A view of the industry through the
eyes of independent and chain retailers.
How To Optimize Your Success
at Trade Shows
Make sure you optimize your return
on your trade show investment.
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (January 2, 2012)
Are you prepared to hit the
trade show trail? You've registered, and 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 success:
Do Your Homework Before Your Leave for the Show
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.
Review all pre-show materials sent by the association hosting the
show, and all pre-show materials sent to you by vendors.
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.
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.
Set an open-to-buy or budget, detailing what you can spend at the
show. Include basic and new merchandise categories.
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
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.
Use Post-it® notes to flag important pages and other information in
your show book for future quick reference.
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.
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
with the vendors you need to see.
Carry a small voice recorder and a 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.
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"
Set Appointments with Vendors
Now you are ready to set
appointments with vendors. Set your appointments in this order:
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.
Vendors you work with occasionally. These are the lines that are
building in your store, becoming more important to the growth of
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.
The best time of the day to do 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 rewards.
Ask each vendor how you can best take advantage of show-only
Inquire about unpublished merchandise deals on items that are not on
display at the show.
Ask for show special pricing even if you place your order after the
Request staggered delivery dates throughout the year on basic goods
the vendor is offering show discounts on. 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 convenience.
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 the all 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 Knowledge
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:
What’s the best way to sell this product line? Alone or
cross-merchandised with your, or another vendor's, product?
Who else is selling this merchandise? What are they doing to move
it that's important for me to know as well?
Where should I display this product in my store?
Many vendors have a host of
extras to help you display and sell their products; sometimes they
are readily available and sometimes you have to ask. Bring this list
of questions with you to each booth you visit:
Do you have presentation and display tips for his product or product
Are there racks available to better show and inventory the product
in my store?
Do you have signing or other point-of-purchase materials available
such as QR codes, project sheets, or brochures?
Do you have videos I can use for associate training and for in-store
Do you offer merchandise plan-o-grams?
Do you offer made-up samples for model boards and other in-store
Do you have people who can help with store sets and departmental
Do you have people who can train my staff on how to best use your
Can you recommended designers I can bring in to help during special
Can you recommend an in-store event or other idea I can use to
promote your product and build foot traffic in my store?
Do you have items I can have to use as giveaways and as door prizes
during my special events?
Are there co-op dollars available to help pay for bag stuffers and
other advertising medias used in promoting your product line?
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?
Do you have articles or photographs I can use to promote your line
in my email blasts, newsletter and on my website?
Do you have information, photographs and retailer-friendly links I
can use to promote your line on my social mediums?
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 opportunity!
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
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.
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 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.
Introduce yourself to the people at the trade publications booths.
When you stop to pick up the latest copy, introduce yourself to the
editors and other staff members. They are an invaluable source of
industry information and they want to help you succeed.
Bring a camera and take photos of yourself with every vendor and
VIP you can find. Post them on Facebook, Twitter, and your website.
Frame and hang the photos in your store to increase visibility and
credibility -- customers enjoy seeing you rub shoulders with other
movers and shakers in their favorite industry.
(Editor's note: for
example, CLN has learned that Tori Spelling will attend the CHA show
to promote her jewelry line from Darice. Would your customers be
impressed to see a photo of you and Tori?)
6. 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? But beware! The medias can sniff out bold attempts to get
free publicity so 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
Sign-up on every email and 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.
Bring plenty of business cards -- you don’t want to run out during a
big networking opportunity.
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 group.
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.
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 – 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
Kizer & Bender Seminars at the Winter CHA Show
"Generations of Customers – A Guide to the Shopping Behavior of
Generations X, Y, and Z" (Seminar S111, Sun., Jan. 29, 2:00 – 3:00
Welcome to the age of the NEW
consumer! A younger consumer who demands to be taken seriously; a
consumer who knows his/her way around the Internet and social medias
and is not afraid to use them. It's a whole new ball game and it's
all about the ustomer – any business with customers will be forced
to keep up.
"Advanced Social Media Marketing – For Retailers" (Seminar 119,
Mon., Jan. 30, 12 noon – 1:30 pm.)
Social Media Marketing is a
game-changer; it gives you the ability to run circles around your
competition – if you know how to use it. You may be up and running
on Facebok, Twitter, and other social media sites, but are you doing
all you can to get the most out of your social media platform?
"Cause Marketing for Retailers: Promotions That Grow Your Community
and Sales" (Seminar S129, Tues., Jan. 31, 2:00 – 3:00 pm)
As retailers, you used to merely
compete for the customers' wallet; that's why you host one to three
in-store events each month. The goal of each event is to build
traffic and sell more stuff. Today, you not only compete for the
customers' wallet, but for their hearts as well. That's why some of
events on your promotional calendar need to focus on Cause
To register, visit
About Rich KIZER & Georganne BENDER
Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender
are professional speakers, authors and consultants whose client list
reads like a "Who's Who" in business. Companies internationally
depend upon them for timely advice on consumers and the changing
retail market place.
KIZER & BENDER made Meetings
& Conventions magazine's list of "Meeting Planners Favorite
Keynote Speakers"; they've also been named "Two of Retailing's Most
Influential People." And with good reason: Rich and Georganne are
experts on generational diversity, consumer trends, marketing and
promotion, and everything retail. They are widely referred to as
consumer anthropologists because they stalk and study that most
elusive of mammals: today's consumer.
KIZER & BENDER are well known
for their unique and intensive consumer research. Any speaker can
talk about customers, but Georganne and Rich actually become them.
In addition to yearly 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 you can use to
better serve your own customers.
KIZER & BENDER's observations
are widely featured in the medias, including the ABC News special
report "How Stores Hook You." Their books Champagne Strategies on a
Beer Budget! and Jingle Bells... Christmas Sells" have helped
thousands of retailers improve their bottom line, and their by-
lined column, Georganne & Rich on the Road was twice honored with
The American Society of Business Publication Editors Award of
Since 1989, KIZER & BENDER's
presentations have blended brilliant content with colorful examples,
humor and insight. You'll learn while you laugh! And you'll come
away with inspiration, strategies, tactics, tips and techniques you
can use the second you return to your business!
Where to find KIZER & BENDER:
103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206,
St. Charles, Illinois 60174
Phone: 630-513-8020 | 24/7 Mobile: 708-347-2682 Fax: 630-513-8098
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