Are your kids and customers using Facebook
and Twitter, but you're not sure how you can use them to promote
your business? Or, do you want to be on Facebook and Twitter, but
you just need help to setup accounts?
If you answered "Yes" to any one of these questions,
then plan to attend CHA's Social Media Lab! Georganne Bender will
show you step by step how to be part of the conversation; you'll
A) What's the difference between Facebook and Twitter? Which
should you use?
B) How to join Facebook; Do you need a personal, business or
fan page? How many "friends" are too many? What's the
difference between the "Wall" and my Profile?
C) How to create a Twitter account: What should your account
name be? Who should you follow and who should follow you? What does
that "@" sign mean?
D) Who, What, When: To whom am I talking? What am I saying?
When am I saying it?
Bring your laptop loaded with photos, and join this hands-on
session to leave with both a Facebook and Twitter account created
for your business. (Note: laptop is not required, but
recommended, to participate. Computers will not be supplied.)
To register for the CHA show and sign up for workshops and
seminars, visit www.chashow.org.
(Note: Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are professional
speakers, retail strategists, authors, and consultants whose client
list reads like a "Who's Who" in international business.
Retailers depend upon KIZER & BENDER for timely advice on
consumers and the ever changing retail market place.
Named "Two of Retailing's Most Influential People,"
KIZER & BENDER are experts on consumer and generational
diversity, marketing and promotion, and everything retail. They are
widely referred to as retail anthropologists because they stalk and
study that most elusive of mammals: today's consumer.
Any speaker can talk about customers, but Georganne and Rich
actually become them. In addition to focus groups, one-on-one
interviews, and intensive on-site studies, their research includes
posing as every kind of customer you can imagine and maybe even
a few that you can't! The result of their research is literally
straight from the customers' mouth: solid, ground-level intelligence
that you can use today to better serve your own customers and build
KIZER & BENDER Speaking!
Keynotes | Seminars | Consulting | Store Design
103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206, St. Charles, Illinois 60174
Phone: 630-513-8020 | 24/7
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