If you've ever promoted your company at a trade show, you know how tough it can be to make your booth stand out among the sea of tables. So, we hit up the San Francisco Fancy Food Show (for purely selfless reasons, of course), and asked a few of the yummiest vendors their secrets for getting noticed in a convention center crowd.
"Be prepared! Have a short pitch and a long pitch ready to go so you can have fun telling your story!"—Lindsey Nobles
"It's all in the details. We put a tremendous amount of time and thought into our set up for these events. It's always time consuming, but people notice the creativity behind our display. We wanted to convey a natural and healthy product, so we used wood accents and neutral colors throughout the display. The personality and the people in the booth is just as important, so we send our own staff (not just contracted labor) to all major selling events. We make sure we're always engaging with people walking by, and we have learned that every person at the show is important, no matter what their name tags says." —Heather Brensike
"Pay attention to the details and turn your booth into an environment. Occupy the space in front of your booth to hook people passing by. And make appointments with as many buyers as you can before the show." —Amelia Mayberry
"We talk to everybody the same way—attendees, exhibitors, press, whoever. This helps to keep our booth busy and full of energy. Also, no sitting. Chairs aren't allowed in the booth! We have our booth set up so that people can 'come inside,' so it's a bit more intimate than when a table separates the exhibitor from the curious. Finally, I would say our product design helps—it's full of color, the design is unique, and we wear bright shirts that people seem to like. It helps that we are so different, too!” —Chris Olsen
"Having an exceptional, hot new product always helps to draw people in and grab their attention. When designing our booth, we felt it was important not to overdo it—we wanted it to portray what our product is all about: super premium, gourmet, high-quality oatmeal with a welcoming, kick back, fun, and relaxed feel."—Sheri Price
Blissmo, a frequent attendee at trade shows, comes from the other side of the table. We asked Blissmo's co-founder what catches his eye when he patrols the floor looking for potential partnerships.
"The shows I go to will generally have tons of companies I'm interested in, so I'm usually trying to speed through them as quickly as possible. To that end, it's nice when companies will have a thoughtful brand experience and key points about their product easily viewable, so I can get the scoop without stopping to ask. The look, feel, and layout of your booth is often the first impression your brand will be making on people, so make sure it's telling the right story.
It's also important to have more than one person staffing your booth, as you become pretty unapproachable if there's a line of people waiting to speak to you. Lastly, don't forget the samples—it's really easy to invent a reason to stop and chat when there's good-looking samples involved." —Ian Johnstone