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Regarding upcoming Winter show in Vegas

John Merlino


HI all, I am a first timer at this, although I have participated from an operational perspective, I have never had to coordinate a show from a business owners one.  Can I have someone contact me to talk one on one about personal experience setting up, preparing for and executing a 10x10 booth at the SFA shows.  I want to be as successful as possible this coming year and could use the help.  I know for instance I have read that if you have 1000 cards made, bring 2000 etc. etc.  

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Good afternoon, I suggest you reach out to operations@specialtyfood.com. It's important to indicate that you will be exhibiting as a First Time Exhibitor. Also, you are welcome to reach out to your Member Development rep, Reta Martin at rmartin@specialtyfood.com, for more help.

It's early to get info, as the Business Services hub doesn't yet have forms up yet, but you can check the following link later in September for more show-related information: https://www.specialtyfood.com/shows-events/winter-fancy-food-show/exhibiting/exhibitor-services-hub/

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Megan Rooney
This post was recognized by Megan Rooney!

Victoria J Ho was awarded the badge 'Great Support' and 25 points.

Hey John,

A fellow member had asked a similar question in preparation for last year's show, and I provided a birdseye list that I'm hoping you can find some value in as you begin planning. The fact that you recognize the power in making your show experience a triumph before you're on the floor, is a great advantage. Never let the foot traffic be the only opportunity for success at a tradeshow--drive decision makers to YOU and wow them when they arrive. 🙂 


Foremost: keep in mind that your booth aesthetic might be what initially draws in a curious guest, but you (and your team) will be what keeps them engaged once they've arrived. Know your numbers backwards and forwards, or keep a cheat sheet handy so that talking logistics doesn't take away from telling your story. Really hone in on how  your product differentiates within the category, and also how it delivers solutions for daily life. This isn't just rattling off a list of product attributes, which are certainly important--but really finding the point of resonance that makes Beloved Cafe worth the shelf space. 

With an authentic an polished pitch ready for action, my advice for booth design is always to keep it simple. Even if your packaging or brand aesthetic utilizes a lot of intricate patterns or detailed illustrations, your booth should be easy to identify from half an aisle away. Some key investments that you'll be able to get use out of for many shows to come:

- A backdrop/banner. Standard tradeshow booths around the world are 10 x 10 feet , with an 8' pipe and drain height. So a quality fabric banner or tension fabric system should be designed at 10' wide by 8' tall. Emphasize your logo, loud and proud. If you have a PMS brand palette, splash it on! If there's a key value proposition or qualified claim that you feel defines your product integrity, like being certified organic, perhaps include that logo prominently. Otherwise, I would keep a backdrop sleek and to-the-point. If you're using any photography, make sure it's exquisitely sharp--blurry, low res images detract from all the effort you've made. In the same vein, too many graphic elements or text can become distracting, and can also be a limiting factor if you decide to change things up later in the year. 

- A table throw or table runner. If you're keeping your standard booth package, which is a cost-effective way to build out structure in your booth, there will be a low table you can place in front of your booth to display your product line, present key collateral or literature, and conduct sampling. Personally, I prefer a more open booth layout that invites people into the space for conversation (on comfy, classy chairs -- not the ubiquitous convention hall chairs), but having a separation between the inside and outside of a booth is still dominant at trade shows. To tie together the branding of your booth, a table throw can complement your backdrop really nicely. Perhaps it's the same color, or perhaps it brings in another core color of your brand palette. I usually recommend that any color you choose be on the darker side, to hide the inevitable spills, pen marks, scuffs and wrinkles of tradeshow life. Since your logo will be shining brightly on the backdrop, your table throw may or may not have printing on it, but it's an opportunity to add more energy and welcoming messaging to your visual footprint without much work or cost.

- Merchandising examples. If your product is currently being sold in any retail outlets, or you have a clear idea of where in a store you see it selling best, SHOW THIS TO BUYERS! Bring shelves (even a nice, classy bookshelf repurposed as a display shelf works great) to show how your product looks as a set. If you're a gifting item, show off the branded packaging you offer, including seasonal exclusives or customization options. If you have single serving products like bagged tea, show how they look in a sectioned tray; or if you have pillow-pack or pouched snacks, put them on a clip strip. Essentially, you want buyers to be able to envision you in their stores, with a presentation that aligns with their own store aesthetic (or boosts it!)

-Sales collateral. A crisp, well designed sell sheet is a must-have at any show. Shows your product and pallet specs, salient purchasing info and product images (everything a buyer needs to know to make a purchase decision, minus the wholesale pricing). Put these, along with any marketing collateral, in a nice, tidy holder. 

- Meeting Space. If you take the time to conduct pre-show outreach to guests, and have an alluring product to share, your booth will always be hopping with interest. To have more meaningful business conversations onsite, set up a small meeting area in your booth so that you can invite people to rest their feet for a while and learn more about why your brand is the next big thing. Bistro height stools and tables work well since people can choose to sit or to stand, and you have a better birdseye view of what is happening in and around your booth at any time. 

- Storage area. We're all human beings. We need jackets, water, snacks, cell phone chargers, etc. But no one else needs to SEE these things. Keep your booth looking sharp, organized and free of clutter. A clean stage really helps your product shine. If you are using a table and table throw, the covered space beneath the table is perfect for hiding samples, creature comforts, and just "stuff"

- The Outfit. You are part of your booth display, and the absolute best ambassador for your brand. So dress the part! It may not mean a branded tee for your particular brand--maybe it's a colorful apron, a three-piece suit, a flannel button down. Whatever it is that you feel represents the spirit of your brand, and that makes you feel confident and happy--wear THAT.

This is hardly comprehensive for a list on booth strategy, but I think it's a solid start for a first time exhibitor looking to maximizes impact at minimal cost. 

Have fun. Celebrate the milestone. Take good notes. 



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