Author: Michaelean Pike
With everything from exciting new products and exceptional Show discounts to educational seminars and celebrity meet-and-greets, the annual ATA Trade Show is a whirlwind of activity.
For three short days, attendees hit the Show floor looking to stock their shelves, speak with manufacturers and distributors, and pick up tactics that give them an edge on their competition.
With over 600 exhibitors taking up 528,000 square feet of floor space, the 2019 ATA Show promises to be better than ever. But with so much to do and so few hours to do it during the Show’s Jan. 10 to 12 run in Louisville, Kentucky, attendees must invest planning time to ensure they accomplish everything.
Determine what will most benefit your business at the Show and focus on activities that will do just that. Photo Credit: ATA
Establish Your Goals
The first step to making the most of your time at the ATA Show is to establish big-picture goals. Some goals seem obvious. Many retailers, for example, want to write orders at discounted Show prices. That’s great, but don’t overlook other benefits of attending the Show.
Anthony Schmidt of La Crosse Archery in Onalaska, Wisconsin, has three goals at the Show. “The first is social media,” he said. “A lot of people want to be part of the Show, and the videos we post on social media allow them to feel like they’re part of it.
“The second part is sales forecasting,” Schmidt continued. “And the third is probably the most important, but it’s the hardest to make a return on investment on, and that’s culture.”
The La Crosse team uses its eight-hour drive to the Trade Show as an opportunity to discuss the year without the routine interruptions of a walk-in business. By discussing what they’re excited about, what frustrates them and what they must change, they create a cohesive team culture.
“The drive down to the Show is arguably the most important eight hours we’ll spend all year,” Schmidt said.
Sit down with your team well before the Show to outline your goals. At this stage, you don’t need details. You know you need to place orders, but you might not know exactly which manufacturers you must visit. That’s fine. These big-picture goals help guide later planning decisions.
Do Your Homework
Once you set your goals, it’s time to gather information that helps craft your Trade Show plan.
Retailers who plan to order most of their 2019 inventory during the Show should review 2018 sales information to determine which products, product categories and manufacturers to focus on.
Schmidt uses technology to make this process easier. “Our POS (point-of-sales software) offers a 12-month sales history that tells us, for example, what arrow rests at what price points sell at what time of year, and it tells us how many,” he said. “It’s a very simple way to digest information.” Schmidt said a good POS costs a few thousand dollars annually, but could easily save you $50,000.
Our app is a great way to keep track of the events you want to go to all in one place. Photo Credit: ATA
Using ATA Resources
Technology can also help with other pre-Show planning. The 2019 ATA mobile app, available through Google Play and the iTunes store, is a vital planning tool for Trade Show work. After downloading the app to your smartphone, you’ll have access to a Show schedule, seminar list, booth map, booth-events schedule, and a list of exhibitors specified by company and product category.
In addition, all registered companies receive an information packet by mail. This packet includes the schedule of events, exhibitor list, seminar brochure, parking information and other details. Look for this mailing around Dec. 20. You’ll also find the schedule of events on the ATA website. Seminar information is also available.
Also decide how you’ll reach the Kentucky Expo Center. If you plan to drive there, you can save time and money by purchasing a parking pass before the Show. If you plan to take a shuttle from your hotel, review the shuttle schedule on our website.
Make a Plan
Armed with this information, you can develop an attack plan based on your big-picture goals.
If you’re at the Show to place orders, take what you learned from your 2018 sales reports and create a list of manufacturers you must see, and a list of manufacturers you want to see if you have time. Find those manufacturers on the booth map, and draft a rough schedule. You want to minimize time wasted by crisscrossing or backtracking the Show floor. Do your best to arrange booth visits based on their location and proximity to each other.
Try to schedule meetings with your most important manufacturer partners. That reduces time spent waiting for someone to help you, and lets you plan your days more precisely.
If one of your goals is to find exciting new products for your shop, ask other retailers what they’ve seen on the Show floor, and schedule time to visit the Featured Products area to see some of the industry’s coolest new products.
If education and better retail practices are part of your 2019 goals at the Show, plan your must-see seminars, consider becoming a certified archery instructor and check out the new ATA Coffee Talk series in the My ATA area. These casual educational sessions encourage attendees to meet ATA staff and discuss a variety of topics.
If, like Schmidt, you want to engage your customers through social media, note the booth events they’d like to see covered. You should also assign team members to take photos or videos for social media, and post them to your platforms.
Use the 2019 ATA mobile app to build your itinerary. Having your plan on your phone helps keep you focused during the Show.
Make sure you schedule yourself some free time to simply walk around the show and see what catches your eye. Photo Credit: ATA
Schedule Some Free Time
While planning your time at the Show, it’s also important to build free time into your schedule. That can make you more efficient. If you see an intriguing new product while heading from one important booth to another, make a note to return during your free time. That keeps you from derailing your schedule while providing the freedom to make spontaneous booth visits.
Be sure you give yourself time to wander the Show floor. Also check out the Innovation Zone to see products from new exhibitors, meet ATA staff in the My ATA space, and network with other industry professionals whenever possible.
The ATA Show is three days of nonstop archery. Make the most of that time.