Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No, No Nanette- Trade Show No-nos

Last week we attended an event called a buyer show, for a larger grocery retailer chain that has locations in the PA, MD, NJ, NY, OH, VA, WV. A buyer show is very similar to an industry trade show in that vendors ( in our case, smaller food companies) will set up tables or booths where they will exhibit their products and hand out samples. The executives and category buyers from the retail chain were the attendees for this particular event, in search of new products that customers might like.

My mom and I have only been in the business for about 2 1/2 years, which is considered relatively new when it comes to the packaged foods industry. But in this period of time, we've attended more than a few of these types of events and every time that we do, I find there are always vendors that act a certain way that, from a common sense perspective would deter buyers from going anywhere near their table. When I see these in action, they are funny, but they also make me cringe, because they can come off as rude or impolite. Let's call these trade show no-nos.

1) Eating your own samples- Buyer and trade shows can be 5-8 hours long, so it's reasonable that one would get hungry during the event. But eating samples from the plate you have just set out for attendees is not particularly attractive and somewhat unhygenic if you are still wearing the food service glove you are using to set out the samples (yes, this does happen)

2) Sitting down at your table- The hours can be long, but sitting down while attendees are checking out your display creates the image that you are not enthusiastic about being there or that maybe you just don't care. I think one of the worst things I've seen is when a potential buyer approaches a table and a vendor remains seated the entire time that buyer is speaking to him/her. To me, that says to the buyer, "Hey- thanks for stopping by, but my feet really hurt, and you're not important enough for me to speak to you at eye level."

3) Assuming a football block position- Sometimes one can unintentionally resort to standing like he/she is a member of a high school football team (arms crossed, legs shoulder width apart, with a stern look of intimidation on your face). This happens most when the show gets a little slow. I always try to remember to check the way I'm standing and the facial expression I have on because, let's face it- no buyers are going to approach you if you look like you're about to tackle them.

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