Let's face the facts: trade shows are a lot of work and they can be costly, but is the pay-off worth it? Let's cover 4 impactful benefits you are sure to gain from attending a trade show, whether you are early-stage and launching a new product to the market or just looking for opportunities to increase your brand awareness.
Side note: before booking a booth at a trade show, do your research! There are an overwhelming amount of trade shows in Canada to choose from, so spend your time and resources wisely and choose the events that will align the most with your product category.
1. It Builds Connection
Think of ways you can expand your distribution and growth. For early-stage CPG companies, invest your energy in trade shows that are specific to your industry and then use this time to network. Bring someone along from your team who can focus on making new connections with other leaders in the CPG market, such as other vendors and contractors. For example, Restaurant Canada's Food Service and Hospitality event is tailored specifically to restaurant owners and managers and provides potential opportunities for your product to distribute in a new space.
Embrace opportunities for collaboration with other attendees. Perhaps you can partner up with another brand and do a giveaway. Exchange contact information with other organizations and community initiatives in attendance and plant the seed for potential partnerships, which will help to grow your company's impact.
2. You Are Making Face-to-Face Sales
Trade shows allow you to have a space that can resemble a short-term storefront and is one of the rare occurrences you can interact directly with new customers. Whether it is selling your product in-person or increasing e-commerce leads with your mailing list, this is will be the first-time for many customers to get to know your brand and the entrepreneur behind the product. It allows you to sell your product with a personalized approach, learn more about your customer base, and you can make a long-lasting impression for repeat customers.
Here are some tips on increasing face-to-face sales at a trade show: offer an exclusive discount or a show-specific incentive for customers who attend the event. Alternatively, if you have a new product ready to launch, consider debuting it at the show so attendees have the opportunity to try it first! Throw in a business card, sign each visitor up to your mailing list, and don't forget to advertise on your social media channels, which may help to bring in customers who are already intrigued by your brand in the area. This is also another perfect reason to bring along an extra hand or two for the show! The more team members you have, the more networking and content creation opportunities you will have while you are there.
3. Learn About Your Competitors
Consumer-packaged goods can be a competitive industry and it's imperative to stay innovative as your brand evolves. When you are at a trade show, don't spend all of your time at your booth if you can help it. Enjoy the show and become inspired by other brands who are pushing their potential. You can learn new developments about your industry, learn new branding techniques, and scope out what your competitors are doing so you can adapt certain techniques into your own business plans in a way that will make your product stand-out.
Not only will you have the chance to make sales, but you are in the thick of the industry where you can gauge what works or doesn't based on your competitors. Engage and initiate in conversations and learn from each other one-to-one as entrepreneurs in a challenging industry.
4. Showcase The Creative Side of Your Brand
Position yourself as a leader in the industry and have fun with your marketing efforts! Again, this is a time when you get to build on the personality of your brand and showcase what you offer directly to the consumer. Create eye-catching promotional materials, generate social media content that displays you being active in your community, and engage with event coordinators early. Be strategic about where you place your logo and brand name on your booth and make your online contact information, from social media handles to your website, highly visible.
Typically event organizers will also highlight select vendors to create buzz around the show and you won't want to miss out on being featured. Prepare your marketing materials in advance, as there may be a quick turn-around, and get in contact with event organizers as soon as possible. It will increase your likelihood of being spotlighted when you send them everything they need in a professional and timely manner, plus it shows that you are eager and ready to do the work for your brand.
Conclusion: While trade shows can be expensive and time-consuming, if done effectively it will result in raising your brand awareness. In order to have a successful brand and product, it often requires entrepreneurs to hit the ground running and go directly to where the customer is. Having accessible options for clients that prefer in-person purchases will not only help you to further your reach, but also offer an invaluable amount of insight into the CPG industry so you can continue on the path of being a successful and innovative entrepreneur.
Planning to attend a trade show? Use this handy checklist from Crestline to stay organized:
By Jess Arcand, Community Coordinator at Venturepark Labs