SupplySide West will be even bigger this year because show organizer, Informa Markets, has expanded to include Food ingredients North America (FiNA). Whether you’re an exhibitor or an attendee just walking the show, it can be an overwhelming experience. I go to a lot of trade shows, conferences, and industry association meetings, and I’m always looking for new ways to make the most of my company’s investment when I hit the road. Here are some ways you can make the most of your time Oct. 15-19, 2019 in Las Vegas.
1. Take advantage of industry association meetings.
Trade associations like the United Natural Products Association (UNPA) and the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) take advantage of the fact that their members are in town and schedule side events for members and committees. These gatherings help highlight the key issues the industry groups are addressing, but they’re also a great way to network with your peers and prospects. If you’re not a member of these organizations (yet), you might want to reach out to their staff and request to attend to help you explore membership.
2. Take advantage of educational programs.
Informa Markets curates a full schedule of educational events during SSW and FiNA. It’s a great way to stay on top of industry trends, regulations, and hear case studies from industry leaders who are navigating the food and dietary supplements market just like you. With programs planned on regulatory training, innovation, plant-based nutrition, and CBD/hemp, and other novel ingredients, there are sure to be topics that can help you glean new insights. Shameless self-promotion plug: I’ll be leading a panel discussion on Friday on “How Digital Transformation Accelerates New Product Development.” You should check it out. With major shifts in consumer priorities and changing sales channels, pressure for food, beverage, and supplement companies to innovate is at an all-time high. Yet the new product development process is rife with challenges from poor collaboration to fragmented supply chains and internal silos. Old school ways of sourcing, communicating, and collaborating have evolved through digital transformation. During this 30-minute session, you’ll hear how leading companies are solving NPD challenges and speeding innovation. Mark your calendar to come to SupplySide Central stage (booth No. 5759) at noon on Friday, Oct. 18.
3. Take care of yourself.
Trade shows can do a number on your feet with all the walking and standing around. The exhibit space is big and so is the Mandalay Bay complex (if you’re lucky enough to be staying on site). A work trip to Vegas might sound fun, but it’s hard work. There are networking receptions and dinners where you might be tempted to go “all-in” with a few too many drinks. Moderation is key. You’ll thank me in the morning. And speaking of morning, plan to take advantage of the wellness yoga at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and Friday morning. It requires a separate registration so plan ahead.
4. Connect immediately.
In the digital age, some of us are asking ourselves if business cards are still relevant. You go home from the show with a stack of cards and if you were smart, you scribbled something on the back of the card to remember what you talked about. Tech-savvy people expect to connect digitally these days so why delay making a connection with your prospect until you get back from Vegas? When you meet someone, send them an email from your smartphone immediately and reference the next step in the email. And go a step further and connect with them on LinkedIn right away and to make the next tip even more fruitful.
5. Be social.
You might think social media posts are just for interns or your marketing team, but think again. Take a photo with a prospect or their booth and tag them on LinkedIn or Twitter. When you make the effort to make a connection, it goes a little deeper than just exchanging business cards, and you’ll increase the likelihood that your follow up after the show will lead to something more.
6. Get free exposure.
TraceGains offers suppliers a free platform where suppliers can promote ingredients and finished goods to the top food, supplement, and CPG companies. TraceGains Market Hub is an online sourcing tool where suppliers can create a free account and upload their entire catalog. SSW and TraceGains have teamed up to highlight the companies who have demonstrated a commitment to supply chain transparency. TraceGains has a training room – MR1B – where attendees can schedule time to learn more about creating a Market Hub listing for your company or enhance the one you already have.
7. Get in for cheap.
If you haven’t already registered to attend SSW/FiNA, I can hook you up with a badge that will set you back just $99. Register here and use discount code TRACEGSIN99.