3 Huge Mistakes Companies Make at NRF’s Big Show

Every year vendors spend thousands, even millions of dollars setting up booths, demos, and having parties around the National Retail Federation Big Show. But much of this investment never reaches its full potential because vendors neglect to take some simple steps that can turn their event from a good show to a great show. What are these mistakes?
Mistake #1: Not setting up the meetings pre-show
You need to approach your targeted prospects, analysts, and media so these meetings are set up before the show. The time is now to be making these appointments. I can’t speak for the retailers in attendance but I know as analysts we are each scheduled in 12 to 20 meetings from 6 a.m. to midnight for three days. It’s crazy. There is no time to walk up to a booth unless it is scheduled time.
Shameless plug time. To help with prospects, IHL has created a targeted list of likely attendees to the show called Sophia Knows Your Trade Show where we reversed engineered the NRF attendee list to help set up those meetings (not endorsed by NRF in any way). A second option is to work with the Retail Orphan Initiative in their booth promotions and have press, analysts and retailers help promote your booth for you. All the proceeds go to help vulnerable children in need. For more information, contact [email protected].
Mistake #2: Incomplete demos
Often demos are missing “real” data that shows the functionality of systems and what they can do. This is particularly true when it comes to showing off your secret sauce. As a group we report and analyze, we don’t brainstorm well in that environment — you have to show us.
What makes you special? Make sure there is enough data in there to really help your system shine. If possible, see if a client will allow you to use a couple of hundred or thousand records that you can customize to show off real sales, real basket analysis, real back end reporting. Trying to leave it to the visitor’s imagination to think about all the system can do is a recipe for failure. I have seen more vendors fall on this point than any other. They spend up to $1 million around the show on dinners and sponsorships, but blow it in the core demonstration. Nothing stands out more than your secret sauce. Make it memorable. We are going to see 10 to 20 solutions showing the same basics with the same buzzwords, it’s hard to remember it unless you take the time to stand out. And that last yard in the demo is huge.
Mistake #3 – Not having handout for press/analysts
As mentioned earlier, the typical analyst/media person has more than a dozen meetings every day and even the best of us come away from the day with our minds jumbled. You give the same presentation 20 times. We hear 20 different presentations but they all sound the same. Having a one-pager containing the key messages you want us to take away from our time together is crucial. Even better, send it again the week after the show so it is reinforced in our minds when we are writing our recaps of the show.

I think the best interaction explaining this phenomenon happened after midnight on the top of the Marriott when Jim Crawford asked me what I saw today. “I saw 20 things that could change the world, but I can’t remember a single one.” That’s the life of an analyst or media member at NRF. If you want to grab the attention of these influencers, focus on your secret sauce, forget the buzzwords (we will hear Big Data, Mobile, Analytics, and Omnichannel in every meeting), and tell us/show us what makes you special and who is using it. That’s what stands out. And if you can, schedule a pre-brief or post-brief. Do not dump a big press kit or give us a USB drive filled with nonsense. There is not enough time in the day. The press kit will end up in the garbage and the USB drive will be used for a kid’s project at school. Provide a one-pager, focus on your strengths, and follow-up soon after the show.
For related content:
NRF 2014 Preview Guide: The Big Show Gets Bigger
RetailROI Celebrates 5 Years of Making a Difference
Top 5 Must-Attend Events Outside the Javits Center
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds