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I'm going to my first trade show…

This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Jennifer Mattern July 28, 2014 at 8:17 pm.

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    On Wednesday, I’m hopping on the train to go to Philadelphia’s Convention Center for my first trade show. It’s for the lawn care, landscape, & nursery industries. I’m going to take a lot of business cards…but what should I expect from this trade show? How does one handle themselves at a trade show (I don’t want to be pushy). Also, there is an internet marketing firm that is presenting the show & will be having workshops on social media. I’ve debated contacting them (and I won’t until after the show since they’ll be busy this week). But do you recommend me to look them up? Any other pointers will be greatly appreciated.



    Wendy S. Komancheck

    Freelance Business Writer for the Landscape, Lawn Care, and Garden Center Industries

    Phone: 717-405-9873





    Jennifer Mattern

    I don’t do trade shows, so I’m afraid I don’t have much to offer on that front. But I believe Lori Widmer does, so I’ll point her to your thread and hopefully she’ll have some tips to share. 🙂

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Owns AllFreelanceWriting.com | Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com



    Hi Wendy!

    Happy to help (and enjoy the show — Philly has a great space for it and the train lets out right under the convention center).

    Here’s how to handle a show:

    First off, do NOT sell. Most trade shows don’t allow what they call “suitcasing” – selling without buying booth space. While they all have suitcasing policies, very few enforce them, but just to be safe, do what I do:

    – Approach the booth and ask for a demo or info

    – Ask what they do

    – When they ask you, give a little sales pitch. “I’m a writer who works in this space, actually. I write for a few of the companies here (if that’s true) and I’ve been published in the industry mags.”

    – Hand them a business card and brochure (if you have it)

    – Have your portfolio on hand and offer to show it (I keep mine in a PowerPoint presentation on my tablet)

    – Offer to send  them a copy of your portfolio (no one enjoys taking one more thing home)

    – Follow up a week or so later

    If you’ve not done so already, line up some meetings. I like to start months ahead and just ask for a conversation on what their needs are and how I can help.

    Beyond that, mingle. Talk with attendees. Make lunch dates. Go to as many hospitality suites as you can (that’s where the deals are made anyway). Get to know the regulars. Stay in touch with them once you make contact. Don’t sell sell sell, but rather ask how they’re doing, send along something of interest (from a conversation you’ve had), ask about the kids/vacations, etc.

    When you trade business cards, as soon as you can, turn it over and write down some key point about the person/conversation. That helps when you follow up later. You’re going to meet a ton of people — you’ll be surprised how quickly you lose track!




    Oh, and to the question of the  marketing group — yes! Face-to-face meetings are perfect for this.You’re right that they’ll have no time right now. In fact, they’re probably already in the city and not answering pressing emails.

    Also, I wanted to add what I take to shows:

    – comfortable shoes (you’ll thank me later)

    – an easy-to-carry briefcase (I usually use a carryon bag with wheels)

    – Notebook & pens, digital recorder, batteries & chargers

    – at least 100 business cards (take about 50 with you each day)

    – brochures & either an electronic or one print presentation

    – my sales script (what I’ll say when they ask what I do)


    Go to presentations. I like roundtables because you get a chance to join the conversation, but any presentation is good. People presenting and people around you are a great source of work or referrals.


    Jennifer Mattern

    Great insights Lori. Thanks for stopping by to share that! 🙂

    Jennifer Mattern - Professional Blogger, Freelance Business Writer, Author

    Owns AllFreelanceWriting.com | Also blogs at: NakedPR.com & BizAmmo.com

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