Ask the Experts…..
SAN DIEGO — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace offers supplier companies a wealth of opportunities to connect with retail buyers. Taking advantage of those opportunities, though, requires some careful planning, two industry veterans say.
The first step for exhibitors is to find ways to invite buyers to their booths, a process that should begin weeks before the show. InterQuantum president Anthony Raissen, whose firm provides marketing, advertising and other services to suppliers, recommends using clever e-mails and interesting formal invitations.
Consultant David Biernbaum, who has more than 25 years of NACDS experience as a senior-level sales and marketing vice president, agrees that a creative — but professional — approach is required. Phone calls to the buyers are not the recommended means of contact, he says, adding that suppliers should get their booth numbers publicized well in advance of the event and offer a compelling reason for buyers to make an appointment or stop by for a visit.
“Consumer Packaged Goods buyers are professional people who are not attracted by gimmicks,” Biernbaum says. “They need substantive reasons to check a company out.”
Suppliers certainly should participate in the Meet the Market segment, Raissen says, where they should be prepared to pitch their item or items within five minutes, and they should have samples and one-page “leave-behinds” handy.
Biernbaum cautions against wasting time at Meet the Market with too much small talk, or by asking retailers questions (such as their store counts) that could easily be answered ahead of time by doing a little homework.
When it comes to the show itself, Raissen recommends making a booth inviting through the use of relevant props, but avoiding clutter. “The booth also should not be overcrowded with extra, nonessential people,” he says. “The goal is to stand out in a professional, positive manner.”
Biernbaum suggests that booths be set up like a combination of a mini-showroom and conference area. “Booths should be ready for business the very second the event begins,” Biernbaum says, noting that the retailer preview portion of the show can be critical to an exhibitor’s success.
Biernbaum also recommends being early for the NACDS social events, because buyers often do not stay long.
“The real work should begin after Marketplace is over,” Biernbaum says. “Suppliers should be sure they know how to follow up with the right communication and the right timing with each retailer.” Raissen suggests that exhibitors plan for follow-up ahead of time, by having an efficient plan for taking notes during meetings to ensure accuracy. Follow-up should be done in writing and by phone, he says, and include a request for a post-show meeting.
Reprinted from MMR’s April 21, 2008