Stand-Out Strategies for the 2019 Tradeshow Season

As we kick off February, fresh produce marketers find ourselves on the cusp of a tradeshow season that promises back-to-back shows. As we book our flights and plan our agendas for each show, we’re reflecting on past tradeshow strategies and studying what made brands stand out on showroom floors in 2018.

Here are a few tips to help you plan your tradeshow strategy now—and reap the rewards in the months to come.

Practice cohesion in your booth space

A cohesive booth is a sign of a brand’s meticulous planning and execution leading up to a tradeshow. If you want to stand out on the tradeshow floor, take inventory of all the visual assets you’ll be bringing and ensure they all communicate the same message and tone. We took notice of several brands coordinating outfits at several shows this year, color-coordinating with booth displays and brand colors.

You can also stand out on the tradeshow floor by using up-to-date visual assets and logos on booth graphics, sales materials, swag, and other promotional materials. At this year’s Organic Produce Show, The Salad Farm’s walk-in booth prominently showed the brand’s logo on all assets, leaving no attendee wondering which company’s booth they’d stepped into. This level of cohesion creates a small environment on an otherwise large show space to fully envelop attendees into an experience that makes your brand unique.

Plan to bring something new

Fresh Summit—the Super Bowl of the fresh produce industry—is now just about 8 months away. If you want to reveal new packaging, a new product, or a new website, you should be taking steps to start those projects now (if you haven’t already!). No matter what kind of transformation you may want to bring to this year’s tradeshows, innovation at its best takes time. If you want to stand out at shows, now is the time to strategize for innovations built to impress.

Now is also the time to consider any renovations to existing booth displays! Even the most stunning booth display will plateau in its ability to stand out year after year. That’s not to say you need to rework your booth entirely, however—rather, consider different ways to update your existing booth structure. You can sufficiently refresh a “stale” booth with video content or photography to bring new life to your space.

Follow trends you can capitalize on

Smart tradeshow booths speak to us not only as marketers, but also as shoppers ourselves. We love to see booth graphics and elements that play off existing consumer trends, demonstrating that the brand understands consumers and is ready to meet them where they are. At the 2018 Fresh Summit expo, Ocean Mist Farms’ booth featured a larger-than-life Instant Pot packed full of fresh artichokes. We took note of how well the on-trend shipper fit naturally in the booth, creating a conversation piece with attendees who recognized the iconic cooking appliance.

It’s important to understand that if you’d like to capitalize on a consumer trend in future trends, you should begin following them now!  For example: at DMA, we practice social media listening, interview chefs, and nurture ongoing relationships with food bloggers, and more to ensure we’re ahead of the curve on food trends to come. Interested in seeing the result of some of those efforts? Download our 2019 Food Trends resource for free to get started.

Develop an interactive element to add to your booth

At the 2018 PMA Foodservice show, we enjoyed watching the California Giant team award the Top Chef title from the 2018 Chef Invitational, and we took note of increased booth traffic as visitors were welcomed into the booth to share a toast. Interactive elements, activities, and assets are key to not only attracting booth visitors, but also encouraging them to stick around—and anticipate what you’ll bring to the table at future shows!

Don’t forget to prepare the most important engagement element of any tradeshow booth: the people who are tasked with engaging potential and existing customers. Now is the time to introduce newcomers to face-to-face interactions, because nothing stands out more at a tradeshow than a welcoming, friendly, and excited booth attendant.

We’re looking forward to the 2019 tradeshow season and all the innovations to come! Interested in partnering with DMA to elevate your tradeshow strategy? Reach out to us, and let’s get started!

Need a handy guide to the 2019 tradeshow line-up? Download our 2019 Produce Marketers Calendar!