My ASD Trade Show Update and a New Formula Revealed.
I recently attended the ASD Trade Show in Las Vegas, NV; it’s one of the largest trade shows in the country. Now that I’ve been to one of these monster-sized events, I’ve created the DPAN formula to help us supercharge our trade show buying experience.
Before diving into the new formula, let me shed some light on why I think attending trade shows is so important and a bit about my experience at this recent ASD trade show.
Trade shows are about more than buying product
Whether you are just beginning or are seasoned—whether you already have a niche/product in mind or are completely clueless, attending trade shows can help you be a better business person. Here’s why.
- Going with an open mind can reveal opportunities and connections you never knew existed.
- You have a chance to test your communication and analytical skills in rapid succession. Real time, baby!
With that in mind, here are some highlights from my recent experience.
Highlights from my first trade show experience
This was my first trade show as a private label entrepreneur and man was it a doozie! Kind of like starting a new exercise program and spending an hour in the gym and then running five miles all in the same day. It can be painful!
I prepared before I went and while I’m glad I did, there are some things you just can’t anticipate. Let me explain.
- The Las Vegas Convention Center is huge. There are several large buildings some multi-level. This trade show consumes every last square inch of space. There is so much to see that it’s overwhelming. And, despite how well organized the event people are, there is no way you can easily find vendors selling specific products using ASD’s online tools.
- I’m an introvert, but I’m not shy. There’s a difference. If you are very shy it will be hard to work a trade show and gain the information and connections you’ll need to be successful at private labeling.
- In-person connections with fellow entrepreneurs alone are worth the trip . Diana of SecondHalfDreams.com attended the show, too. We had emailed back and forth but not met in person. We met for breakfast the first day of the trade show and continued to connect and share information throughout the event. That was one of the highlights for me. (You can read Diana’s ASD update post here.) I met many other online entrepreneurs spontaneously at the show that otherwise I would not have had the chance to meet.
- The free workshops are actually worth your time. If it weren’t for Diana I may have missed taking advantage of them. Besides meeting other online sellers, I learned some excellent tips, like gather all the brochures and price sheets you can from Robyn Johnson’s presentation, “Show Me the Money: Finding and Analyzing Wholesale Sources for eCommerce.”
- Jim Cockrum was an amazing speaker, too. I hadn’t heard of him before but went with Diana to his keynote presentation. He has a ton of experience as an Amazon seller, making money online and teaching others to do the same. I was so impressed with him and will consider taking one of his courses. I was lucky enough to get a free copy of his book Silent Sales Machine for arriving early (see, the early bird does get the worm!).
- The days are long and the nights are longer. Whoa, don’t get too excited. I didn’t hit the strip after leaving the show. Nope, I went back to my hotel and ran the products I found through my evaluation process. It was a great way to further test the methods I’ve described here and here. The net result is that I eliminated all but three products from my countless hours walking the trade show floors!
Because attending trade shows can feel daunting, I came up with the DPAN formula to help put a framework around the experience. Here’s more about the formula.
Use the DPAN formula to supercharge your trade show buying experience
DPAN stands for:
- Analyze, and
When it comes to getting the most out of your trade show buying experience, embracing each part of the formula will help you succeed.
This isn’t a linear process, rather it’s a mindset.
This part of the formula has to do with being open minded. Being willing to walk areas of a trade show that you normally wouldn’t step foot into. You could find an opportunity for a new brand or a new line in your existing brand. You might meet someone who will be pivotal in the next major leap your business takes.
The only order I put in while at the show ended up being in a section of the trade show that I would never have thought I’d find something. I liked the product so much I bought some for PrivateLabelPreneur. You’ll see a shop on the menu bar in the next few weeks. I’ll keep the product a surprise for now 🙂
Even small discoveries can be worthwhile. For example, I have no interest in selling beauty products, but if I hadn’t done a spin through that section, I wouldn’t have found the Simp-Q Portable Photo Studio I bought!
I’ve struggled with how to get low-cost professional-looking images. I purchased an inferior photo studio a year ago and returned it to Amazon. It was difficult to set up and the pictures I took were worse that taking them outside. Here is a before and after shot using the new studio. Can you tell which one came from my new purchase?!?
So as you can see, being open to discovery is a good frame-of-mind and an essential part of the DPAN formula.
On the surface this may seem strange. How can practice fit into the formula? Easy. Trade shows are an excellent place to practice:
- Overcoming shyness
- Speaking confidently about who you are and what you do
- Analyzing products while at the show to see if there’s even a chance one might be worth pursuing
- Meeting strangers
I’m sure there’s more, but you get the idea!
You could wait until you get back home to do your analysis. But if you do, you could miss out on something or worse yet, make a purchase that could turn out to be unprofitable. That could happen anyway, but the chances are less likely if you do the detailed research.
Besides that, when you get home you will stick your pile of brochures and price sheets in a drawer or on the credenza and let them become part of the landscape.
Force yourself to do this work while at the show. Here’s why:
- If you have further questions, you can go back to that vendor and ask more questions.
- If you determine that a product is one you want to pursue, you can schedule time with the vendor to place the order at the show. This will guarantee you can take advantage of whatever show special they are offering.
- It will help you practice the craft of product selection.
I wrote two very detailed posts (including free worksheets) that cover how I analyze products. I used this same process and the worksheets at this trade show to cull out the best for consideration. The process works great and I encourage you to give it a try. Here are links to the posts:
- My Easy 3-Step Private Label Products Evaluation Test (Steps 1 & 2)
- Product Profitability — Evaluation Test: Step 3
Everyone knows that networking is a cornerstone to success whether you work for a company or are out there paving your own way. Trade shows provide and excellent platform for networking.
Make sure you check the trade show site for opportunities to network. These can be in the form of seminars, speaker events, round tables, etc.
Also, make sure your community knows you’ll be there. Ask the bloggers you follow if they’re going. Do they have a Meetup planned? Ask how you can attend.
Make the most of your experience and meet as many people as you can. You never know the potential value of that relationship down the road.
So that’s the DPAN formula in a nutshell. Do you think I’m a nutcase or am I making sense? Let me know what you think either way!
Where you can find trade shows to attend
Here’s a link to a list of the Top 100 USA Shows. You’ll find trade shows for industries in every category, from kids to hunting and outdoors all the way to glass and plumbing fixtures.
In fact, I just got on the pre-registration notification list for the PLMA’s 2016 Private Label Trade Show coming up in Chicago November 2016. Brrrrr! I don’t know whether I’ll be able to attend, but I wanted to get on the list so I don’t miss out if my schedule permits.
Maybe I’ll see you there!
Call to Action
So what do you think about this trade show stuff? Have I convinced you that it’s more valuable than simply shopping for inventory? I sure hope so! I’d love to know if you’re planning to attend a trade show this year, shoot me an email at Ree@PrivateLabelPreneur.com or leave a comment below.
Now back to work for me!
Want to follow along on my journey?
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