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Want food tradeshow success? Consider these four tips from vendors

  • 2.5 min read

Trade show season in Canada runs when the temperatures cool, with late winter and early spring peak time for learning and networking events. Making the most of the trade shows and ensuring a return on the investment is critical to moving your business forward.

Dana McCauley, a veteran business executive with extensive experience in the food business, sat down with four food business professionals to discuss how to optimize trade show visits for both buyers and vendors.  

Food suppliers Mike Tkaczuk of Serrano Imports, and Lynn Segal of Hilite Fine Foods, offer tips from their point of view.

1. Work your network

Approach a trade show as an opportunity to nurture contacts, make connections and build networks.

Tkaczuk and Segal approach a trade show as an opportunity to nurture contacts, make connections and build their networks.

Whether online or in-person, shows are a perfect opportunity to seize the event’s energy and reconnect with contacts and colleagues from across the country who are all in one place. Working to foster connections during in-person or online events also creates a foundational network. And it’s those contacts you will be able to reach out to during slow sales periods.

2. Tell your story however you can

For many people attending trade shows, whether in-person or online, the goal is to gain new customers and grow a business – whether you’re an exhibitor or visitor.

Tkaczuk focuses on creating a memorable story at his exhibit space, transporting visitors to Spain for a food experience during an in-person show, and in-person and online, giving visitors ideas on how they can merchandise his products in a way that draws customers in. With online trade shows, Tkaczuk will often follow-up with online lessons with chefs on how to best serve the food his company imports.

3. Connect in new ways

Lynn Segal of Hilite Fine Foods takes a different approach. Since her product doesn’t lend itself well to a booth, she seeks other ways to amplify Hilite’s presence, such as sponsoring competitions – which works for both in-person and online trade shows. A cooking competition helps get products into the participating chef’s hands and their name mentioned during the competition. Segal is also sure to spend some one-on-one time with competitors and their mentors, creating a multi-layered network of possible new customers.

4. Consistency pays off

Exhibiting and attending in-person and online trade shows increases visibility, but it certainly isn’t a fast-track solution to netting high sales. Creating a trade show experience takes time. But with a consistent product, marketing and branding, over time, the investment can pay off. Exhibitors should avoid calculating the amount of money spent to exhibit at a trade show with the number of deals signed. A trade show connection may not pay off with a sale today or tomorrow. It’s about brand building, growing your network and making connections that will eventually lead to sales.

For more in-depth conversation and  tradeshow insights from seasoned food business professionals, check out the full video.