Are You Ready To Play In Retail’s Major League?

At the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Big Show, there’s no kidding around. This massive expo is the flagship event for everybody who has a product or service that serves the retail industry. And interested parties are present — en masse.

At Write2Market, we are still securing media coverage and reaping the benefits of connections made and conversations had at the 2015 Big Show. And it happened more than seven months ago. Yeah, it’s that powerful.

An NRF Big Show done right will leave you with countless sales leads, new business partner relationships, expertise in the latest industry trends, and media coverage for your company. But making a splash at the show requires a commitment of time and energy, and you’ll leave empty handed and frustrated if you don’t bring your A-game.

NRF Big Show

At the NRF Big Show, you better be ready to bring it. [Photo by Universal Studios]

Getting the most from the Big Show requires a big plan. In fact, proper planning should begin at least three months in advance, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about it.

What does a proper plan for NRF look like? Glad you asked. Here’s how to bring it to the Big Show.

    1. Get your messaging down. This is the first rule of any real PR campaign, but this show puts it to the test. If you can’t explain who you are, what you do, and why it matters in 30 seconds or less, you’re doomed. On this floor, you’re one of 30,000 people and are competing with all kinds of eye catching and sexy technology. There’s a lot of noise, and being able to cut through it is vital.
    2. Make news. CNBC broadcasts daily from the show floor. We even saw Anderson Cooper checking things out. Everyone who covers the retail business is there, and they are all looking for stories. This is the time to release any big news story that you have, whether it’s a new product, partnership announcement, new client, expansion, research, etc.
    3. Prepare to pitch early. The Big Show is chaotic. Journalists attend with full schedules and plans of their own; they’re unlikely to add you to their calendars at the eleventh hour. Outreach to them should begin at least three weeks prior to the opening day and major press releases should be ready to go a week ahead of time. Arming journalists with advance copies will allow them time to prepare their stories earlier, which helps guarantee you don’t get left out when they get busy at the show.
    4. Research for your meetings. You probably already know that people do business with people who they like. You’ll surely meet new people on the fly and have to wing your people skills, but planning as many meetings in advance as possible and researching the people you will be meeting with gives you more opportunity to find common ground. That Wall Street Journal writer may be a super Game of Thrones fan just like you — but you probably won’t know it unless you do your homework first. Learn as much as you can about the professional and personal interests of anybody you will be meeting with.
    5. Bring an expert. Unless you’re a seasoned trade show pro, the Big Show isn’t a good time to go it alone. If you’ve prepared wisely, expect to be tied up in meetings and checking the floor out most of the time. Having an advocate working the press on your behalf will help you to get more coverage, especially if it is a seasoned pro who already knows many of the journalists who are covering the show.

Sound tiring? It’s not over yet. Following up after the Big Show is one of most important things you can do; don’t let any of those leads fade away! And your PR team will be actively working the conversations they had and relationships they built on your behalf for months.

Right after the show wraps is also the time to review all the trends you saw and buzz you heard because next year, you’re not going to just attend the show, you’re going to be part of it. NRF begins accepting speaking submissions for the following year’s event a few weeks after the Big Show wraps up, and you want to be ready to deliver a killer proposal that they can’t say no to.

At Write2Market, we’ve brought several clients to NRF’s Big Show and achieved big results that pay dividends for months. We can help with every aspect of standing out from the crowd and making the trek to New York the most fruitful trip that you take all year. The time to start preparing is now.

We’re ready…are you? Join Joé Lloyd, Director of the Retail Practice as she shares insights on How to Rock Your Next Trade Show.  Sign up TODAY!