Get the Most Out of Attending Trade Shows – Wildcard Friday

By Exclusive Concepts


Whether it is your first time going to an industry event like IRCE, IRWD, eTail, or or if you are a seasoned veteran of trade shows, it is always important to have a game plan in order to get the most out of your time.

Attending a trade show can sometimes appear daunting, there are so many exhibitors, sessions, networking opportunities that it can seem like too much. It is important to do your research to make sure you are attending the right conferences and plan your time in a manner that will help you get the most out of it.

Why Should You Attend?

Even if your business is new, small, growing, or large the benefits of attending an industry trade show are many. These conferences, whether they be vendor driven or industry associations, are developed to give retailers the opportunity to meet vendors, conduct meetings, and network with vendors and other business owners to learn and get ideas.

Trade shows can be the perfect place for you to:

  • Research new vendors
  • Meeting vendors face to face, seeing their marketing collateral, and speaking to their experts can help you gain trust and get a better idea of what they have to offer.
  • Learn from experts in sessions and on the floor
  • Meet with others in the industry to pass advice and learn

Pre-Show Preparation

Remember those family vacations that were so structured you knew where you had to be and what you were doing every hour on the hour? That’s how your schedule should look when you are planning to attend a trade show.

  • Look at the vendors who will be exhibiting beforehand, and make sure it is worthwhile for you to attend. Read up on them and research who would be a good fit for you to work with. Write down what booths they are at and make a plan of attach to make sure you have time to speak to each one.
    • Knowing what you need – for example is important – if you are looking for a new SEO company, the best thing to do is to research all of the SEO companies that will be there, so you avoid companies that may not offer what you need at this time
  • Make appointments with vendors you know you have to meet with. Call them ahead of time. I know if someone calls us before a conference we usually have something prepared for them when they come to our booth, such as an audit of the service they were interested in. Chances are we have also researched their site so we know more about their business.
  • Pre-register for the show early. Many times shows will offer a discount to those who pre-register. These discounts can go a long way and can be re-allocated to your budget for hotels, food, etc.
  • Make sure you send the right people. Bring people who will benefit from the sessions, meeting with vendors, and who can aid in the decision making process
  • Pre-plan what sessions you will attend. Most conferences provide the tracks they will be offering. Make sure to plan out what you want to attend, what you wouldn’t mind attending, and what you don’t want to attend. That way you can structure your time accordingly.
  • Finally, book your hotel where the organizers have arranged a discount and make your reservations early so you don’t miss out.
  • At the Show

    • Make sure your name badge is plain site
    • Bring plenty of business cards
    • Be outgoing, the more people you talk to, the more you learn
    • Attend the sessions you wanted to go to, keep to your plan
    • Try and spend you time with companies you want to do business with. Try to not waste time with companies that do not offer what you are looking for. However, if you notice a company that you may not have known much about, don’t hesitate to stop by to see if they are a good option.
    • Take good notes about companies and people you have spoken with. It will make your after-show a lot less stressful.

    After the Show

    Review your notes about the vendors you have spoken with. Make time to speak with vendors who made an impact. Look at their collateral, their website, and speak to their team again to complete the conversation you started at the trade show.
    Also, look at your plan of action. Analyze it to see if you got the most out of attending, this will make.
    Exclusive Concepts will be at eTail in Boston August 8-10th at Booth 41, a Patron Sponsor of the Yahoo! Merchant Summit on August 9-10th, and at in September. We look forward to seeing everyone there. Make sure to stop by our booth to learn how we can help you accelerate your revenue without the overhead.