I have touched on the trade show experience in other posts but having just shown ChopSaver lip balm for the third time at the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting, trade shows are once again on my mind. ChopSaver was warmly received by hundreds of dermatologists from around the world; doctors who are pleased to see there is now a superior, all-natural alternative in lip care.

Trade shows are the modern day equivalent of the ancient marketplace. Imagine a bustling city center in ancient times where merchants converge to show off their wares and lure prospective buyers. Fast forward to a modern convention hall in a large city. An industry announces their annual convention and thousands of people attend. Hundreds of companies set up their displays to attract the attention of the convention attendees – the movers and shakers in the industry.

If you have never attended a trade show, they are a fascinating convergence of buyers, sellers and marketing techniques from the very simple to the most sophisticated, elaborate displays one can imagine. As ChopSaver has both a musical and medical clientele, we have had the opportunity to participate in trade events for two vastly different markets. The most unique thing about a music related convention is the noise. Yes, a cavernous room full of people trying out instruments can be deafening. Imagine a band director convention with dozens of people at all levels of proficiency trying out the newest trumpets, trombones and drums. Or picture yourself at The NAMM Show which attracts manufacturers of all musical instruments from around the world including a huge preponderance of electric basses and guitars.

Guitars at the NAMM Show

The American Academy of Dermatology convention is a slightly more staid affair from a volume standpoint but the displays erected by huge companies like Procter & Gamble and Neutrogena are nothing short of stunning in their size and complexity. Smoothie bars, water fountains and enormous multimedia displays are employed to get the attention of doctors from around the world and to educate them on the latest breakthroughs in skin care.

Not all of the booths are huge and elaborate. Many are a simple 10×10 foot affair with a simple backdrop. ChopSaver displays are still like that because at the end of the day, selling is a people business.

ChopSaver at the American Academy of Dermatology

Someone walks by your booth. You smile and say hello and most of the time a conversation starts and the pitch begins. Large displays are impressive but I am always reminded that it’s the personal connections that build trust and brand loyalty. Don’t go to one trade show and expect it to put you over the top. Go to learn from your competitors and to make friends in the industry and become known as an expert in your field. And go with the knowledge that you will probably need to go several times to become “part of the club.”