The National Restaurant Association Show 2014 Planning Starts Today

The biggest industry tradeshow of the year – regardless of industry – serves as a measuring stick for a company. The big show – the National Restaurant Association Show – for one of our biggest industries – foodservice – is just wrapping up in Chicago. According to the Chicago Tribune, there were 33 companies at NRA hoping to get your iced tea business. So how do those 33 iced tea brands measure up to one another?

It boils down to honesty. Certainly each of those companies took a little bit of time to stroll past the other companies’ booths and assess how they’re marketing their brands. Each brand needs to be honest with itself about marketing.

  • How is the brand positioning itself?  What’s the differentiator?  What’s your differentiator?
  • How big is the booth?  What does it say to attendees compared to your booth?
  • Did my competitors’ booths have more traffic than my booth?
  • Were they offering strategic giveaways?
  • Did my booth get enough targeted traffic? 
  • What about product itself? Price point? Promotion? Distribution?
  • Am I well positioned to convert my show leads into qualified prospects once the show is over?
  • Did my competitors have more innovative products?

These questions may not specifically apply to your brand. The point is there is a lot of competition out there. I like iced tea as much as the next guy, and the U. S. restaurant and foodservice markets are substantial, but I don’t think there’s enough demand for 33 iced tea companies to thrive. You could substitute china companies, refrigeration companies, point-of-sale system providers, or many other manufacturer categories for iced tea companies and the same questions and lessons would apply. The smartest, well-positioned brands will rise to the top.

My challenge to all brands after the NRA Show or any big trade show is to jot down some clear goals for the rest of the year and for next year. In the case of the NRA Show, you – and your competitors – have seven months left in 2013 to improve your marketing. What clearly defined tactics did you learn from NRA that your brand can improve? You can be prepared to make your move as one of the leading brands at NRA 2014. With a little honest and strategic action, everyone will be taking notice of what you’re doing at the next trade show.