3 Steps to Reaching Attendees at the National Restaurant Association Show

Those of us in the food industry know that a massive trade show is just around the corner, the National Restaurant Association Show. The annual event in Chicago draws thousands of attendees and exhibitors, showcasing everything in the restaurant industry from plates to pâté.

Screen Shot 2019-04-22 at 2.52.41 PM.png

If there's one opportunity I believe an overwhelming majority of exhibitors are missing out on is reaching attendees via social media. 

Here are my 3 recommendations to drive booth attendees via social media: 

1) Determine your why.

Why should attendees seek out YOUR booth? You need a booth activation plan - it could be product demos, customer consultations, games or drawings. Don't just wait for attendees to walk up, give them a reason to engage with you. THIS should be the foundation of your social media content. 

2) Build pre-event awareness.

Connect with attendees on social media now. A study from Buffer indicated that there are as many posts leading up to an event as during the event itself. If you wait until the day before the show, you're missing opportunities to build awareness. 

3) Create content on-site.

Much of your social content can be created ahead of time, but you need to be create engaging and relevant content based on what's happening at the show. Consider videos of your team setting up the booth. Or post quotes from speakers. Ask questions. Take polls. Go live.

With just a bit of thought ahead of time you can use social media to reach attendees, build awareness and drive additional booth traffic.

WANT MORE IDEAS? I created a FREE guide with some additional recommendations to building your event social media strategy. Just go here to grab the guide. 

5 Simple Social Media Tips to Drive Booth Traffic at the National Restaurant Association Show


The National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago kicks off on May 19, 2018. If you implement an effective social media strategy, you'll not only stand out and build brand awareness, you'll also drive booth traffic. Everyone wants booth traffic - it's critical to capture those leads!

Here are 5 tips for an effective social media strategy at the NRA show:

Tip 1: Use the correct hashtags. The official hashtag is #FiredUp but people are already posting with different hashtags and you’ll want to use multiple hashtags to get the most visibility. Here are a few to use:

#NationalRestaurantShow #NRAshow18 #NRAshow2018 #RestaurantShow #FiredUp #NationalRestaurantAssociation  

Definitely use hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. They really aren’t effective on Facebook or LinkedIn so I wouldn’t worry about those. 

Tip 2: Post a video! The current algorithms for social media put a high value on video - and it just gets more attention from users who are scrolling through their social media feeds. Attention (the good kind) is what you want from your social media strategy. 


You can use your phone, virtually ever smart phone has high enough quality to record a video - no fancy equipment or complex editing software needed - it’s simple - just keep it short, get your point across and be yourself! 

What should your video be about? you could demo your new product or introduce your team. Give people a reason to watch!

Tip 3: Go LIVE. Take your video a step further and try going live. You’re more likely to get additional views and attention. In fact, the Facebook algorithm promotes video and live video. So give it a try!

What could you go live with? How about setting up your booth at the show. Or maybe demo your product. Or go live at the convention center at your booth. The options are endless.

Tip 4: Interact with fellow exhibitors and attendees. Don’t simply post content, respond to everyone that leaves a comment. Don’t let any comments go unanswered. 

Not only should you respond to comments on YOUR posts, go and interact with other posts - respond, like and retweet other content that you think is valuable. Build connections with your fellow exhibitors AND attendees!

Tip 5: be YOU, not the SALES YOU. It’s important to just be yourself - customers buy from people they know, like and trust. No one wants a hard sales pitch - it’s not interesting to watch and it’s boring. Just be you! 

There you go - all 5 tips for social media success at the National Restaurant Association. I hope these have been helpful! I’ll be at the show Sunday, Monday and Tuesday - I’d love to connect with you then. 

If you’d like to chat about food marketing, the food industry or how to help your brand really connect with your customers, I’d love to chat. Send me a note - we’ll see you soon!

How To Reach Buyers After Expo: 3 Critical Tips

Now that Expo is over, you may be asking “what’s next?” Here’s my one piece of advice - keep the momentum going!

You’ve connected with hundreds of people - social media influencers, industry experts, service providers, distributors, suppliers, buyers and fellow entrepreneurs. It’s important to build upon the connections you’ve made at the event.

One of the most critical connections you can make at Expo East is with a buyer, and nurturing this relationship is key.


Alli Ball is a former buyer for Bi-Rite and now consults with food producers and manufacturers, guiding them with business planning, product development and wholesale launch. According to Alli, “Your follow-up to the show can make or break that new relationship that you formed on the sales floor.”

She has three tips that Expo East exhibitors need to remember following the show.

1) Don’t forget to follow up. While this seems obvious, as a buyer, she’s seen this step skipped time and again. “When I was a buyer, I had many instances where I met a producer on the trade show floor only to get back to San Francisco and realize that I didn’t have their contact information and couldn’t quite remember their brand,” Alli said. Takeaway: Buyers are busy - it’s unlikely that they will follow up with you, so you must make the first move after the show.

2) Send them a concise, personalized email that includes all of the information that they need to know to make a decision on your brand. Do not mass email - make each one personalized. According to Alli, “as a buyer, I’m much more likely to delete a generic group email than one that is addressed to me and speaks specifically on how your product can help my store.” Don’t forget to include your sell sheet and your pricing on this follow up email.

3) Pick up the phone and call one week after the show (after you’ve sent that follow up email). Then email again. And call again… and again and again. “It takes, on average, seven points of contact with a buyer before they respond and take action on your brand. I always say - as a producer you need to apply constant, gentle pressure on that buyer!”  

It takes, on average, seven points of contact with a buyer before they respond and take action on your brand.
— Alli Ball

Need help taking the next step? Alli has a wealth of information on how to reach buyers and make your product stand out. If you have questions on how to pitch to those buyers so they say “yes!”, what to include on your sell sheet, or how to continue that retail relationship, reach out to Alli here


The Simple Art of Delighting Your Customers

pexels-photo-95425 copy.jpg

Let’s face it – it’s a noisy world out there. Your customers are bombarded with choices left and right. In the supermarket alone there are an estimated 39,500 items on the shelf. Customers are marketed to day in and day out. As a brand, you have competitors right and left. Bottom line, in the marketplace, there are ALWAYS alternatives to your product.

Gaining the attention of consumers is the ultimate challenge for marketers.

But simple attention isn't enough. Keeping that attention long enough to build a personal connection is key. I’m convinced that if you surprise and delight your customers with positive brand experiences that are unique, memorable and valued in the mind of your customer, they'll reward your business with loyalty.

How can you do this? 

Give a something extra. 

It doesn’t take a lot of extra effort to connect with your community. One of these ways is by small moments that surprise and delight.

There are lots of ways to do this – here are some some simple ideas:

  • Provide a samples
  • Offering to hand-carry their purchase to the car
  • Educate customers about your product and story
  • Learn the name of regular customers
  • Make a home delivery of the purchase
  • Respond to your customers promptly on social media
  • Including a small, free surprise item in the shipment

Think of your organization and ask yourself “what would make make my community’s brand experience unique and memorable? What do I want this person to feel after they interact with me? What are my competitors not doing that I can do?"

Start to identify ways you can use small surprises to make a deeper conection. Try to make it personal and unique. 

We are emotional creatures. Experiences that connect on an emotional level create bonds. Small, personal touches that surprise AND delight your customers will result in loyal customers and raving fans. 

What do you think?
What personalized examples have you experienced with a company or organization? What little touches do you remember? What is YOUR brand doing to surprise and delight your customers?