How Craft Breweries and Distilleries Can Network and Leverage Connections at Trade Events and Conferences
The most direct way to measure your ROI on your trade show investment is to monitor the number of meetings you get before, during and after the event.
Trade Show Tips
Finding ways to generate interest in your brands at a trade show goes beyond just posting to your Facebook and LinkedIn that you will be present and are open for business. Here is a guide to what you should be focusing on as you prepare, attend and wind-down from a trade event.
In order to fully take advantage of the time you spend at trade shows, it is important to promote the fact that you will be attending the event. Create excitement and start prospecting. Show the trade you are investing in their market and that you are ready to do what it takes to generate a successful sales network.
Request visitor lists (if they will give them to you) from the event organizer and start networking way in advance. If you can’t get a list from the organizers, actively seek out information on who is attending through social networks, phone and email. Some of the best resources are trade based networks, where you can network directly with buyers looking for brands just like yours. Get them interested in your brand and tell them you will are attending the event. Ask for meetings from key accounts before, during or after the show.
You should also educate yourself about exactly what your potential distributors and importers want to hear from you. Knowing what to include in your sell sheets, how to deliver your pitch, what margins they are expecting and what to cover in your distribution agreements is a very important part of the business. The moment you arrive in the city you should have your calendar filled with meetings. It’s not rocket science: the more meetings you have and the better prepared you are for them, the easier it will be to land a new resale partner.
One of the most dynamic online trade resources for small and medium sized breweries to network with importers and buyers and learn about best practices in sales, distribution and marketing is the Beverage Trade Network Academy. With hundreds of ‘how-to’ articles, webinars and videos, their Academy is one of the leading educational resources in the industry. They also host the USA Trade Tasting Conference in New York City every year. The conference hosts prominent figures as they explore the most successful sales and distribution strategies used in the US market today.
At the event
When you are at your booth, you should always try and understand your visitor and talk about them, not you. It is important to connect on a personal level. Craft a few 30 second pitches that you can deliver after you speak to them about their background.
Your pitch should accurately describe how your brand is positioned to succeed in their market and your focus should be on getting a sit-down meeting with them in the near feature.
A good way to approach your event participation is to prepare your pitch around a door opener SKU for which you can really tell your story. It should be at very good price point for their market, highly awarded and highlight your unique selling proposition. Don’t try and sell all of your brands at once.
Talk to visitors about how you are there to invest in the market and help them support the brand with market work and store tastings to grow sales. Offer to buy them lunch and ask for a sit down meeting.
Have a trade packet that includes point of sale examples, pictures of case-displays, and testimonials of proven history from other importers and distributors.
It’s also good practice to stay active on social media throughout the event to try and drive traffic to your booth as well as to connect with recent contacts you’ve made.
Remember – for an importer or a distributor, you are just another case to sell. They want to know how much they can make per case and how fast that case is going to move. The bottom line is the ONLY thing distributors are truly worried about. Your story and marketing is the extra fodder that should fill your pitch.
Don’t forget to follow up with all of your new contacts. Send thank you emails within 48 hours in which you confirm or set up a meeting. Try and create a funnel where you end up doing 20 meetings at each stage of the event.
Whether it is pre, at or post show, this should result in you sending 10-20 proposals, which will hopefully translate into 5 solid prospects and ultimately one to two sales.
Trade shows are all about networking. Buyers aren’t likely to taste your product and sign a distribution agreement on the spot. If you don’t try and set meetings you won’t get anything out of attending!
This information should help you understand how to successfully approach trade shows. If you want to connect with distributor buyers, retailers, US importers and media and learn about best practices in sales, distribution and marketing, register to exhibit and USA Trade Tasting and conference to connect with thousands of beverage professional at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City on May 16-17, 2017.
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