I love your watch, but are you a brand ambassador?

I recently attended the Fabulous Food Show in Cleveland to gauge what’s hot in the food industry. The show produced a wide spectrum of brands from the largest duck producer in the country to local barbecue sauce companies. One distinguishing trend emerged from brands large to small. Within five seconds of viewing a company’s booth or talking with the owner, it was apparent who was truly invested in the brand and who was just a clock-watcher that day. By far most people truly cared about the brands they represent, but for the select few who were just earning a paycheck during the show, the bigger question is if you don’t care about your brand, why should consumers care?

This speaks to the importance of brand ambassadorship. A wise philosopher somewhere spoke to having to love yourself before others can love you. I say the same applies to brands. At all levels of a company, it’s so important to get everyone to buy into what a brand stands for and its aspirations. Once this top-down brand structure is in place, it’s time to connect with your customer brand ambassadors. These are the people who love your brand so much they’re willing to tell their family and friends about it. They should be seen as an extension of your marketing team because what’s more powerful than word-of-mouth endorsements from trusted friends! Catering to these ambassadors should always be a part of your marketing program. It may range from tough to painstakingly difficult to reach brand ambassadors, but lifelong customers can be your reward. Not to mention a ready-made test market.

Start inside and make sure you have a team of brand ambassadors internally. They’ll likely develop some foolproof ways to reach external brand ambassadors. Once you have brand ambassadors on your side, you’ll have a group of customers who will excitedly anticipate and promote everything your brand does instead of constantly staring at the clock.

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Hurricane Sandy prevents several companies from exhibiting at IHMRS

Although IHMRS sent a pre-show/post-Sandy email that assured “…all areas of the Javits Center remain fully available to the IHMRS” they didn’t mention that IHMRS also offered exhibitors the chance to back out because of shipping and other concerns. Nor did they mention that several companies lost their displays when the staging warehouse flooded in New Jersey. The disaster kept away about 5% of exhibitors. Others performed heroic feats to ship in additional equipment and cobble together a stripped down booth at the last minute.

Construction Services and Hotel Operations exhibitors are growing at IHMRS, while Foodservice is shrinking. Meanwhile, more foodservice equipment and supply manufacturers are grouping small exhibits within a large, local distributor such as M.Tucker.

The aisles were not all that crowded from the projected 30,000 attendees. Yet, most of the exhibitors with whom we spoke were satisfied with the show. Serious buyers did attend. NYC pulled itself together. Overall, the mood among the exhibitors and attendees was cautiously positive.