“Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.”

–William Bernbach


Last week at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, there were a countless number of exhibitors vying for the attention of attendees. Some exhibitors nailed it, while others failed miserably.

In the course of 3 days, I met some talented entrepreneurs with great show presence who seemed to dominate the show. From having engaging staff members in the booth, delivering dynamic speeches at seminars, to appearing professional & credible, they were a cut above the rest.

I spent time with 5 entrepreneurs in particular with great presence and representation and asked them to give any tips for entrepreneurs looking to dominate a trade show.

Let’s see what they have to say…

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Darren Dennington

Service with Style Hospitality Group

“How I feel you dominate a trade show is to have energy in your booth. Have people that are outgoing, bubbly, and engaging.

A divider between the attendee and exhibitor does not work, so you want an open aisle that guests can easily come in and interact with you or your staff.

Work to start a short conversation; it’s not just about getting leads. We have conversations where we’re zoning in on the right people to talk to and finding their interest.

You have about a second and a half to capture someone’s attention, and they often look past you because there’s so much going on, so you want to capture their interest in the first second and a half.”

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Miller Townsend

HoneyBlaze

“A tip for new and upcoming entrepreneurs going to a food show is you want to come prepared. If it’s your first time, make sure you’re comfortable with your booth, and you’re comfortable with what you’re doing.

You may have a lot of great ideas, but make sure you test those ideas first.

It’s better to be simple and look very professional than to have a bunch of ideas or bring things you think are cool, but are not able to be done a hundred percent. That just makes you look unprofessional.

Keep it simple, and the simplicity makes you look professional.”

Gregg Hopkins

Gregg Hopkins

Hobout

“Shows are great for the entrepreneur, if nothing else, to resonate your concept or your product. You get a chance, for not a whole lot of money, to have the public see what you’re doing, to see if you can get your pitch down, and see if your concept or product resonates with them for what they’re doing.

If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to look like you’ve been in business for a while. Make the investment to look like you’re real, whether you are or you aren’t. Have business cards printed up, have brochures done, and have staff there, so you don’t look like you’re a one-man show. It gives credibility to what you’re doing.

At the same time, be honest. Be truthful and tell them you’re new and that will excite some people who will think they can get on the edge of something.”

J.P. Dias

J.P. Dias

Foodie Order

“One thing to be successful at a trade show is to make sure you have a system in place to put all of your leads into your CRM and do a follow-up. You want to be able to follow-up the same day you spoke to them.

After the tradeshow, send an email to remind people of when you talked to them, what you talked about, and times to reconnect. Doing this will help people remember they spoke to you, what it was about, and it helps in the follow-up after the show.”

David Scott Peters

David Scott Peters

The Restaurant Expert

“You have to realize that you can’t rely on the show to market your booth. You’ve got to grab your list, and any other list from vendors you like to do business with, and drive emails and video ads to get traffic to the show.

Do anything you can do to say “Come visit us and see what we have,” because it’s their opportunity to see you in person versus looking online or seeing you in a catalog.”

Final Thoughts

Above all, I believe a trade show is a great place for proof of concept if you’re just starting out. It gives you real-time feedback and can lead to any necessary pivots for you to gain traction.

The question for the readers is, “What tips do you have for dominating a trade show?”

I’d love to hear your comments below!

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Shawn Wenner

As the founder, after a decade in culinary education I decided to fuse my favorite topics in this corner of the web - education, entrepreneurship, & culinary arts. Join the growing community of culinary entrepreneurs and I hope you enjoy the site!

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