Hey, look over here. Am I talking to you?
You’re an entrepreneur, a small business owner, or leader, and you’re trying to grow what you’ve got. Maybe you’re still trying to get things off the ground!
But, with 99% of businesses in the US being “small businesses”, how do you get noticed?
On today’s show, I’m back in the studio with Justin Lair, our leadership coach, and a serial entrepreneur, to talk about trade shows. What Justin calls “experiential marketing”.
Trade shows are the unsung heroes of many small businesses growth. In fact, last year, 70% of businesses credited trade shows for generating new leads and brand awareness.
Maybe they’ve looked expensive, confusing, or even a waste of time, but sit down with us as we sort through the various types of trade shows, and how to leverage them for your business.
We’ll unpack everything from pricing models to setting reasonable goals for the investment.
We hope you’re enjoying these guest episodes, and gaining some valuable perspective to help get your business off the ground, grow it, and get it unstuck and moving forward.
I would love to hear your feedback and questions! Send them to [email protected].
Enjoy today’s episode!
Enjoy today’s episode!
522 | Trade Shows (Experiential Marketing)
Chris LoCurto 0:00
On today's episode trade shows the unsung hero of many small business owners and entrepreneurs. But definitely not for the faint of heart that is coming up next.
Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are. Welcome to the show, folks, I hope you're having a fabulous day, wherever you are. Today we're talking about something that a lot of folks don't have enough information about. And that is experiential marketing, trade shows, exhibitions, all that kind of fun stuff. So that's what we're gonna hit today. And I'm excited to get into this. In fact, I don't know if it's something that we've ever really covered. Now, it's something I've done. I've been a part of many in the past years and years ago, decades ago, of being a part of those, but I don't think we've ever really dug into this on the show. So let's just kind of talk about what trade shows are. And then I'll introduce my guest, who's going to help us dig deeper. So at its essence, a trade show is an exhibition or a fare primarily held for businesses with a particular industry, to showcase their products, their services, and even their expertise. So it is it's usually open to the public.
But attendees are typically industry insiders, such as you know, dealers, suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, all that kind of fun stuff. And they're either looking to network or collaborate on business deals, or even find new products that they can sell. So dealers and suppliers looking to collaborate. Yeah, that could sound a bit sketchy. But here's the deal, folks. It's legit, right? So context is everything. So some of the shows can last a few days or, or even a week. And the point is that businesses have a chance to interact with their target market, right to gain insights into the industry or competitors. Because there's a really good chance you might be right next to somebody who's doing the same thing that you're doing. But it's also a great opportunity for them to promote their brands. So with all of that being said, I want to invite back to the show, our resident expert, Justin Laird. Justin, welcome back to the show.
Justin Lair 2:31
Thanks so much, Chris are excited to be here for this one.
Chris LoCurto 2:34
I'll yeah, I think this is a great topic for a lot of our clients. And here's the thing, I think a lot of folks out there immediately might be like, Wow, that's not for me, and they have no clue how this can be beneficial to them. So once again, our goal is to give as much perspective as we possibly can to help people make the best decisions, especially when it comes to trying to grow their business. So kind of speak into your background, you know, obviously, you know, serial entrepreneur, you've been doing this kind of stuff, forever, kind of speaking to what your background is here.
Justin Lair 3:06
Yeah, so I would trade shows, the majority of my previous businesses were service based businesses. And so like industry shows and things like that I didn't really go to like to sell my business because I was selling, you know, doing my services locally, wherever I was, I would go to some trade shows to like, learn about new technology, or tools or whatever that I might use. But I wasn't like going to the trade show as the business to sell my product or whatever. But when I started my company fiber light, it was my first adventure into the manufacturing of a product and actually selling a product and bringing a product to market. brand building was a big thing. And obviously selling the product was a big priority of mine. And so trade shows became something that I that I, I learned about and I experienced and I became a professional of doing trade shows. And it is one of the key things I can lean on that shows how I built that business by attending trade shows and, and being a part of that world. And I learned so much. And I learned how I used to look at trade shows and what my goal was. And I learned that I was totally wrong and in what the goal really should be at a trade show. And I think that that is missed by a lot of people and I would love to be able to jump into that and talk about that.
Chris LoCurto 4:29
Yeah, I definitely want to hit that and I think you know, we've so we have many clients that do trade shows, it's a consistent thing. We've guided many clients on getting out there being a part of this, all that stuff and and over the years. I also want to hit the objections that people have because a lot of folks just immediately assume this is too much work. It's too much outlay but also like you say a lot of people go with the wrong objective. Well, my objective is, is I'm gonna go set up a booth and I'm gonna sell 30% of my years probably Looks like the stuff that they have the wrong ideas. So I want to get into all of that. But first, let's give some perspective on you know, trade shows, conventions, industry shows, conferences, expos, job fairs, all of these things fall basically into three categories. What are those categories? Where do they where do these things fall into?
Justin Lair 5:24
Yeah, so we start out with what we call Consumer shows, these are shows that you as the business go set up your booth and the people that are going to walk in front of your booth are the consumers, you are actually going to be selling the thing that you sell, right, they're having that transaction right there. And they're typically open to the public, anybody interested in that thing, can go to this trade show and experience this and see, you know, all the other businesses in that industry. And so that's a consumer show, those are the shows that are most common that we've all been to, in most cases, then you've got your industry shows, these are different in the fact that they are typically not open to the public. The only people that are allowed to go our industry people, most of the time, they are buyers, they are, you know, other companies in that industry, you have to be able to you have to show that you are a business owner, oftentimes, during registration with these events, you have to prove you have to like show them your business license or show them your wholesale license, or you have to prove that you are a business owner in that industry to be allowed into the show. And then you have shows that are a mix of both where you get the consumers there. But there there also will have the buyers and an industry people there as well. So looking
Chris LoCurto 6:46
at the and I think I think everybody has experienced this at some point and may not even have realized it like if you've ever run a marathon, you know, half marathon or a marathon or if you've ever done, you know, look around or something like that. And you see sponsor boots, a lot of times folks just think of, you know, sponsor booths, which that's what they are. But there's many times like in the consumer shows, that really, you might some of these might be happening, and you don't realize you're a consumer, you might not realize that, Oh, I do want this product. You know, I I remember, when I began running half marathons, I never thought about that a consumer show would be happening as I went to a get my registration, and then had to walk through the 400 different booths that I stopped at probably 10% have to look at and go, Oh, I didn't even know that I needed this. You know, power gel is as I running. So there's all types of different experiences that we've had. And sometimes I think we don't even think as business owners that that's an opportunity for us. And so I really want to kind of get that in the mind of the leader or business owner of is this an option for you? But with that, I want to hit the second aspect of this, what are the pricings? And what are the expectations of these three different areas?
Justin Lair 8:17
Yeah, definitely. So we started out with the like, the consumer shows the general trade show, oftentimes your local fair, you know, you go to the fair to have fun, but you've got all the booths of the local businesses and things like that, that you could stop at and in spend money and buy their thing. Those ones are they can range from like free. If you've got just this local like craft show or something, oftentimes, the booths can be as low as just free to a couple $100 I think I would say upwards to maybe $800 for like the larger trade shows and conventions and things like that for your booth. Now, there is a psychology behind it as well. It's very interesting, once you dive into it, you have like an inline booth, you could have like a corner booth, you could have an island booth, these all will have different pricing, because you're going to be essentially be able to experience a different type of traffic right, where you're located in the convention, hall or whatever, how the flow of traffic flow is like your chance of seeing more people over here versus you know, in the back in the middle over here, or whatever the case is. And so those those booths will be different prices. The The other thing I want to talk about here is like we're in these consumer shows, you're going there to sell product and you if you're doing a good job and you're putting the work into, you know, to get people's attention to stop to your booth and you're showing them something that's of interest to them. Ideally, you're going to sell product and you're going to make your money back your investment of you know, going to the show and then some you know, in a perfect world So that's important to know that in these consumer shows, you're selling your product, and you're making money.
Now, the industry shows where it's they're not necessarily open to the public, there. It's only, you know, industry, people, buyers and things like that are going to be there, you're not necessarily going to expect to actually have transactions right there, where you're selling the thing, and you're receiving money from the person right there, and you're giving them the product. In most cases, that's actually not what's happening. You're talking with the buyer, and you're showing them what you guys do what your newest thing is, or whatever the case is, for the year for this season. And it's their opportunity to then be able to place like a big wholesale order, they could give you a PIO, right on the spot, typically, money is not transacted until after the fact. Or at least you're making them aware of the thing that you're selling, so that in the near future, they could send over a purchase order for you, right.
So it's not necessarily an opportunity to make the money in the moment. But it's an opportunity to set yourself up for purchase orders, you know, set up your pipeline and things like that, for purchase orders throughout the year, those shows typically, are much more expensive, they're bigger shows and you're looking at, I would say a low end, like $500 for a booth space, all the way up to like $30,000 for a booth today, some of these companies will have, I don't know if you've ever been to a show like this before, but they will actually have like two story booths. On the ground floor, they've got you know, their product, like just beautifully displayed and all this stuff. And then upstairs, they've got a meeting space that you actually have to set up time slots to to sit down with these people and have a meeting with them upstairs to discuss future purchase orders and things like that. So it could get wildly, you know, expensive. Or those elaborate, you know, Booth builds,
Chris LoCurto 12:03
you can put almost as much into your booth, as you're paying for the space to put your booth in. situations. Yeah, it's just insane. Yeah, yeah, I've seen some ones that I mean, and we've done some, we've done somewhere instead of just buying space, you know, we bought four spaces, and then put up this amazing, elaborate, you know, you call it a booth. But I mean, for the love, I mean, it gets so much more than just a booth. And like you said, time slots and you know, people coming in and being able to have conversations, and it all depends on the thing that you're trying to accomplish at the time. So as some people here, and by the way, when we look at like, the consumer side of stuff, that's always going to be your retail side, you know, the trade shows, the conventions, that kind of stuff. But what you're talking about right now is that wholesale side, that industry wholesale side, where you're getting the opportunity to reach many people who might sell your product for you, right, as opposed to the other shows, which is I'm hoping to sell all the individuals who walked by, right. So that's, that's also very important to distinguish in those.
Justin Lair 13:14
Yeah, and another thing too, is, these people have man, I would love to really talk to and get to know like, a person who has the job of a buyer for a large like for Walmart or for sporting goods or something like that. These people I promise, it's a part of their job description, they're not allowed to answer the phone, and they're not allowed to respond to emails. Because they don't, I don't know what the deal is, but you can't just call a buyer and he's gonna answer the phone. But where they do spend all their time is at the industry shows, they want to be able to touch and feel and see you meet you, and see your product. And that's where they will make the decisions on if they're gonna bring your product into a company like Walmart or, you know, big five or whatever the case is. And so that's what you're paying for, you're paying for that opportunity to get in front of these people of these massive organizations, massive businesses out there that are gonna sell your product at a just such a large scale and you know, getting into big box retail and things like that. That's where the buyers are. And that's how you get a hold of them. You could call you could try to call them all you want. They're not gonna answer their phone and they don't return phone calls.
Chris LoCurto 14:27
And I think that's so important for so many of our listeners to understand because I think so many for I don't think I know many folks start off their business by creating a product. And then they try contacting every big store every big, big box store, and trying to get to that buyer. And I'm not saying that you can't somehow finagle your way in maybe You have, but like you're pointing out, it is the buyer's job not to take that phone call. That is not the call that they want. That's not where they need to spend the time. Because there's 40,000 people calling them today to try and sell their widget. So if they took every one of those calls, they would never put anything in their stores, right? Because that's not how they get a feel like you said, they want to feel it, they want to touch it, they want to experience it. So if you're looking to get your product, into retailers, that's just not the way to go about it. I'm not saying that there aren't people out there who have somehow been successful at it. I'm just saying that they are the exception to the rule. Most of the folks that are if you're gonna get your product in that store, you got to get in front of the buyer with your product, they've got to be able to experience it, and see what it's like and, and know whether or not they want to go sell that for you. So what we're hitting here is a couple of different options. And what I want to get into next is for folks to actually what should their goals be.
But what we're looking at is two different aspects here. One is you getting your product in front of the people who will buy the individual product or multiples of your product, right? So how do you get straight to the consumer in a larger way than you're currently doing? And those shows are phenomenal, it's a great opportunity to find the right place. I think I know a lot of people that have a bad taste in their mouths for doing something like this because they just chose the wrong show. It doesn't mean that the show couldn't work for them. But if you have the wrong audience, then you're just wasting your time, right? So one, you got to get in front of the right audience for what you're doing. But also don't miss out on the opportunity to pick up somebody who's then going to take your product at a lower price point and distribute that thing out, because they have the ability to get in front of their customers with your product. So with that being said, what should be my goals? You know, how do I determine what goals I have for either aspect?
Justin Lair 17:15
Yeah, the interesting thing is, you mentioned you know, picking the right show and things like that. It's incredible. The amount of trade shows that there are for like, every industry if you sell purses, there are several trade shows that are just surrounded around selling purses, right? Every single industry has dedicated very specific shows for that industry. So picking the right show clearly is very important. So I remember when I first I remember when I went to my first trade show, the idea that they in the beginning, were all consumer shows, I was just selling my widget right to people that were standing in front of me, my goal was to go there and sell a bunch of it and make money. That seems like like the no-brainer, right? That should be the goal. I found out that that is actually no longer my goal when I go to trade shows anymore. It needs to be something that you're thinking about right there's obviously a big part of it, but there's a bigger part of it that I'll talk about here in a little bit but some of the things that you could think about, or that you should think about that are outside of just making the money selling the product. As you know trade shows if you went to the right one, the vast majority of people that are there are your people they are interested in the thing in the market the industry that you are in and so getting in front of them there's a lot of validation that happens there that is this is something that will take you from just being a mama pop, you know working out of my garage type thing to the perception of being a real business a real brand in the market an established brand in the market.
So there's a lot of value in brand building. And that should be something that is a goal of yours that you're focusing on that you're building a brand with people who care about the industry that you're in. And so when I started fiber lights I spent the entire first year on a national trade show tour my kids are homeschooled my wife and my kids are awesome and they're like, we support you. Let's go do this. So we went on the road for an entire year which is weekend after weekend after weekend for almost an entire year.
Straight of trade show after trade show after trade show. And I was fortunate I was very lucky for a lot of reasons and that we did very well in the trade shows like I never went to a trade show that I lost money on You know, with the travel and the, you know, the cost of the booth space and all that stuff, we always made our money back. And then some. But the thing that I didn't realize that was happening and now I understand is a very valuable goal in thinking about how these people would see me at this trade show. And then they're like, two months later, they would see me at another trade show. And my company was just present, the name of my, my brand was just present in the industry inside of the shows that that, that my people were attending, I was just always there. And so the brand building that happened from that organically, like, I didn't know that this was a thing until, you know, I experienced that. And I understood how valuable it was that name recognition and brand recognition were being built, for me just being present at the shows. And I started to realize that that is pretty valuable, like, it's starting to be more valuable than the actual sales and transactions that I'm having at the show, which is cool, and it's good, you know, for it to happen there. And for me to, you know, generate an income in the moment. But the brand-building thing allowed me to continue to generate income after the moment, right where it was, it totally helped build the brand, which was so important.
Chris LoCurto 21:22
There's a perception that starts to happen. And man, we did the same thing. I mean, we started off early going to show to get in front of a client, you know, get in front of somebody that is interested in something that we were selling, and later on, realized that we could own a trade show by marketing in the trade show. And it wasn't even, you know, you might outlay and this is what we would call a loss, littering, you know, you might lay out an incredible amount of marketing by putting, you know, those little non-glued sticker stuff in an elevator somewhere, you know, you step into an elevator at an at a convention center, and the doors closed, and there's our brand. And it's speaking specifically to you right, and it's like, then you would go walk down into the main floor. And as you're walking in between booths on the floor, you're walking over one of our ads and things like this. And what we come to realize is that the very thing that you're speaking about is that we could actually walk away from a show losing money and end up making more money. Because we're linked from that initial concept of, would you please buy my product to, you know, once you start realizing, oh, my gosh, the presence of the brand, is now becoming something that's drawing more people instead of just the product itself. Right.
Justin Lair 22:54
Yep, it has a life outside. After the show, right? Yeah, the thing about goals that I realized is that you know, initially, obviously, selling the product at the show was what I thought it was, although what I thought it was all about, what I ended up realizing on top of the brand building aspect of it, which was like life-changing for that brand, was relationship building. I ended up at, you know, now when I go to a trade show, I don't care how much product we sell. If I sold nothing, I'd be totally fine with that. Because that is not where the value is. It's hard to look past that. It's hard to think like what do you mean, you're going to spend money? You're not ever going to make any money how does that make any sense? The relationships that I've built at these trade shows have brought me 1020 30 times more revenue than the revenue. I mean, I've never made it to the show.
Chris LoCurto 23:59
And it's it's important to understand it's because who's there, you're not just making a relationship with a random person who wants to buy one of your products. Right?
Justin Lair 24:10
Yep. And it's not even necessarily the people that are walking in front of the booth. It's the other people in the industry that are there. That is even, like even more powerful of a relationship. I still today, go every October I go to a trade show that I don't have a booth at anymore. But I go there because it's like a family reunion these people that I've built relationships with, we want to go and see each other once a year. And these are some of the most influential and powerful people in the outdoor industry that I have where like family and I go just so that I could see them all again and they do the same thing. And we talk like oh, I can't wait for October you know, and I just Example. Jeff Kirkham Jeff Kirkham was one of the founding owners of the black rifle Coffee Company. He owns a ton of other companies. He's the number one best-selling author. This guy's an absolute Rockstar. I remember I met him at prepper con in 2017. He was there just in the industry. He owns several outdoor companies in the outdoor industry. And in the like prepper space. He was there as an attendee, and he walked in from my booth, I didn't know who he was, but I showed him the demonstration of my product, and he fell in love with it, I ended up finding out he gave me his business card, I ended up finding out that he was the owner of the black rifle and the owner of ready man and rats tourniquet and all these other outdoor industries like companies.
And we've built the relationship now he's my business partner and two of my businesses. I have made more money having this relationship with Jeff Kirkham than I ever did at all of the trade shows combined that year, I've made more revenue from the relationship I built with Jeff Kirkham. And I can tell you, like 10 other stories of the exact same thing. And so my goal now when I go to a trade show is is build relationships, I'm looking to shake hands, I'm looking to meet people, I'm looking to foster those relationships after the show. And that is where the true value comes from a trade show and where I think people miss, and they don't think about important, they're just so focused on Oh, man, I gotta, I gotta get people in front of my booth, I gotta show them my thing, and I got to sell them right now. Or else, this is a massive failure. And so you're so in the weeds of doing that you miss out on the most important thing from a trade show, which is the relationships that you build, not only with the consumer that's standing in front of you, but other industry, people that are in the booths next to you. And, those relationships are so powerful. It's, it's incredible.
Chris LoCurto 27:06
And I so there are a lot of folks that set out to do their first show, sell what you can definitely get out there, sell as much as you can. Obviously, that must be a goal as you get going, you know, if you're if right now, your goal with a show is to put food on the table, you know, to outsell your expenses, great, fantastic. But we have clients who've become friends, personal friends, over the years that are in the same industry, but different geo locations, right? So they continue, and I don't know if they all met at an industry show. But these are folks that all you know, one became a client a decade ago, and then the next one did, and then the next one did. And they all support each other in trying to accomplish and grow. They're, you know, their version of the same industry product and services that they provide. And that relationship is so they go and meet at trade shows and do the same kind of stuff. And we get together sometimes and do you know things that are just leadership-style stuff?
Justin Lair 28:21
So hold on, hold on, you need to tell me that you they're there your competitor, you're not supposed to hate them?
Chris LoCurto 28:28
Exactly. Right, exactly. And the reason why is because again, they are they're locked down to their location right there in three completely different states. They've got some distance between them. But the key is, is that they don't look at each other as enemies, they don't look at each other as I can't talk to you because you're trying to sell the same product idea, you're probably going to try and you know, wriggle your way into my area. They literally have become better friends than then business associates, if you want to call it that. And because of that it is I mean all three of their businesses have come through strapline you know, all three of their businesses. You know, I coach these guys and we have phenomenal business conversations and personal conversations. And they have continued to pour into each other. And so I think this is so incredibly valuable as we're talking through determining your goals. Obviously. If this is your first show, your number one goal is probably not I hope I can make a relationship that means a lot to me down the road. Your first goal is probably please outside my expenses. Right, right. Yeah, and that's understandable that you know, but it can't be your only goal. You know, it can't be your only goal to go in outsell your expenses, because then you're missing out on you know the exponential aspects of being there in the first place. Right?
If you unless you're just planning on one and done right I did one show, I'm only going to do one show, and I never plan on doing another show. It's just I'm doing this for the fun of it tickles and giggles, right? Whatever. If you understand the concept of of what Justin is laying out, then this can become one of your best marketing aspects of your business. Because not only do you get to sell your product, Whoo, that's great, fantastic. We're getting products sold out there. But you can build relationships with people that can come alongside you and help you out or injustice situation, somebody who jumps in and says, Hey, let's start a couple of businesses. Let's see, you know, we both have great business acumen, let's get out there and sell something else, right? And then it complements everything else that you're accomplishing. So I think we need to, you know, as you're looking at any of these aspects now, are you going to go and do an industry show and drop 30 grand right now? If you've never done one? No, I, unless you just have ridiculous amounts of money that you've got to burn, I would not suggest doing that. Would it be smart to get into some industry shows and test some theories out. And while you're there, pay attention to what everybody else is doing. Just that I'm sure you've done this. I mean, we've we used to walk around, we would have a couple of folks that just literally would just walk around had nothing to do with our stuff. You just walk around and see what somebody else is doing. Or you walk around and create those relationships, right? You just want to go and see, man, is somebody doing something better than us? Can we steal an idea from somebody? You know, or is there somebody out there that we can create that relationship with?
So I think creating that, and this is our goal for you, folks, is to be able to sit down with this level of perspective. And put together what are my goals? You know, how many of these events should I do? You know, as I'm looking at what Justin saying, the pricing and expectations and the travel and you know, does my family get to go with me or am I not get to see my kids for a year, you know, all of these different aspects are things you need to take into account. And again, this is what we call perspective gathering. Right? The greater the perspective you get, the better decisions you can make. And so it is not uncommon for one of our clients to be selling the bulk of their yearly sales, because of shows, right? They've got websites, they've got local footprints, they've got all kinds of stuff going on, to sell products. But they get out in some of these trade shows, which some people just hate the concept of going and doing. And it can end up being you know, half of the year sells or sometimes even more just kind of depends, you know, if you get into one of those industry sales, and who knows, you might have a box store that can pick up and distribute your product 1000 times better than you could, right if you if you had the blessing, it could be a blessing it might not be but if it turned out to be a blessing of getting into some of these bookstores. So here's what I want you guys to hear as we're talking through these, these processes here. And we're doing these shows to help you get a greater perspective on some of these areas that you may not be thinking about. This is what we do this is what our hope is, is that our hope is to be able to speak into your leadership to speak into your business, you know, to help you to come alongside you, and help you get that perspective that changes the way you do your business.
Obviously, you know, for all the folks that show up at our Next-Level Leadership Live Event. It's getting that powerful information that helps you to teach your leadership better to lead and guide your team better. So here's what I want you to do, I want you to head on over to Chrislocurto.com. And click on what we do, and see if we are the right fit for you and your team. If we can help you and your business team, your leadership team, then that's exactly what we want to do. We want to be able to get you the right information that grows your business. So Chrislocurto.com. Click on what we do. And let's see if we are the right fit for you guys. So again, just as we've done, I want you to take all this information and kind of summarize, you know, and offer advice to folks that are now seriously curious about this. And what are some specific recommendations you would give them?
Justin Lair 34:37
So with trade shows, I love this quote it says you can't be upset about the results that you don't have the work that you didn't do. Trade Shows are a lot of work. I can't tell you how many times I've been at trade shows and the company next door to us is upset at us. because we are air quoting, as I'm, as I'm saying this, we are stealing all of the people, like, there'll be, our booth will be the front. It's like three rows back, people just crowded around our booth, and there is nobody at the one next to us. And they think it's our fault that they don't have anybody at their booth. The reality is that I brought tons of people right next door to your booth as they walk away, you could grab those people, but they're upset at me, because we have all this attention, but they're sitting down at the back of their booth scrolling through Facebook. Yes, yeah. And it's like, and, Chris, what you said earlier about, like your first couple of shows, it's kind of hard not to have the goal of just selling the thing, you know, make the money, right? You're not going to do that by sitting at the back of your booth scrolling through Facebook, like at the end of the day of that show, you should have lost your voice, your throat should be hurting your feet, your feet should be hurting, because you're not sitting down, you're standing up, you're engaging, you're like in the aisle, you know, like barricaded people, right, you're like, Hey, you can't move past until you see, you're like the aisle troll, you know, you can't, you can't keep walking until you stop at my booth. But you've got to give them a reason to stop. You know, you've got to give them a reason to want to engage with you. And so it's, it's work. Luckily for us, I'd love to hit
Chris LoCurto 36:33
on this for just a quick second, I'm so glad you brought this up. Because there are two aspects we've all been to, you know, we've been to shows where we see that person I've been to shows, or the booth next to us, or just random booths, if you're just walking through the show itself, in somebody is sitting in a chair, legs crossed, arms crossed, you know, in front of them, staring at the people as they walk by. They're not even on Facebook, they're just sitting there waiting for somebody to ask them a question now. And on top of that, sometimes it's some young folks that work for the company that has no incentive to push this. This is an in my mind, this is a colossal waste. Yeah, here's the thing I want you to think about. Right. And so I know, guys, I'm a high s as well. I know the personality styles that what you just said about being the you know, the the troll out there in the aisle. There are people that like, oh, gosh, I could never do this. You're misunderstanding the concept here. It is not the jump out there and tackles people and be a nuisance. They are literally coming to this event to be talked to. These are not random people on a sidewalk in New York City that you're tackling and trying to sell a faux Gucci bag. This is somebody who actually wants to know what you have to sell. But here is what everybody else has experienced. And I will speak for myself, but I'm speaking for millions of people.
Every time I walk past a booth where somebody looks absolutely, you know, indifferent to my being there. It's a booth I will never go to, I am never going to stop and ask that booth, you know that person about their product. Because if you don't even care enough to just stand up and say, Hey, how are you doing? You know, try and draw my attention to your product. It just feels like well, You're so lazy. Why? How am I going to trust your product to be something that I want? Now? Yes, that is absolutely prejudice. I'm looking at the situation and making a quick, you know, judgment. But I will tell you that that is the usual when I stop and actually engage that person, what I get is continued laziness. You know, it's almost as if I've interrupted their day. And they have to tell me something about their product. But the person who was all about, you know, and again, because I want to know, I didn't come to this show, with no desire to be sold, I actually came to the show, what the, you know, the potential of buying things, it's not, you know, again, I want to make sure that people understand that, that I enjoy the person who jumps out there and wants to tell me about their stuff. I enjoy the person who's passionate about it. So I'm sure you've experienced that as well.
Justin Lair 39:31
The other thing with that is like, as you're looking down the aisle like you know, typically it's like traffic flows in one direction. You're looking down there and you're seeing who's coming up next. It's hard to not do this. And I'm telling you, I'm going through this because I don't want you to do this, but you look down there and you see, for example, so I'm at an outdoor show selling a fire starter product, right? I see a group of older ladies coming down the aisle. Like they're, they're not camping. They're definitely not starting Fire with a Ferrocerium rod, right? So like, I'm just gonna let them pass me without, you know, wasting my own time to try to see if they want to buy this product that they clearly aren't using, or aren't going
Chris LoCurto 40:14
to this is that the product is for them. Right?
Justin Lair 40:17
What I found, you know who buys the most amount of fiber like which you know, the fire starting product you want to know who buys the most?
Chris LoCurto 40:25
Well, you and I have not talked about this, but my assumption is going to be grandparents or parents.
Justin Lair 40:31
Absolutely the old ladies. They will buy so much of that stuff like stocking stuffers for their 15 grandchildren. Yeah, it's incredible. The other one that's funny. So you would naturally think like the outdoor-looking guy would be the one I want to talk to. Those are the ones that unfortunately have a whole lot of pride. It's like, Nah, I know how to start a fire, I don't need, I don't need starting a fire. The best one is when they're walking with their wife, and the husband is like, Nah, I don't need to stop at this booth. Let's keep going. And then the wife will turn around after the husband kind of went down a couple of booths, she'll turn around, come back, see my husband, actually, he doesn't need this stuff. So let me I'm gonna buy some without him knowing it. Because he actually needed it's hilarious. But anyway, all that to say that you know, in summary, I hope it wasn't heard that selling the product is not the goal. That's not what we were, we were trying to say, just there are other goals to be aware of that are equally important, or even at a different scale more important in a lot of ways, you know, when the show is said and done, you know, those relationships are, can be long lasting, and very, very lucrative and beneficial to you in a lot of ways. But because selling at the tradeshow is, you know, one of the things we're trying to do, you know, making sure that the people that are there at your booth, understand how important it is that, you know, you said it, Chris, just those people who are employees, who are tad like to today's your day to go sit at the booth, and they're like, you know, dang it, you know, this is gonna suck, and I'm just gonna sit there and scroll through my Facebook, you know, it's a colossal waste of time. And so I have, I'm always there, but I also I employee, ProStaff people that will run the booth. But, uh, but I'm always there so that I can I can build those relationships and not have to worry about doing the sales part so that I could just worry about, you know, the relationship side.
Chris LoCurto 42:42
Yeah, it's so smart. So all right, so how do people get started?
Justin Lair 42:46
So one thing is that is this picking the right show, doing some, some research to find those industry shows, because, you know, you do want to make sure it's the right show so that that person that's there is there for the same reason why you're there. And they're interested in seeing the new products, the new things, the new services, the new technology, whatever, around that industry. So making sure it's the right show. It's not a bad idea to you know, do your local fair, do you know, whatever, where it's just kind of a hodgepodge of everything, but you, but don't judge the potential of trade shows based on a horrible experience you had at the local fair, or whatever the case is, you know, when you start getting into very specific industry shows, it is a whole nother world, it is not what you will experience at a fair, you know, it's a whole nother world and there's so much potential there to sell your product, get in front of the people, build your brand, build relationships, and each one of those things are super important. So get started by trying it out. You know, do some local stuff so you could understand what it's like to stand there all day and talk about your product and get interest from people that aren't interested you know, and stuff like that. Because it is a practiced skill. You know, it is something that can be uncomfortable, weird, intimidating, or whatever. But once you do it and you build those muscles, it becomes easier and it becomes more fun and becomes more successful and all that stuff. So just get started by just going to do one, do a small one, do a local one.
Chris LoCurto 44:34
That's such a great point and plan on it not being everything you thought it would be if you go with the expectation that this is a practice. This is a practice run. This is a trial run, right? We're gonna go do this thing if we sell great if we make some relationships great, but if it flops well, okay, keep going get back on the horse too. Try it again. Right? Because it will take and I will say, and I'm sure you probably experienced this as well, you know, I was never, we did a lot of these trade shows, but I was rarely ever the person running, you know, in there actually running the booths, I would go and be a part and help out, you know, at expertise to it. But I remember the early days when some of them were just disappointing. You know, in this concept of man, we literally got nothing there. And what we would do is tear apart why we thought that was, you know, one of the biggest things you've got to do, you know, and you pointed this out so well if you go to sell fiber light, to 100, professional, you know, outdoorsman hikers who travel with the lightest amount of stuff, then the chances are, you're probably not going to sell a lot. Those guys are going to be like you said, more, you know, priding themselves on their ability to go and, you know, find Flint rocks and make something happen, or rub sticks together?
What, so you might be looking at this and going well, definitely the crowd is not the old ladies, you know, definitely that's not the people I want to be in front of, you know, or the spouses of the hiker. You know, it's, it's the person who does the thing. And the truth is, like you said, by far, the person who buys fiber light is not the person who it's intended uses for. It's the person who's buying it for that person. Yeah, and so making sure that you're getting in front of the right crowd is just paramount. Right, make sure that you're getting in front of the people who actually this is selling. And again, it doesn't mean that you're looking for grandmothers who are looking to purchase a fire starter kit, you're looking for grandmothers who are looking for another new idea that they can bless their children with something that speaks of Oh, my, my son would love this, my daughter would love this. So I think that's such a big aspect of this, get out there, do it in your local community, test that out. But for love, do not base your success on one event. Sit down, rip that thing apart afterward, you know, go through all the things that work that didn't work, go through the discussions that you had, write down all the learnings, you know, use it as a practice for you to step up and hit some bigger events, and then optimize the daylights out of it. So any last things that you'd like to share with our listeners today, Jeff?
Justin Lair 47:42
Yeah, if there is a big event that you're is kind of like the dream of like manna would love to get there one day, go to it as an attendee before you go to it as a vendor. Go to look and see and experience and ask questions and things like that. The other thing is, I remember the very first big industry show just in 2017 in Salt Lake City. I was so nervous because this was the like I was playing with the big boys. And at that time, my business wasn't even a year old yet. And I was just the smallest guy in the biggest pond. And I had a plastic you know, Rubbermaid fold-out table with a black tablecloth over the top of it. And I had one little licks-like expandable banner thing behind me that said my business name on it. And I didn't have any professional-like setup, you know, I just had a couple of my products sitting on the table. And in the middle of the table, I had a burning pan where we did some demonstrations and things, but it was not pretty in any way. Clearly, I didn't spend any money on buying all this elaborate, you know, tradeshow, Booth setup stuff. And so I was nervous that I would go in there and just be swallowed up by all these big guys around me. And I would look, I would be embarrassed or I just wouldn't look professional enough or whatever the case was, I just didn't know what I was doing. What I found, and this shocked me so much. I just happened to get so lucky that I was like the first aisle where you know, when you go to the grocery store, you have like a routine right? You like either go all the way to the right or go all the way to the left, and you start on that aisle and then you work your way up and down each aisle as you as you walk through. That's kind of what accidentally happened at this trade show.
So I was like the first aisle that the traffic just happened to come to when they walked in the front door. A lot of people came to my booth and it was the first you know, a two-second third booth that they saw and they're like, Man, I really liked this stuff, but I have a budget and I don't know what else is here and so I'm not gonna buy anything right now but I'm done keeping track of things that I might want to come back to them by after I realize everything that I want to buy and I look at my budget and see what I could afford. So I was like Okay, sounds good. They will go threw the whole show and the number of people that came back to my simple, very elementary booth to tell me that I had the best booth in the entire place. This is a urine lying to me this is this cannot be true because I see that booth looks really cool. And mine is not cool. They're like no, but it's, it's you. It's the whole presentation. It's how the product work. It's like the coolest thing that I saw at the entire show. And I couldn't, I just couldn't believe it. I it was amazing. And if I never just did it, I would have never done it, right? And those experiences, just continue to grow my experience and grow my knowledge of how this all works and what I could do better what you know, what's working for me, and all that type of stuff. And it was really, it was just really cool to experience.
Chris LoCurto 50:53
Crap. Okay, I gotta throw one last piece of information at it, folks, this is what we do our whole goal is to help you recognize and understand and put these things in place. There were times we would walk through and just ask the question if I don't talk to the person, can I understand what they're selling? If I just walked by the booth, there's no I loved I had the image in my mind, of seeing you. With that small table with the burn pan, there is no doubt I know exactly what you're selling. I mean, it just screams to me, you don't need a big banner. And obviously, your Banner had the name on it. But you don't need all this fancy flash, we would go by some booths and go, This is so busy and so noisy, that I just have nothing but confusion, I want to keep moving on. So I love that the simplicity of what you had is what drew people back to say this is the best, this is the coolest stuff, good stuff. And I love that this is you know, stuff that can be applied to so many different businesses. Now, obviously, you know, if when you're coaching somebody on this, you're definitely sitting down and getting all the perspective and guiding them individually to their business, their industry, their clients, and all that kind of stuff, right? I mean, when if you were to sit down with somebody individually, the information you're going to guide them on is going to be you know, exponentially, you know, beneficial because it's specific to them.
Justin Lair 52:31
So, if I was to be talking to somebody about this and the specifics, if they you know, wanted to go down this road or learn more in our get a better perspective to prepare, you're right in that it could be very specific, right, I mean, even down to like researching and looking for helping coach and guide to the right show. Helping coach and guide to gain that perspective and have those proper goals worked out. And understand that aspect of like, how much work is going to be involved in it that you know, what, what it takes to, to get everything out of it to draw the people in to, you know, sell the thing that you're selling, but But on top of that, to give yourself time and the opportunity to look for those relationship building opportunities, right? To look be able to look at the show, not as like, oh, all these people are my competitors. But to be able to look at it be like, how can these relationships, work in collaboration? And what is the benefit to that, and how to be able to adjust that perspective, because so many people are sitting there, it's like competition or like, I'm going to make my booth look better than your booth so I could get more people to sell more stuff than you can I'm going to, I'm going to you know, make sure that I I know what your product doesn't do so that I can tell them how my product does that better. Like it's all just a big competition. It's like there's a flow of people here and I just got to get all of them before you do you know. But although some aspects of that are things you have to think about, it's like, it's not actually the thing. The thing is relationship building with the people in front of you. But also the opportunities for late relationships with other people in your industry. I could go on and on and on about relationships I've built with people that would be my competitors other people would say why are you talking to that person like you you should be enemies with that person. No way not even close. Like we do things slightly differently. And I could help him in this aspect and he can help me in this aspect or whatever the relationship part of it is, in my opinion, the most important part of a trade show and your success or failure in that if you went to a trade show, and you're around all these people that are in the same industry as you, and you left without having a single person's phone number or email business card, with the desire to continue the conversation later. That's a failed show, in my opinion.
Chris LoCurto 55:18
Man, this is the difference. This is what I love about what we get to do. This is the difference of having quality input and perspective from an expert to help you because the moment you said it, the moment you said the competition piece, I can go back and re you know, remember conversations I had decades ago with people that that's their mindset. They literally are so focused on the competition at the event that they're missing the bigger goals. And they're not even thinking through specifically for them, what are the best goals. What's the best outcome, you know, so I love that you just shared that piece, because that's the difference of how you should go do this thing. And then you step into the arena, just like everybody else. So everybody's my competition, I've got to do better than that person, I've got to look better than that person, my boots got to be flashier than that person. And you completely miss out on the bigger goals. You know. So folks, I hope, hopefully, this is making sense. This is Grace Connect again.
Justin Lair 56:26
Can I give I want to give a very specific example? Please, yes, absolutely. How I could have looked at what are the other businesses there as a competitor in a way. So there's a company called Wilson Grizzly out of Canada, they make very high-end, portable, firepits. Basically, they're like metal and they fold up their titanium, they're very high-end, and they have accessories to them. So you could fold out the base of the portable fire pit and build your fire inside of that. So it's like it's safe. And you're not going to start a forest fire or whatever, right? And then there's accessories where you could put like, grill on top of it. So you could then grill your food and all this stuff. Love it. They were like right across from me. I could have assumed that they are my competition because they were selling a product associated with fire. I'm selling a product associated with fire. But I couldn't, because I'm looking at it from a different perspective. I'm like, that's a really cool product that they sell. How are the people that buy that product starting to fire inside of that product? Exactly. Right. So I walked over there as like, Hey, I just want to meet you know, we're both we both are fire experts with do fire stuff. That's cool. You know, what do you get going on? Like, how does it show me? You know, and we started talking? And that's why I asked the question. So how do your customers start the fires, I expected them to have a product that they sold, they sold ferrocerium rods, which just does the spark, if you take a ferrocerium rod over to a tree and you spark the heck out of the side of the tree, you will never like the tree on fire. It just doesn't work that way you need, you need that you need something to catch the spark and hold the flame initially. And like there's you know, you need something smaller, right? So they sold ferrocerium rods, but they didn't sell an actual like fire starter product that could be used with their ferrocerium rod. Well, what this turned out, as we got to know each other and built a relationship after the event, we ended up doing a white label contract where my product fiber, love goes into their packaging. And they sell their Wilson grizzly they call it to spark fiber, which cracks me up. But you could go and look at Spark Fiber by Wilson Grizzly. And the pictures of the stuff that is inside their packaging are my product is fiber I love it. And that came out of my desire to want to build a relationship and not see these people as competitors.
Chris LoCurto 59:06
This folks, is why you need great coaching and great expert advice. You know, don't just go and do this and not have great goals and not understand what all the possible results are coming from this. This is information that man hopefully you guys are soaking up. Because what a fantastic opportunity. And again, like I said the moment you said, I went back to that time, I went back to that time and those early days of seeing everybody just feeling like their competitors with everybody. And it's like you're just you're wasting your time because there's nothing but opportunity. So a great aspect. I love that. Good stuff, man. Thank you again for joining us on the show and giving so much of your expertise. Appreciate it.
Justin Lair 59:49
No problem. I appreciate you having me Chris, I had a great time.
Chris LoCurto 59:54
I will share with the group that you did strike the what do you call the stick again? I could never get this thing In this world,
Justin Lair 1:00:01
technically, it's called a ferrocerium. Rod, but we call it short Ferro, Rod.
Chris LoCurto 1:00:05
Okay, so the ferrocerium. Rod, you while you were speaking at the event on stage, and you had one of those rods out there, and you're striking that thing, and I'm like, this isn't going to set the building on fire. Oh, wait, that's right. You need the fiber-light stuff to go with it. There you go. But it was so funny because you're, I'm a professional Firestarter. I got this. So again, thanks, man. I appreciate it. Lots of good information. Folks, hopefully, this is helping you. Hopefully, this is another great marketing piece for you to potentially plugin. Please don't sell yourself short on this. If you're listening to this show, and you're like, I could never do that that wouldn't work out with me. Keep talking about it. Keep asking questions about it, dig in, and see if it can fit you. If it can, and if it's something that will work for you then by all means, figure out a way to go ballistic with it and have fun and like, as Justin said, create the relationships that will be even more powerful than just selling their products. So hopefully this has been helpful for you today. As always, we want you to take this information, change your leadership, change your business, and change your life. And join us on the next episode.