Attending mattress shows can be costly and time-consuming. Preplanning and post-show reviews can make the most of your time there.
A few years ago, Riley’s Furniture & Mattress, an independent retailer in Monroe, Ohio, took a planeload of employees to the High Point Market in High Point, North Carolina, so they could explore the latest trends, better understand the process of shopping for products at a show — and have a little fun, too. You don’t have to be quite as extravagant, but consider rewarding star managers or retail sales associates with a trip to the next market. You’ll benefit from walking the show with team members who have a fresh set of eyes.
Here are five other ideas for making your next market trip the most rewarding yet. They come from writer Phillip M. Perry, who wrote about attending industrial trade shows in the March issue of our sister publication BedTimes. But the guidance applies equally to retailers attending furniture and mattress markets, like the Spring High Point Market April 25-29 or the Summer Las Vegas Market July 26-30.
- Get ready to win. “Each person attending the show must plan in advance to take the right steps after returning. That means having an answer to the question: How will I maximize the contacts I make with show exhibitors and other individuals I meet?” Perry writes. This might mean collecting business cards and product literature, or snapping photos of product introductions and interesting merchandising ideas. If it’s allowed, record or videotape speakers to better remember their talks.
- Set specific goals. Peruse the show guide in advance, deciding which vendors you want to see most, being realistic about how many you can speak with in a day. Pencil educational sessions and parties into your schedule, too, Perry suggests. If you’re taking a team to market, “don’t walk the show in a pack,” he says. Instead, split up to cover more territory and reconvene each evening or the next morning to review and plan.
- Debrief. When you get back to the office or store, “ask attendees to share what they learned with their co-workers,” Perry says. “What were their impressions of the show? What did they learn from exhibitors about new products? From seminar speakers and colleagues about critical trends in the industry?” Put the debrief on the schedule before you leave for the show so it doesn’t get forgotten or pushed aside when you return.
- Review show practices. “Good trade show follow-through includes reflections on how well the attendees used their time and how they might improve their technique the next time around,” Perry says. You might even have the team members you took to market each come up with three ways the next show could be more effective or efficient, he suggests.
- Share your knowledge with customers. As you walk the show, you should pick up on improvements in mattresses and other sleep products that you can work into conversations when those new products hit your store floor. You also can borrow effective ways market vendors demonstrated their products to improve your own sales presentations.