5 Ways to Prepare for a Pet Business Trade Show
As the director of grooming and special services at World Pet Association (WPA), I have experienced the ins and outs of the pet business industry from the perspective of the small business groomer to the large chain product retailer. Whether you are a retailer, groomer or service provider, there is no shortage of resources or information online to help you keep up with the latest innovations and consumer trends, but I’ve discovered that nothing can compare to the value of learning and collaborating with industry peers in person. An estimated 99 percent of marketers have said they found unique value from trade shows that they did not get from other marketing mediums.
While attending a trade show may seem a bit overwhelming at first, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that you and your team have a successful event.
One of the best shows any newcomer or seasoned professional in the pet products or grooming industry can attend is Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference, featuring North America’s largest grooming competition and produced by WPA.
Here are my top five tips to prepare for a pet business trade show, whether it’s your first or 20th time:
1. Do your research. To get the most out of your experience, start early in preparing your business to have a presence at the show. Determine what knowledge or skills you’d like to take away when all is said and done. Are you looking to boost sales? Learn a new skill? Earn a professional certification? Drive online traffic for your business? No matter what your objective is, most trade shows offer an education track that’s right for you. Once you have determined your needs, select sessions and events that will give you the most support, ideas and tools to bring back to your business and implement.
2. Get your community involved. In recent years, catering to customers has become more focused on building a community and less transactional. For them to return to your business, they want to feel valued for their loyalty and involved in your success. This is a great opportunity to include them in your trade show journey. I recommend adding an “Education Fund” jar in your store at the check-out counter and share with your customers that you are planning to attend a trade show with your employees to gain hands-on education and find ways to better your business. Get them excited about what this will mean for your business and their future customer experience. Ask them what products they would like you to review and consider bringing those into your marketing mix. They will want to return to your business to see if you took their suggestions to heart.
3. Be social. If you are not already active on social media, what are you waiting for? It is estimated that 71 percent of consumers who have a good social media service experience with a brand are more likely to recommend that brand to others. Share your business journey with your audience as you experience and capture every exciting moment of the trade show on your social channels, whether it’s live tweeting your key takeaways from an education session or posting Instagram Stories of yourself walking through the show floor. Follow along with the trade show’s social channels to get insight into what types of businesses, exhibitors, speakers and attendees are also planning to be onsite.
4. Is that all-natural shampoo supplier your customers rave about promoting a new product line? Is there a seminar led by one of your favorite mentors in the pet industry? Network with them! Reach out to schedule pre-show meetings with other businesses that you know will be in attendance. Networking at an industry event can transform your business in ways you cannot even imagine and there is no better time or place than a trade show. Don’t forget to bring plenty of business cards!
5. Recap your event. When you return to your business, be sure to share with your customers what new techniques you mastered, any new products you brought back or certifications you earned. Follow-up with connections you made at the event and maintain those relationships throughout the year.
Put your trade show skills to practice at this year’s conference March 7-10 at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta.