Ecommerce Lifestyle
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How To Prepare For Trade Shows

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In this episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast, Anton shares how to prepare for trade shows when your goal is to secure suppliers for your eCommerce store.

  • Based on the size of a company, there are different booth sizes at trade shows. So look out for the big players, but the relationships might be more rewarding from the mid-tier companies.
  • This is also the only place I'll have business cards on me. Keep them simple: Company logo, your personal number/email, your website then a small tagline.
  • I bring a zipper portfolio that has a notebook, pens, my cards and a storage compartment. 
  • I also bring a nice leather backpack. Not a casual one you'd wear to high school, something that looks nice. This comes in handy as people give you their cards and other stuff.
  • Dress the part. You don't need to wear a full suit (unless you want), but dress nice. 
  • Your smartphone will have a nice camera, but I bring my professional one to capture as much as possible and as high quality as possible.
  • Ask questions and find the connections. Find out who you need to talk to after the trade show to keep the relationship going.
  • Go to dropshiplifestyle.com/webinar to catch my seven-step process for doing this as well as a ton of other useful eCommerce tips.
  • Transcripts

    Yo, what's up, everybody? Anton Kraly here from ecommercelifestyle.com, and welcome to another episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast.

    Quick heads up, if you are watching this right now on YouTube or Instagram and you're like, "What is the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast," well, it's a podcast that I've been publishing for maybe eight or nine months now.

    I think this episode is 61 or 62, so this isn't something new. Again, it's something I've been doing, and if you're not already listening to the podcast, be sure to go into iTunes or whatever podcast player you use. We're on I think 12 different platforms, so you should find us, but just go into whatever platform you use, search for eCommerce Lifestyle. It should pop up. Again, you'll see all the previous episodes, and I publish about two a week. Again, if you're on YouTube right now or Instagram, be sure to search for the podcast in your preferred podcast player. Find us, click subscribe, and you will get all of the updates because, typically, this is audio only. I'm doing a video today, just trying something new, but, again, typically, audio only.

    What I want to talk about in today's episode, just quickly, is something that came up in one of our Facebook groups. This was a question that was asked a few days ago by someone named Chris. I'll read the question, and then I'll just give you my answer. That should benefit him and everybody else here listening.

    The question says, "Hey, everyone, I'm going to my first trade show in Las Vegas in May. Could you offer any advice on what I need to prepare before I attend? I want to make sure I have the right information to hand when speaking with potential new suppliers. I also want to make sure I'm asking the right questions. I'll prepare a list of suppliers that I want to talk to before I go, so I know who to look out for. How else can I make my trade show visit a success?"

    Chris, awesome question, and I love that you're taking that next step by going to trade shows, meeting people in person, and building out your network of suppliers and vendors.

    I'll give you what I do and what I recommend. Having that list of who you want to hit, basically who you want to go see, is a good idea because a lot of these trade show floors, some of them are small, but a lot of them could be overwhelming, and even if you go for two days or so, it might end, you might be like, "Oh, I never had a chance to speak with company X or company Y." The way that I typically work in all the trade shows I've been to for different industries is basically based on the size of the company. They have different sized booths. Reason being, because the bigger companies typically invest more and buy bigger booths.

    When you have these big companies there, typically what they're looking for are companies that are going to go there that are buyers, that will place purchase orders, so just know in advance you should visit the big players in your industry, but a lot of times, the conversations and the connections might even be stronger with the what I would call mid-tier suppliers, the ones that are there that are looking to network, that are looking to build relationships, but, again, what you'll see at a lot of the bigger booths, at least from my experience, of course, you can go and connect with people, but typically they're looking to network with the companies that are spending money sooner than later. Just keep that in mind. Basically, what I mean by that is don't disregard the smaller companies at the show because those might be some of your most profitable relationships. Keep that in mind.

    I made a couple notes here, so I'll just read through them, of things that I recommend you bring and things that I always bring.

    First, this is the only time you'll ever see me with a business card, but I do recommend bringing business cards just because that's how these things work. There's still an old school element to them. If you want to order some, a website with low minimum order quantities with fast shipping and good product quality is vistaprint.com. Again, vista, V-I-S-T-Aprint.com. What should be on your business card? We like to keep it simple. Have your company logo, have your phone number, your personal phone number, your name, your position, and then also have a tagline. If you sold home theater equipment or home theater seating, it should say, whatever, "Yourstore.com," with your logo, and then, "The experts in home theater seating," or something like that, just so when they look at it, they're like, "Oh, who's this?" Put logo, tagline, website, email, again, your direct email, phone number, your direct phone number, and your title, and that you should have to hand off to people you connect with. That's the first thing.

    Second thing is, if you're watching this on video, this isn't the exact one I bring. I have one in my home office, a zippered portfolio I think they're called, just a simple leather portfolio that, again, the one I have at home that I bring with me has a big zipper around it. Inside, it has a notepad, it has my pens, it has my business card, and it has a storage folder. That's typically what I'm walking around with. Reason being is because, just like when you're calling suppliers, a lot of things are going happen as you go from booth to booth and exhibitor to exhibitor, and it's really good to jot down notes.

    Again, I like to do it within my portfolio, so when I go home, I can review who I spoke to and what we spoke about. Also makes it easy to pull out your business cards, and you're going to be receiving documents from different vendors, things like their product catalogs, sometimes business cards, and just have a place to put that all in. I do recommend bringing one of those, as well. You can get them super cheap online if you don't have one already.

    Next thing is, again, as you're going around, people are going to be giving you stuff, sometimes, a piece of paper, sometimes, a pretty thick product catalog, and it adds up quick, and what I like to do is bring ... Do I have it here? I don't know where it is, but I have a pretty nice leather backpack, and that's typically what I bring, not a JanSport old school backpack, but something that looks pretty good, that as the day goes by and I'm walking around with arms full of stuff, I can go ahead and just toss it in there and still look professional enough. Definitely keep that in mind.

    Another thing that I made a note on that's super important is dress the part. Whatever your style is, you see me in these videos, I wear Drop Ship Lifestyle T-shirts and jeans and Nike Air Max sneakers every day, but when I go to trade shows, I don't wear that. If you want to wear a full suit, wear a full suit. I typically wear a nice pair of jeans with dress shoes and a blazer. That's typically my look there. Don't go in, if you're going to try to meet people wearing cargo shorts and a T-shirt like this. Dress it up a little bit.

    Another thing, one big thing you want to take away from trade shows is content. Two things you want, connections and content. Connections are the people you speak to. Content is stuff you can use in your emails, on your social pages, on your website. If you have a good camera phone, like I have the iPhone, takes good enough pictures, but what I like to do is actually bring this guy. This is a Canon G7 X Mark II camera. No, you don't need one of these, but I really like this camera. The quality is crisper, and it's higher quality than the phone, so I typically bring this.

    Again, it's small. It fits right in the backpack, and the reason is not just because I'm taking pictures of random stuff. I'm trying to get unique photos of products that are out on the show floor. If I can talk to anybody and do a quick little interview, I'm trying to do that. Again, not that we're going to use everything that we photo and film, but you're trying to capture unique content, and you have basically one chance a year to do this at the show, so my advice is capture as much as possible. You don't have to use it all. Try to get it as high quality as possible. Again, it could be a really good camera phone that's charged, that has battery, or it could be an actual camera that's small enough to fit in your bag, but good enough to get really high quality content.

    The other thing, I mentioned the connections. What I try to do and what I recommend you do is when you're talking to people, for the most part, you're not going to be signing deals there. What I like to ask and what you should ask is, "Hey, person I'm talking to at Booth 123, here's my business card. This is who we are. This is what we do. I'd love to know who I should talk to at your company about getting set up as a vendor. I see your products. This is obviously really high quality stuff. This would fit great into our product collection." Just have a conversation about it, but the connection that, again, I'm trying to get is who should I talk to and who obviously is that person, so, that way, once things quiet down after the show, you reach out to them, you say, "Hi. I'm calling for [Christine 00:08:23]. I spoke to Mary last week at the show in Vegas, and she told me that I should have a conversation with Christine about working together," whatever it is. Get those two names. Use those connections. Build it out.

    That's some quick advice. Best of luck again to Chris. Happy you are going. It's definitely a big step in the right direction. Definitely keep us all updated over in the Facebook group on how things go.

    For everybody that's listening to this or watching this right now, if you are and you're not part of Drop Ship Lifestyle yet, that's my eCommerce training program, go to dropshiplifestyle.com/webinar, and that's where you can learn my seven-step system for doing this. Again, dropshiplifestyle.com/webinar. Hop over there, and I'll see you on that page.

    Again, Chris, keep us posted, and I'll talk to you all in the next episode of the eCommerce Lifestyle podcast.

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