2018 NAMA Show Strategies – Prepare And Prosper

Feb. 12, 2018

Are you attending the 2018 NAMA Show in Las Vegas?

This year’s show looks to be an important one as the convenience industry comes to grips with some significant challenges. The office consumer’s tastes are changing, new sources of competition are coming toward us fast, technology is a key factor and marketing plans need to be revisited yet again.

Anyone who is serious about the workplace refreshment industry needs to attend the 2018 NAMA Show.

Still, one of my operator clients recently told me that he felt his company was not getting enough out of conventions. Turns out, he had no plan for the NAMA Show, other than walking the floor, seeing old friends, taking his team to dinner and seeing a nice Vegas show with his wife. Lovely trip for sure, but not very good use of what the 2018 NAMA Show has to offer.

Here is the advice I gave to my client, a successful operator.

Assess your needs

Ask yourself and your team, “What is our greatest need right now?” In my experience, that answer changes with each convention. Some examples:

  • Better water filters
  • A quality single-cup solution
  • Improved marketing support from suppliers
  • Organic and healthy snacks
  • Higher end teas
  • Improved micro-market presentation

Make your own list. Determine a primary objective — the one critical take-away. Make it your mission to find that solution at the 2018 NAMA Show.

Bring key people

Even though there was a healthy tab to pay after the convention, we found that bringing a large group of key people to a NAMA Show was a very good choice that paid for itself many times over.

Bringing managers and key “up in comers” to the 2018 NAMA Show sends those employees an important message: “You are a valued member of our team who deserves this perk. We expect performance and we are confident that you will deliver at the Show and when we return to work.” Come to think of it, we articulated that message directly.Here is the key: Each of these employees needs a Show objective. It could be finance, service, operations or sales related. They should also be expected to submit a report on their objective, the solutions they discovered and the take-away from any educational sessions that they attended.

Read your program

Do not wait until you arrive to determine who the exhibitors are. Look at the NAMA Website and scout the convention floor layout and exhibitor list. This is critical as it will allow you to assign specific stops to your key people.

Pay special attention to new exhibitors, often the source of cutting edge products and services.

Evaluate the educational programs since they are announced well in advance. Help your key people make the right choices and determine which sessions should be attended by top management.

Set up meetings with suppliers

There is something about meeting with suppliers at a convention that sends a message — “My company is a serious player that deserves your attention.” I especially recommend this strategy to small, fast growing operators. Your company should get the same attention as the big guys on the block — or at least some attention now, because you intend to be one of the big guys soon!

Have an agenda for the meeting. What were some of the challenges you faced in 2017 in dealing with the supplier? How can “we work together” to overcome those challenges?

Of course — this is the question that can always be asked: What should we expect from your company in 2018 that will help us grow our business and improve our profitability? It is a two-way street, so always ask suppliers what their expectations are in terms of your company.

Keep in mind that the 2018 NAMA Show will bring in some national people representing suppliers — executives who can help support your local objectives. When the national sales manager is impressed by your company’s commitment to their products, it will go a long way toward receiving marketing support out of the local budget.

Use social media – Live from the NAMA Show

You know that business Facebook page of yours that rarely has any compelling content? Take this opportunity to post updates from the 2018 NAMA Show. Focus on quirky products, your own key employees and have your people report on topics that would be of interest to anyone, especially your clients. Tweet and post.

Best of all, when you find a solution, something that your client or prospect is desperately looking for, send that person a text or an e-mail letting them know you have found something especially for them. Send a photo. Here you are, in Vegas, on the convention floor, thinking about their needs. That is impressive customer care.

Utilize these strategies in order to make the most of the 2018 NAMA Show. Prepare and Prosper! See you in Las Vegas.