Today kicks off a series of blog post I have planned about the upcoming Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) to be held next week in Las Vegas. I know that perhaps a large majority of this blog’s readers do not attend this annual trade show, however, my hope is that it gives both show attendees and non-attendees alike some greater insight into what happens at SHOT. In the outdoors world this show really is a BIG deal!
I just counted it out and since attending my very first SHOT Show held in Dallas back in 1989 I think I have only missed two shows since that time. That makes the 2014 show my 24th SHOT, I do believe. In any case, I have witnessed a bunch of changes and have had lots of experiences over the years. I’d like to use some of this past show knowledge to help both first-timers and savvy old veterans, alike.
Consider these pointers to achieve SHOT Show success next week:
- Arrive well-rested. I can’t emphasize this enough. No matter what physical condition you are in the SHOT Show will find a way to kick you in the butt. I guarantee you will discover muscles that have not been sore for years. This condition is only amplified if you arrive worn down. Besides, your body stands a better chance of fighting off illness when well-rested. Who wants to get sick at SHOT anyway?
- Bring your most comfortable shoes. I’ve written in the past how many miles of walking the SHOT Show represents on non-forgiving cement floors. Oh, sure, there is carpet in booths and most isles, but don’t kid yourself…several hours in and you will find your “dogs” barking for relief. Again, this situation is only made worse when your shoes are chosen for fashion and not primarily for comfort. If necessary, wearing tennis shoes with dress clothes is both permissible and somewhat expected.
- Drink plenty of water. Do this before the trip, during your stay in Vegas, and also when you return home. Why? While you might think food is the energy source for your body, in fact a healthy body can only perform with adequate water intake. Don’t forget…Vegas is a desert and the air will dry you out because of that fact.
- Travel with a plan. Write some goals down on paper you want to accomplish. Keep it simple and don’t try to accomplish too much. Refer to this written plan often. Maybe you have a goal of finding 20 new product suppliers for your store. Perhaps you have a list of rep names you have been wanting to finally meet in person. No matter what outcome you desire from SHOT, it works best to quantify it and write it down so the plan can be reviewed and you stay focused.
- Be sociable. I’m not necessarily talking about tweeting on Twitter.com or any of the other Social Media outlets…although it would benefit you to do so. Instead, I’m talking about being sociable the old fashioned way with your mouth. Talk to folks while in line at the concession stand. Engage booth exhibitors by asking questions or having them demonstrate product. Most people at SHOT are friendly and willing to converse, but it takes a bold person to start the exchange. Be that person who is bold enough to introduce yourself to a stranger.
- Get a show floor map and use it (or download the new Smart Phone app). I often tell new attendees how the most important 5 minutes they can spend is reviewing a map and learning the SHOT Show exhibitor layout. The National Shooting Sports Foundation(NSSF), who owns and administers SHOT, has put a great deal of effort into show management. Two decades ago booths lacked any logical order, but no more. Today, if you want to maximize your time spent in, let’s say the tactical area, that is entirely possible. Getting familiar with a map will make you more efficient with your precious show time.
- Prioritize your literature and show samples. Generally I take a wheeled carry on bag when traveling to SHOT. When I get to the hotel I empty the bag and this becomes my literature carrier all during the show. Then each day I fill the bag with catalogs, price lists, trinkets, samples, etc. and haul it all back to my hotel room each night. Once I get there and I’m relaxing, I then created two piles. One pile is the show materials I have an IMMEDIATE need for once I get home. That stays in the hotel room with me until I pack for my departure. The vast majority gets sorted and taken back to the show with me the next morning. Why, you ask? Simple. It gets placed in a handy, dandy shipping box (services near the escalator) and when I am done filling it on my final day…this box gets shipped by UPS/FedEx directly to my home/office door.
- Open your mind to new possibilities. Several years back I overheard a bunch of product buyers lamenting all this “Zombie Crap” on display, to use their words. Well, that “Zombie Crap” helps increase sales potential, but only for the folks who were forward thinking enough to realize this would become a new shooting craze among many. You go to SHOT to see new things. Indeed, some ideas or products will leave you shaking your head. Others, well, it might just be the next better mouse trap, so to speak. Don’t overlook potential (or profits) because you are stuck in your old ways of doing things.
- Take time to have some fun. This may seem silly, but I truly believe it is vital to having a positive show experience. Don’t spend all night in your room getting room service or even down on the gambling floor. Make plans! Make fun plans! Include others and get out and spend some time unwinding. Make dinner reservations or hit one of the upscale buffets famous in Las Vegas. Remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas so if you go and end up having some fun…nobody will tell on you!
- Once you get back home, follow up with your new contacts. I consider this one of the most important aspects of SHOT Show attendance. You have a stack of business cards gathered(new contacts). Drop them a quick e-mail and express how glad you were to have met them and your future business plans with them. Not only does this act show you as an elite professional (less than 5% will do this), but it will garner you additional respect from that contact that you valued their time spent chatting with you at the show. Folks, this is a must activity accomplished within five days upon getting home from SHOT.
I could go on, but I do consider these to be some of the big points you’ll want to consider. Does anyone else have suggestions about SHOT you would like to include? Comment below.
©2014 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.