Greetings from Park City, Utah. I will share my three takeaways on trade shows in the hiking, biking, and outdoor industry.
Hi, I'm Brice Sokolowski, the founder, and CEO of Vaucluse Gear, an outdoor backpacking company that is all about exploring more and sweating less. I have come to Park City, which you can see behind me, to attend the Big Gear Show. A fantastic event where hundreds, I mean hundreds of different gear companies are here to display and come and show what's going on to media retailers. I am also showing them our products even though we are way smaller than everyone else. I had a few takeaways from my first ever trade show, and if anybody out there is ever wondering, “should I ever do a trade show,” here are my three takeaways from displaying our product, the Cool-Dry Frame, which helps backpackers sweat less.
You attach the frame to any backpack, and you sweat less. But I digress.
So let me share. I wrote down my three takeaways.
Trade Show Lesson #1 - Location
First and foremost, location, location, location. It's very important where you are located. I can see some tents have a lot less foot traffic than others. If you're in the middle, it's great. In my situation, my tent was located next to the bathroom, which works great. Make sure, I've learned, to not stop anybody that's walking towards the bathroom, but walking away, they usually are saying hi. So I'm getting tons of foot traffic to my booth, and people are talking. So location is very important.
Trade Show Lesson #2 - Display
Number two is to pay attention to your display. Just walking around and seeing what the big guys are doing compared to the little guys, I'm noticing (and right there, you've done your brand strategy analysis - so you don't have to spend tens of thousands of dollars) the big guys have very simple color schemes. There's not a lot of confusion with a lot of colors nor many products thrown in front. It's almost simplistic how they do things. So be conscious of your display and the colors that you're using. Everything makes a difference. You don't have to have everything. So just being conscious of what you're displaying makes a huge difference.
Trade Show Lesson #3 - Smile and Presence
Third, if not the most important thing is to make sure that you smile and that you're standing. I recommend not under your tent, but in front, in front. If you've got a table, stand in the front where people are walking and just smile and get to know people.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I've had great conversations where I'm not pushy about how great my product is. I just tell them the story. I smile. I hear who they are and why they're here.
Trade Show Lesson #4 - Get People's Contact Details
Last but not least, in part of the smile, I could say, or maybe this is the bonus tip, to ensure you get their contact information. Sure, it's great and feels good just to meet all these people and say, wow, there's a lot is going on in the outdoor space or a trade show, but make sure you get those contact information, emails, phone numbers, websites, take pictures of people, take pictures of their badges. You will want to follow up with people afterward. All the deals, partnerships, and orders don’t always happen on location.
Those are my recommendations for trade shows. My first trade show at least, and I look forward to my next! See you at the next trade show.