A trade show can be a great way for food companies to grow their business. Yet, when you consider the cost of the booth, materials, lodging, and airfare, it can get quite expensive.

In our food biz advertising costs infographic, we estimate the total expense of showing at food trade shows ranges anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000 per event! Here are a few tips to make the most of your trade show experience to help justify its cost.costs of exhibiting at food trade shows

Find Ways To Stand Out

In a convention hall full of businesses trying to sell their products, it is important to stand out from the crowd. For instance, the packaging of your product can be very persuasive.

According to our friends at Small Food Business, “your packaging has to not only stand out but also be visible in the 3.2 seconds that someone is breezing past your booth. This can be hard for someone with smaller products (like chocolates, etc.) in which case you might want to add large blown-up photos of your product/packaging to your booth to help attract buyers.”

Train Your Team

If you have a well-trained staff, you won’t need to spend your money creating an over-the-top booth in hopes of attracting attendees. It is important to hold at least one pre-show staff training to ensure that you actually get positive results.

Consider what Michael Adams, owner of Green Mountain Mustard, learned at a trade show he had a booth at: “[My team] knew pricing, but not the intricacies of how the business operated, the ingredients used, etc… Next time, I’m going to develop a better process for training new and current team members.”

Make Your Booth Inviting

top food trade showsRomy Taormina is the CEO and co-founder of Psi Bands, a product that is sold in over 10,000 stores nationally, and she believes that simplicity is key when it comes to setting up your trade show booth. “A simple, clean booth that’s bright and eye-catching is important… Sometimes people have been on their feet all day and just want to sit down.” Avoid over packing your booth and attendees will surely flock to your booth.

Put New Contacts In Your Sales Funnel

Trade shows are about sales. You may not sell right there on the floor, but the hope is that you will when you are back at your desk.

So, what do you need to do? Scan badges, get business cards, and when you make a connection with someone, make note of their name/business and follow up later.

This means you not only work your booth, but you should also attend networking events, sit next to someone new at lunch, get to know your booth neighbors, and talk to people in the shuttle back to the hotel. Take every opportunity to meet someone new.

Yes, you should also have samples at the booth and brochures and sales sheets to offer, but just handing those out isn’t enough. You need to know who visits your food trade show booth and follow up. Period.

Take the PR Opportunity

Many times you’ll get a media list for sponsorship or exhibiting at a trade show. Take this opportunity to send a press release or personal invitation to media professionals who may be interested in your business. Connect with the media on social media before and after the event, too.

If you have tips or best practices for attending food trade shows, we’d love to hear it.

Sara Lancaster

About Sara Lancaster

Sara is The Condiment Marketing Co.’s founder and creative director. She oversees client relationships, strategic marketing plans, as well as a bit of copywriting and social media management.