As I sit here in the kitchen of Sheri and Eli Gurock, owners of Magic Beans, having a chat about the upcoming ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, my mind races back to one year ago when I first attended ABC. To say it was a learning experience is putting it mildly. Since then, I’ve attended every major trade show in New York. I do enjoy trade shows, but there’s a special place in my heart for ABC. Maybe it’s because it’s the most pertinent show to my career? Maybe it’s because of the parties? I’d also like to think that it’s because it has become a reunion of friends I’ve made over the years now. I cannot wait to see familiar faces and meet new ones in less than two weeks.

I’ve recently had a few bloggers contact me regarding the ABC Kids Expo, and many of them ask the same thing:

How do we handle it?

Well, the Gurocks and I have put together a little list of tips, tricks and etiquette for bloggers and other on-line media attending this massive show. We hope you enjoy.

1.#SussUpYourStats: If you’ve not reaching a wide audience, and your Twitter and Facebook numbers are relatively low, it might not be worth the substantial investment to attend. Travel, hotel, food and business supplies all add up. If your site isn’t known, chances are companies will spend very little time with you, if any at all.
2.#PlanOfAttack: Plan Your Days. Use the floor plan. Make a list of priorities and reach out to manufacturers accordingly to arrange appointments. If you’re not making appointments, and a vendor is too busy for you that day, be mindful of that and ask when you can return.
3.#Non-BuyerBeware: If you’re getting in the way of buyers, people will be less-than-thrilled with you. Remember why vendors are really there: to get their product into stores and SELL it.
4.#GiveawayGoons: Everyone does giveaways—even retailers. Come up with something unique to offer a manufacturer by way of promotion, BRING IT.
5.#TweetsOfTerror: If you are having a conversation with a human being, please maintain eye contact. Manners are often lost in the race to “scoop” a product. Several vendors have told me how frustrating it is to be talking to someone who is Tweeting nonstop. Tweets can wait. Coming from me, that says quite a bit.
6.#LittleOlMe??: Why are YOU at the show? What are your objectives? If receiving free product is your reason for attending, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you’re there for swag, it gives all other media attending a bad name. Trade shows can either be an AMAZING opportunity for networking within the industry and building a reputation, or for getting yourself quickly removed from a “Media Contact” list. The choice is yours.
7.#NegativeNancy: Be sensitive of conversations you’re having with vendors and stay professional. Have negative feedback? Do it in private. EVERYONE is listening at ABC, and word gets around.
8.#PolishedPackage: Create a handout with stats, press kits, and info about your site. Who are your readers? What community are you reaching? There are 10,000 bloggers reviewing product. How are you different? What is your niche?
9.#Overkill: Be mindful of your note-taking accoutrements. You might think you need a phone, SLR, flipcam, notebook and voice recorder. They’d all come in handy, but you’ll look like Inspector Gadget and you’ll waste a lot of time—both for yourself and the manufacturer.
10. #CloseoutSale: Shopping for samples? Wait until the end of show and be prepared with CASH.

In closing, just remember. This show can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work for a LOT of people. Above all things: BE RESPECTFUL. It’s amazing what a smile, a hug, and genuine interest will do.

Interested in tips for vendors exhibiting at trade shows?  Check out Sheri’s Blog at SpillingTheBeans.


DON’T FORGET my ABC Kids Expo Twitter Party!!!


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