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It’s the first week of the new year, which in the world of promotional products means one thing: trade show season. Over the course of the next two months there will be the biggest international trade show (PPAI Expo), two very large regional tradeshows (ASI Orlando and ASI Dallas), and countless trade shows held by regional associations (The TOM Shows, PPAMS, etc.). Each of these events provide virtually limitless opportunities to attend education sessions, network, and build relationships that will pay dividends throughout the year.
There are few events more exhilarating – or exhausting – to a distributor than a promotional products industry trade show. From the miles walked to the unusually late nights, it can be challenging to get the most out of your show experience. To help you as you prepare for the show season, here are three ways to use any trade show to catapult your sales year:

  1. Be a Professional – This may seem obvious, but if you’ve done any amount of people watching at an industry trade show than you already know that the level of professionalism, especially among distributors, needs to be elevated. By being a professional I mean being respectful of suppliers’ time, engaging with them, and not begging for high-dollar samples. As a distributor, you can walk off the show floor at any time whereas a supplier simply can’t so be mindful of their time and why they are there – to help you grow your sales.
  2. Ask the Right Questions – It continually amazes me how many distributors stroll into a supplier booth and ask, “what’s new?” which is the worst possible question to pose. Instead, ask a supplier to tell you what their top three selling products are and after they answer, ask why. Only then ask what the new products are. Doing so will give you a tremendous amount of insight into how to position the popular products with your clients who crave them alongside the new products you want to show them.
  3. Case Histories – Every supplier has countless tools that are specifically designed to help distributors sell more, none more effective that a case history. Remember, your clients buy stories far more than they will buy features and benefits. When discussing client projects with suppliers at a trade show, ask them for relevant case histories which will both showcase their product and your expertise to your client.

The first week of the year begins the gauntlet that is the promotional products trade show season. It can simply be a time to reconnect with friends over drinks or it can be a time to get your sales year started off right by working with suppliers and making the most of each trade show opportunity. As always, the choice is yours.

ill PetrieWritten by:
Bill Petrie // PromoCorner President

Bill is president of PromoCorner, the leading digital marketing service provider to the promotional products industry, and has over 17 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, immediate past president of the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), vice president of the Regional Association Council (RAC) board, and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, and developing branding that resonates with a target audience. He can be reached at