In a few days, I’m headed off to the BlogPaws Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.
I’m excited to eat great food (no cooking for three days!), pet all the animals, and attend the Oscars-style Nose to Nose Awards, where we’ll find out if my blog, Little Dog Tips, a finalist for Best New Pet Blog, will win an award.
But I’m even more excited to network with over 100 businesses that will be setting up booths in the Exhibit Hall.
To be honest, networking with a booth between me and the vendor can be a little awkward. Events with lots of crowds make it impossible to spend more than a few moments speaking with the booth owner.
I feel it might be a bit easier at BlogPaws, where I’ll have Matilda to break the ice.
The vendors will also be aware of my intentions: to work with them for product reviews, and maybe even some freelance writing, if they need web content or product descriptions. At other events, booth owners don’t really seem to understand my intentions when I approach them, or seem annoyed if I want to talk about anything other than buying their product.
Earlier this year, I attended the Family Pet Expo in Orange County. I networked with dozens of businesses, but some outshined the others in effectiveness.
Here’s what made some vendors stand out more than others:
Demonstrate Your Product
Me and my fiance Alberto still laugh at this moment to this day.
One booth was selling a contraption that picks up dog hair. It was a lint roller on speed. The woman demonstrating the product, and explaining how it was only available for sale at her booth – it couldn’t be purchased online.
She was the only person demonstrating a product in the building, so she really drew a crowd.
Within moments of the end of her demonstration, a woman in the crowd rushed forward, her hand full of cash. She practically shoved the money into the vendor’s hand. It was a real-life “Shut up and take my money!” moment.
As hilarious as this was, it proved the effectiveness of the demonstration.
Hand Out Freebies
There weren’t a lot of free samples at Family Pet Expo. With the volume of attendance, I can see why just a handful of vendors offered them. At the same time, those that were willing to invest in free samples easily stood out.
One vendor stood in front of her booth and handed out the samples.
At that point, it was easy to start a conversation with her and learn more about her product. I ended up trying it out and featured it on Little Dog Tips.
If your product isn’t sample-able, try printed pens, water bottles with printed labels, and other customized swag.
Print Off Copies Of Your Press Release
Not everyone who walks up to your booth wants to buy 100 units of your product.
Some will be bloggers, journalists, or business owners in adjacent industries.
I loved that one vendor had printed copies of a press release featuring her new product, and why it was so revolutionary. This made it easy to write about, and easy for a writer or member of the media to contact her for more information.
A press release can be short and to the point. It should briefly cover the Who, Why, What, How and When of your business, especially a newsworthy topic like a new product release or store opening.
Meet Your Fellow Vendors
While you’ll surely be busy, even overwhelmed while running your booth, try to take an hour to walk around and network with other vendors.
In the pet industry, making connections is vital. Everyone’s business is adjacent to yours. Start symbiotic relationships with businesses that have customers that would likely be interested in your product or service.
For example: pet sitters, groomers, vets and dog trainers all need lots and lots of treats, and usually settle for cheap, bulk biscuits that may be unhealthy or unpalatable.
Pet services can connect with treat sellers to get treats for free or at a discount in return for promoting the product, even selling the treat at their place of business. The same can work for sellers of dog toys, accessories and apparel.