I spent the weekend of May 4-6th at a hardware trade show in Las Vegas. It was one of the better tradeshows I’ve attended, definitely. In addition to the trade section, there were also different speakers and manufacturers present. The special section for inventor’s to present their inventions was called the “Inventor’s Spotlight.” The event really worked. I’ve attended some conferences for inventors where they are really the only ones present; there are some educational events, but few manufacturers to present to or connect with. (If you do attend an inventor’s tradeshow or conference that is a little slow, use the opportunity to network with other peers and make contacts in the industry.) This event combined both. Manufacturers stopped by the spotlight section the entire weekend and interacted with inventors. I’m not sure if it was out of curiosity or what, but it was working.
A lot of the inventors that attended did things I was impressed by. But I also wished I could have given a few of them some advice before. I’ve compiled a list below of the tips I wish I’d known before presenting at a tradeshow. Enjoy!
1. Get out of your booth. Attend all the educational events that you can, and make sure to network with other people. Check out other booths. If you’re the only one working your booth (and can’t leave during the day), walk around the aisles early in the morning one day. But make sure to take note of what booths you really want to prioritize the night before!
2. Have a great sign. It was obvious that many inventors had hired a graphic artist or designer to create their billboard, and it paid off. They were large, colorful, and informative, often introducing the product right on the ad. You saw the ad and you understood the product immediately. It was powerful.
3. Be succinct. When I walked up to a new inventor, I always began our conversation by asking him or her “What do you have?” Sometimes they went on and on and on! You’ve got to recognize that most people at tradeshows don’t have a lot of time. They’re busy. If you want to grab their attention, you need to make it brief. Condense the description of the benefits of your idea into one sentence.
4. Bring two pairs of shoes! The floors are hard and your feet will hurt.
Stephen Key is a successful award-winning inventor who has licensed
over 20 products in the past 30 years. Along with business partner
Andrew Krauss, Stephen runs inventRight,
a company dedicated to educating inventors about selling their ideas
and the skills needed to succeed. You can listen to the weekly radio
show on inventing. Get In The News, list your invention to have media
outlets find you for news stories.