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Sunday Soundbite

5 things Retail Week Tech taught me about marketing

Chris Field
Chris Field

As a marketer, my time was naturally spent almost entirely with the exhibitors, and there were some impressive solutions on show that are already delivering value into UK retailers. These solutions were not all well presented or articulated, and while trade shows are never the easiest place to get a message across, here is some advice which works not just for exhibitions but marketing generally.

Make sure the guy you put up front is good at explaining your solution

I spoke to one start up and sensed that they had something important to offer, but I’m not really sure what it was. I had to do all the work, but still never really quite got there. I’ve checked my notes and they don’t help. Contrast this with a well-known in-store tech vendor and all was clear right from the word go. Whoever that guy was, give him a raise immediately; if you have only minutes to get your message across, you need people who can communicate.

Focus on the value

You may be re-imagining or redesigning or re-whatever retail. But what does that really mean? The show made it clear that the penny has finally dropped for an increasing number of retailers who know that change means change, so it makes sense to stop evangelising and start talking about the value that your solution delivers to these retailers.

Promote yourself before and after the show, not just during

Appearances at trade shows are often treated as activities somehow independent of both mainstream marketing and sales activities. Why? The people at the end of both activities, the customers and prospects, are the same. Those exhibitors that worked hard to fix meetings in advance had a good show; others that didn’t started blaming the organisers for a lack of traffic. It’s down to you I’m afraid to work it harder.

Listen to what retailers are telling you

I like tech tours because it’s a good way to guarantee that you will see a lot of retailers, but you need a mechanism for checking in with them to find out what they are interested in, or hopefully to find out what their biggest challenges are. We all know what is happening in retail generally; the really precious information is what is happening retailer by retailer. And too many exhibitors were so desperate to get through their pitch, that the retailers just had to stand there in silence.

Don’t stop

It is typical for vendors, often the smaller ones, to do a trade show and then retreat back into their own little world, or business as usual as we call it. The retailers will do the same and unless you made some kind of impression, you will already have been forgotten. Trade shows give everyone a lovely warm feeling that lasts around 24 hours. What now is your plan to re-contact all the people you saw, and also all the people you didn’t see?

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