Is it just us, or does Natural Products Expo West feel more like a family reunion than a trade show? New products, old friends, early mornings, and late nights. Our team looks forward to this industry celebration every year.
In our decade of attending this event, we’ve seen brands crush it at Expo and we’ve seen brands struggle to break through the commotion. Often, it seems veteran brands struggle just as much as start-ups to make sure their message is heard and seen by the right folks. It’s hard to create a new trade show experience year after year.
If you’re looking to make a statement at Expo, check out these tips we’ve put together to make sure your significant investment pays off!
1. Set a goal.
I can’t tell you how many companies come to Expo West to “gain exposure.” That’s a very vague goal and it will be hard to tell if you achieved that goal after the event. We suggest having a clear and measurable goal before attending Expo West. As an example: secure three sit-down meetings with category buyers where we will present our newest line extension. Having a goal helps your team focus their energy on the deliverables that matter most to you.
2. Bring plenty of business cards.
While the world has evolved to primarily digital communication, there is absolutely a need for business cards at Expo West. Even though you may want to be selective on who you give your card to, you will almost certainly need more than you think. We can’t tell you how many exhibitors run out of cards on the first day. Don’t let that be you! We recommend at least 1,000 business cards.
3. Place your point of product differentiation front and center.
Brands will often put their featured product front and center. That’s an ok way to go if your new product highlights your point of differentiation. But, if it’s a line extension, that’s unlikely the case. Instead, focus on how you are different than your competitors. Is your commitment to sustainability unmatched? Do you offer an entry- level product for people new to supplements? Do you ferment your product longer than other brands to provide the maximum health benefits? Expo West is a great time to remind buyers why your brand is THE brand in your category.
4. Have a point of engagement.
There are sooooo many people doing product sampling at Expo West that it’s hard for samples, in and of themselves, to help you stand out. Having a memorable experiential marketing activation is one way to ensure your brand messaging stands out among the crowd. One year Kind Bar gave out roses. Babyganics created a space where they encouraged moms to let go of guilt-ridden perfectionism and acknowledged the role they played in painting an unattainable image of motherhood. Years later, I still remember these experiences.
5. Make sure you are fully staffed.
Expo West days are long. Make sure you have enough people staffed to cover breaks. Giving your team time to eat “real food” instead of just partaking in all the product sampling, will help your team feel their best. You may also consider hiring brand ambassadors to do the meet at greet at the booth, which allows your internal sales and marketing folks to take longer meetings with retail buyers.
6. Get some sleep.
With the after-hours dinners, parties, etc., it can be easy to get drawn into late night shenanigans. No judgement here. But, when you’re doing this night after night, it’s tough to present your best self on the trade show floor. And when that WFM buyer comes to visit your booth, you don’t want them to find you on the struggle bus.
7. Make the most of the press.
Expo West draws a lot of influencers. We recommend having a point person to engage with them, so your brand messaging is consistent. The more engaging your booth space is (see point 4 above), the more likely you are to be included in their blogs and articles after the event.
There are so many wonderful opportunities at Expo West. We hope these tips help you make the most of them!
Are you headed to Expo West? We can’t wait to see you! Give us a shout at email@example.com if you’d like to meet up!