If you work in the natural foods space, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an industry trade show more impactful than Natural Products Expo West. At this highly-anticipated annual event which convenes in sunny Anaheim, California, this week you’ll find a conglomeration of elite food brands, up and comers, buyers, and a bounty of business, consumer, and trade media. On one hand, this show provides you with the unmatched opportunity to be among disruptive companies who are leading the change in innovating how consumer goods are made. On the other hand, among a sea of nearly 3,100 exhibitors, it can be challenging to stand out from the pack. Below we’ve assembled some essential tips which we hope will aid you in getting the most value out of your Expo West experience.
When in doubt, plan ahead
If you’re a brand exhibiting at the show, it’s crucial to have a plan for how you will merchandise your product/s and get people to your booth. Go into the show with a solid idea of the most important news and information you intend to share with visitors and have printed sell sheets ready for passersby to take home with them, as well as plenty of samples for a full immersion into your product. At a show with this volume of attendees, you might consider seeking additional support to staff the booth, chat with media, and serve as an extension of the brand. Have a plan for your allotted badges and who might be good to have along with any extras you receive. Think of any supplemental materials you’ll be distributing to guests— press kits or business cards —and fully assemble all items in advance. Make sure to bring a large number to the show— you will use them.
If you’re on the PR side of the business, be sure to download and get familiar with the trade show media list as soon as it becomes available. Starting outreach far in advance is always smart, given that media is often inundated with emails in the weeks leading up to the show. Keep your message short and simply invite media to stop by your booth to check out anything new or exciting you have to offer. Create a schedule and be ready to wrangle media by watching for their designated badges as they walk by the booth.
With so much happening on the trade show floor, it can be challenging to conduct real business. During booth appointments, expect to have little to no elbow room and know that with the swarms of people passing by, things get loud. Consider planning additional breakfast or dinner meetings, off the show floor, or treat the show as a meet-n-greet and set a time and date to speak in the near future. Booking booth appointments back to back throughout the entirety of the show with people who are very distracted by everything they are taking in at the show is bound to exhaust you. Instead, plan some breaks and take time to walk the show and check out any emerging trends, interesting new developments or your competition. Pro tip: wear comfy shoes because there’s tons of ground to cover.
Given the sheer size of this show, members of your team are bound to separate for one reason or another; bringing a walkie talkie or starting a group text message thread to communicate onsite is extremely helpful— don’t forget to pack a phone charger as your battery is bound to die before the day is through! Preparing a briefing sheet for your team containing addresses, phone numbers. and a map can help minimize confusion day of to navigate meetings and other activities.
Beyond coordinating communication among team members, you must also consider the overall cohesiveness of your team. Is everyone wearing the same branded gear? Does everybody working the booth talk about the products and news in the same way? Does everyone know who takes point on sales meetings, media interviews, etc.? And do all staffers know how to handle anyone who approaches the booth with questions they don’t know how to answer?
When executed properly, a trade show like Expo West has the potential to truly move the needle when it comes to garnering attention from media and increasing buyer demand. Be sure to keep this top of mind throughout the weekend and prepare yourself for a seamless Expo West experience. Remember, when it’s three full days of networking, selling, and sampling— it’s a marathon, not a sprint!