Show Time

TRADE CON­FER­ENCES ARE A GREAT ONE-STOP SHOP where you can scope out a po­ten­tial mar­ket and find the con­tacts you need. Al­li­son Boul­ton, a Van­cou­ver-based con­sul­tant with As­lin Canada Trad­ing, which rep­re­sents B.C. food and bev­er­age com­pa­nies in Asia, shar

BC Business Magazine - - Small Business -

TAKE A LONG WALK

You don't have to pay the thou­sands of dol­lars typ­i­cally re­quired for a booth. Just show up and look around. You can do your mar­ket re­search, hear the speak­ers and make all kinds of valu­able con­tacts: dis­trib­u­tors, re­tail­ers, ware­housers, graphic de­sign­ers, cus­toms bro­kers and freight for­warders.

SIZE UP YOUR COM­PETI­TORS

Trade shows give you a chance to test the mar­ket in many ways–and see who else is al­ready there. Boul­ton re­calls her first wine trade show, rep­re­sent­ing B.C. winer­ies in Shang­hai. “I had no idea so many places around the world made wine. North Carolina, Turkey, Tu­nisia. I said, `You guys make wine?' and they're like, `Yeah, that's what we think of Canada.' We were all there try­ing to sell to the world's hottest mar­ket.”

WORK ON RE­LA­TION­SHIPS

There's a lot of dead time at trade shows, and maybe that's your chance to spend time with one of your part­ners. “If your Aus­tralian dis­trib­u­tor has a booth, and you fly in from Canada, it gives the dis­trib­u­tor an el­e­vated sta­tus: `meet the Cana­dian be­hind the prod­uct,'” Boul­ton ex­plains. “Plus you can get to know your dis­trib­u­tor, be­cause there's al­ways going to be hic­cups. It's eas­ier to work out your prob­lems when you've spent a few hours with some­one.”

PLAY TO YOUR AU­DI­ENCE

Learn about the mar­ket where you're land­ing, and cater to it. “Most peo­ple in Korea speak beau­ti­ful English, but when I did a trade show there I had all my brochures trans­lated,” Boul­ton says. “I re­ceived so much feed­back. I was one of the only ones who did that.”

DON'T LUG YOUR SWAG

If you have a booth and you're giv­ing away logo-printed free­bies, have them made at your des­ti­na­tion and de­liv­ered to your booth for one less thing to carry. ”There's a kind of ink that Canada al­lows that the U.S. doesn't,” Boul­ton notes. “So if you bring 1,000 pens across the bor­der, you're going to get some ques­tions.”

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