Trade Show Marketing Checklist for Fancy Food Show 2018: How to Catapult Your Brand from the Exhibit Floor to Grocery Shelf

Amy Stern - 06/13/2018

Whether you represent an existing food brand that’s a household name or an emerging brand just entering the market, you’ll want to put the best trade show marketing ideas into practice if you’ve made the decision to exhibit at the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC (June 30-July 2, 2018). It’s a smart investment in generating new business and you want to maximize your return on investment. To help you hit a home run, we’ve provided a trade show checklist that will elevate brand awareness, lead to placement on the grocery store shelf and incentivize shoppers to put your product into their shopping carts. Here you go…

Trade Show Email Marketing Campaign

A few weeks before the show, consider an email campaign to current and potential customers. Think of it as a teaser with content that shares just enough news to pique interest and drive foot traffic to your booth. If you’re launching new product/s or featuring a line extension, this is your opportunity to announce it, but what if you don’t have any new products, how can you still attract brand interest? There are plenty of other newsworthy angles:

  • Have you recently added any new executives to your team? If so, tout their pervious experience and convey how they will add value to your team. Just the fact that you’re sending an email will keep your brand top of mind.
  • If you’ve added any new features to your website or improved your e-commerce capabilities, that’s worthy of an announcement, too
  • Consumer contests
  • Special Events

Alert the Media of Trade Show Marketing Activity

The same content you include in a customer email can be repurposed in a press release. Posting your news via the Fancy Food online press portal is one way to garner media attention. Another is to partner with a seasoned PR agency that has experience representing food and culinary brands. The right agency will have turnkey press relationships and the know-how to garner placements in show “round-up” stories that appear in advance, as well as post-show, in key trade publications. They will also be able to leverage that news with relevant consumer outlets that cover food, beverage, lifestyle, travel and business beats.

A strategic agency partner should also be adept at driving onsite press to your booth for pre-arranged interviews. With hundreds of companies in the exhibit hall, it’s going to take experience, expertise and existing relationships to convert media interest into actual press coverage and for smaller, emerging brands, it’s even more challenging. The right agency partner can make all the difference with connections to secure pre-registered media lists, capabilities to draft standard press documents, like press releases and media alerts, and the ability to dial up personal contacts to be sure you’re dialed in.

Trade Show Competitor Reconnaissance

Another opportunity that trade shows offer, but are often overlooked, is competitor reconnaissance. Just think about it, during the Fancy Food Show, most of your competitors will be at a single location for several consecutive days. Make sure you take some time away from your own booth or be sure you bring along a colleague who can. Walk the show floor! In as little as thirty minutes, you’ll acquire a wealth of information regarding the competition. Valuable insights regarding competitor reconnaissance can be collected on:

  • New flavors
  • New ingredients
  • Innovations in packaging
  • Emerging industry trends and more

The Fancy Food Show also offers plenty of opportunity for building significant relationships, building on existing ones while also forging new ones. The show brings together not only food brands, both those that service the industry. From marketers and retailers, to co-packers and designers, this is a networking opportunity served up to you on a silver platter! The more you learn about what the competition is doing, the better you can leverage that intel to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.

Best Trade Show Post-event Marketing Ideas

Many companies think that the value of Fancy Food ends when they exit the Javits Convention Center, but there are a variety of promotional tactics that you should be engaging in post-show.

Sample Sends

If you are lamenting that certain retailers or distributors didn’t make it to your booth, post-show is a great time to activate a direct mail program that encompasses sample product sends. Use the recent show as an easy entrée to strike up conversation (via email or snail mail), offering to send product samples for trial.

Recently, I participated in a discussion with the producers of ABC’s cooking show, The Chew, where the value of sample sends was reinforced. Several of the producers expressed sincere interest in receiving samples of new and innovative food products that might be of interest to their viewers. Your agency partner can assist with such outreach targeting key media post show, ensuring they receive valuable product samples, as well as key press materials and even sending a video introduction that can easily be loaded onto a flash drive. All of these efforts keep your brand top-of-mind and if the tasting experience is well-received, can reinforce the potential not only for publicity and product awareness, but ultimately purchase, as well.


Creating fact sheets and press releases are best left to the experts. There is a specific format that the press expects and if you are truly going to increase brand awareness and relevance with the media, this is one area where you should call in the pro’s. There is also certain protocol when it comes to how to approach the press, so let your agency do what agencies do best and that is manage and secure media placement.

Staying Top of Mind Year-round

While it’s important to leverage the value of exhibiting at the Fancy Food Show, let’s not forget that even once you’ve successfully secured orders from retailers and distributers, your job of self-promotion is far from over. Look at any product category in the food industry, from condiments and sauces to confections and gourmet cheese, the competition at shelf is fierce. If you are not an established household name, how will you incentivize consumers to chose you?

A strong media relations program activated year-round will keep your brand top-of-mind with a steady stream of news to the right audiences and because it’s third party content, media relations offers a credible reason-to-believe. A solid media relations strategy will include a focus on trade and consumer press across print, digital and broadcast media. The ingenuity to craft timely and newsworthy press angles that go beyond product launches and corporate announcements to convert brand-centric content into mainstream news stories is the differentiator that can take your brand from exhibit floor to grocery shelf.

Get ideas about what the press is interested in, watch our food marketing capabilities sizzle reel.


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