Even with the various new technologies available to bring people together, still one of the most effective ways to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones is that face-to-face meeting. While email correspondence and doing due diligence research are useful, and social media campaigns can create buzz, nothing beats being able to talk with people in person, and being able to see, feel, and demonstrate products in real time.

But that can be hard to do these days, when time is at a premium for everyone.

Enter trade shows.

The relevancy of trade shows

There are numerous marketing tools that suppliers can use to get their name and their products out there, and some might say that using trade shows to do that is antiquated, or just not a good way to spend time, money, and energy. Trade shows are too time-consuming, some say. Trade shows don’t have good ROI, some say. But those people who say these things are misguided, and they’re not looking at the big, human-sized picture that is so essential for CPG.

“The best marketing tactics are educational in nature, and a trade show lets you educate prospects face to face,” writes Henry DeVries for Forbes.

For consumer packaged goods (CPG), trade shows abound, and, writes Kristen Wiley for Statusphere, “If you’re a CPG or food brand, trade shows are the perfect opportunity to introduce your brand and have potential retail buyers get a taste of what makes you special. When you exhibit at a food trade show, you’re able to get in front of national, regional and specialty grocers and retailers. You can also connect with press and influencers to generate buzz about your brand.”

What’s more, trade shows are an economical way to get in front of clients new and old. In a three-day span, you have the opportunity to interact with hundreds or even thousands of people. It would be cost prohibitive for any company to travel to that many individual meetings with prospective partners or to demonstrate new products—DeVries cites the cost of a tete-a-tete at a trade show just under $150, while that same meeting in an office would be around $259.

Trade shows are a crucial part of marketing for CPG companies today. When the competition is already fierce, and growing even more so by the day, having that human interaction is invaluable.

Putting your assets to work

To have a successful trade show experience, it is essential that you, the supplier, are prepared. It’s not simply a matter of filling out your registration form and deciding which size booth you want to rent for the show. There is so much more that goes into it, and if you’re not prepared, you will, in fact, be wasting your time.

Start by doing some research—what kind of trade show is it? How many attendees are expected? Are the people who will be walking the expo floor your typical buyer/consumer? Or is this a new area or segment for you? What do you want to accomplish at this show? Are there specific people you want to meet or talk to while you’re there?

The earlier you can get these types of questions answered, the better off you’ll be as you plan how you’ll best showcase your brand at the trade show. And the critical part of that showcase is the assets you’ll have on hand.

What do we mean by asset? When it comes to trade shows, assets are pretty much anything you use to show who you are, from your booth to the marketing collateral you display, to the technology you use to demonstrate your product to your overall branding.

Your booth is your main asset, and, writes Aaron Inglethorpe for Marketing Week, “Remember: you’ll need to make your booth noticeable if you want to generate any results from your trade show attendance. The average human attention span is now shorter than a goldfish’s, so don’t be afraid of splashing out on reusable equipment for your booth.”

Have any fliers, one-sheeters, business cards, leaflets or—as is often the case in CPG—samples ready for the taking. But, don’t just put out any old thing. Curate what you’re displaying and providing for attendees. Just like you have a tailored brand marketing strategy through social media, trade shows are simply another channel, and need a marketing strategy of their own. Instead of posting about your latest line extension as you might on Facebook or Instagram, you should have that line extension on display and ready to sample as interested parties stop at your booth.  

Understanding which of your assets will work best and generate the most interest at trade shows is what will draw people to you, and keep them there to find out more.

Go forth and trade show! 

Trade shows are just one tool in your marketing arsenal, and they shouldn’t be discounted. In fact, DeVries writes in his Forbes article that in a 10-year lead generation study he conducted, trade shows finished in the top five. That’s a powerful tool, especially when working in concert with your other marketing tools. When you’re prepared and committed, trade shows are the perfect venue for you to show off—your brand, of course.

Are you attending any trade shows this year? Be sure to add them to your RangeMe profile so buyers know you are attending. Update your company details here.

Trade show strategy

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