Six Steps to a Successful Tradeshow

For those not in the loop, we posted recently about how tradeshows, conventions, and expos can be a great freesource for pet store owners looking to improve their offerings, their acumen, their marketing, and their business. They give you a leg upon local competition that don’t invest the time or money (travel/lodging) and miss out on the opportunity (especially if you sign up for a free 30 minute marketing audit with us!). If you don’t want to miss posts like these when they come out, give us a follow and join our free community for pet store owners.

We’re going to add on that today with our six steps to a successful tradeshow, ensuring that you get the most out of your expo experience whether it’s at Global, SuperZoo, PetConnections, or otherwise. Let’s jump right in.

Six Steps to a Successful Tradeshow

Plan Ahead

At Pet Engine Marketing, we’re definitely a team of planners. We like to plan our content weeks and months in advance, getting ahead of the curve and using tools and organizers to make life easier on us.

Same principles apply to when it comes to tradeshows. Maybe there’s one or two local expos that you can check out, while spending a bit more money on a bigger one that might be further away. Go where your competitors aren’t.

Don’t wait till the last minute to get your travel plans sorted. Flights and hotels will have cheaper rates months in advance. All in all, if you plan ahead when it comes to your tradeshows, you’ll save time and money and won’t be feeling scrambled when you don’t want to be.

Do Your Homework

We might by piggybacking off the “plan ahead” mantra with this one, but doing your homework before you get to the tradeshow can help make your experience more successful. As a pet store owner, you should know what you and your pet store need.

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Check out who’s sponsoring, speaking and exhibiting. Pick a few people (individuals, not just companies) who you know will be attending, and make it your goal to meet with them. Trade shows can be an expensive, overwhelming waste of time or a great opportunity to connect with customers or partners. A handful of key meetings can produce a great return and justify the trade show expense.

Some of these tradeshows can be so massive that it’s impossible to see everything and everybody - use your time wisely and make sure you hit the necessities before wandering! It’s easy to walk several miles over a few days at a show like Global Pet Expo.

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Schedule Meetings

Reach out to industry experts, vendors, and conference organizers in advance. Introduce yourself and ask them for a few minutes of their time while you’re at the conference.

Stand out from the crowd by doing some research on the exhibitors you’d like to connect with and sending them a quick note prior to the show. At pet industry tradeshows specifically, it’s a great way to get build better business partnerships, get better deals, and get an advance on product in case it sells out quickly.

Stay Organized

You have an opportunity to meet a lot of people. It can be overwhelming and hard to keep track of. Luckily, there are a plethora of cool apps for smartphones that allow you to take pictures of business cards and quickly turn that information into an Excel file.

There’s no way to keep track of all those new contacts without a system. We use Google Docs spreadsheets and list key information for each contact (name, title, email, status, interesting facts, etc). It’s a good idea to make note of where and when you met as well to be able to jog peoples memories. A creative way to do it would be to send an email immediately after meeting them, or snagging a quick photo and using that as well!

Use whatever system works best for you to stay organized. And stick to it.

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Make the Most of Every Moment

Don’t get stuck on your phone or sitting in conference sessions all day. Remember to bring lots of business cards, and stay stocked with coffee or tea if that’s your thing. Be social. The more open you are to striking up conversations, the more doors you’ll open for your pet store.

Pet product manufacturers love the opportunity to get their products into your hands and into your store. Being engaged, personable, and enthusiastic increases the chances of getting better deals for your store or more free samples for your fur family at home. It’s a win-win for both sides.

There are wonders abound at these conventions, let your curiosity take over and stay open to making new contacts and deals.

Follow Ups

If it’s your goal to build relationships, meet people, and grow your pet store, then these tips will absolutely help you do that. But that’s just the beginning. On your travels back home, write a personalized email to every contact - this is why it’s great to keep notes on when and where you met them! Briefly rehash your meeting and let them know how you envision a business relationship in the future. Send emails that are friendly, personal and short, and watch the replies fly in!

Conclusion

Tradeshows, expos, and conventions like Global, SuperZoo, and PetConnections are a huge opportunity for pet store owners and retailers, but only if you take what’s offered! They are the best places to strengthen your business with so many people, companies, and products conveniently in one location.

Want us to utilize everything we learn at these pet expos for your benefit? It’s like you attend and reap the rewards, except you don’t spend any money and we do it for you! Our Pet Engine clients have benefited greatly from our attendance at these expos, coming back with fresh ideas, products, and connections to make more customers happy! Give us a call and let’s see what we can drum up.