When I read specialty food coach and consultant Deb Mazzaferro‘s newsletter recapping the 2012 Winter Fancy Food Show, well I immediately asked if I could reprint. At the show she not only helped new organic candy company Torie & Howard — whose branding delights me no end — successfully launch, she compiled a useful list of tips for new specialty food entrepreneurs to use at your Fancy Food Show debut!
Success at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco
“It’s been a long time since I’ve worked a booth, but hey… it’s like riding a bicycle… you get on and it all comes back… almost instinctively. Yet I understand from working with many clients (over 100 in the past 11 years as a consultant) that many exhibitors don’t know the key elements to having a great show. Here’s my list of musts:”
- Identify your goals in advance: do you want to write orders, build your database, meet specific target accounts, add distributors, build your private label business? Once you are clear on what your intended outcomes are, you can market prior to the show as well as design your booth to accomplish your goal. You’ll also have metrics in place to determine success. At this 2012 show, Torie & Howard’s goal was to sign distributors. We contacted the target accounts prior to the show and drove them to the booth (which was in the ballroom). They might not have found us if we hadn’t done this preshow work.
- Participate in the Business Builders One-on-One meetings on Saturday. Even though I had an appointment at 9 AM and one at 4:50 PM, I made the commitment to be there all day. This paid off because there were meetings available at the last minute which I was able to step into. You’ll be able to show your product, but also be prepared for 10 minutes of rapid bantering. If you are seeing distributors, be sure you understand what you can offer in terms of discounts, promotions, advertising allowances, etc. As much as they want your great product, they also need to understand how much you can support it with marketing. Have your questions ready for them as well.
- Articulate your go-to-market strategy and stick to it. If you want to sell through distributors, ask everyone who comes to your booth which distributor they use. Post show, you’ll have a list of potential distributors and a list of their accounts who want your product. Powerful!
- Have a preshow meeting with your staff so they know your goals and what to capture from attendees. I provided a FAQ for my clients and they were able to answer 99% of the questions that were asked.
- Have a show special. Any order is cash toward paying your booth expenses and closing an account at the show is one less follow up when you get back to the office.
- Rent the lead retrieval machine. I like the one that provides a paper printout so I can take notes on it. The jump drive makes for easy uploading into your CRM so there is minimum typing. I even scan consumers so I can build a list for my web announcements, invite them to join Facebook, tell them where to buy product as I close new retailers.
- Deflect non-prospects. Potential vendors should not be consuming your time during show hours. Decide in advance how to handle these. I usually ask for a card and tell them someone will be in touch if we have a need. I prefer not to give out a contact name to limit the cold calls.
- Follow-up: send the samples you promised. Send every prospect a thank you along with a price list, sales brochure and list of distributors (or other way to order). Remind them of your show special if it’s still in effect or extend it to generate more orders. Include the next couple of shows you’ll be exhibiting in.
- Evaluate your metrics; list your accomplishments. Note what you can improve on for the next show. Do this while it’s fresh in your mind.
- Take a deep breath. You did it. Again!
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Article Copyright Deb Mazzaferro