2 Show Types, 1 Goal
Whether You Attend a Trade Show or Industry Pitch Event, the Top Priority is the Same: Relationships by April Mitchell
INDUSTRY SHOWS are all alike, correct? Wrong!
Industry pitch events are often referred to as trade shows, but there can be a big difference between the two. It is important for inventors to know these differences to better understand the priorities of manufacturers—which can help you form strategies for the show.
In most industry trade shows, inventors and manufacturers set up booths, showcasing their existing and newest products about to be released or just released.
Manufacturers’ primary reason or goal for these shows is to meet with buyers and show them their new product(s) in hopes of getting orders/sales. Industry pitch events are set up for inventors/designers to meet with manufacturers and pitch
Trade shows: Why go?
Attending trade shows such as the most recent one I attended—Toy Fair Dallas 2022—is important to me for several reasons. They provide me the opportunity to build relationships, conduct research, gain insight, and present new concepts to manufacturers. One similarity between trade shows and industry pitch events is the paramount importance of building relationships.
That is my No. 1 goal for attending these shows. Whether meeting someone for the first time, meeting someone in person I have emailed and had Zoom calls with, or catching up with
industry members I have known for several years, it is good to foster these relationships. There are always more people and companies to meet. You never know what could come from the start of a relationship: a mentorship, a friendship, a future partnership. Every show, I come away with one or two of these in each category.
Similarly, manufacturers know their buyers and count on seeing them, as well as hoping to meet buyers from retailers. It is also important for me to know what is going on in the industry for which I am inventing. As an active inventor, I want and need to know new trends, as well as which new products are coming out. This is my research aspect. Inventors can learn a lot by simply walking the trade show floor and viewing different booths. Don’t be afraid to talk to people in a booth if they are not busy with a buyer. One can learn a lot from a sales team.
Being at a show also provides the opportunity for you to present new concepts. I try to schedule meetings ahead of time whenever possible. If the opportunity arises, I will present my concepts right on the spot if the manufacturer has time to sit down with me. When I do not have an appointment but would like to speak to someone at the company, I go by when the representative is not meeting with buyers. Sometimes there is not time for a meeting, but the company is often happy to exchange business cards and set up a meeting in the weeks after the show. I did this after the Dallas show. I may have never met these companies if I did not attend!
Industry pitch events: Why go?
Pitching in front of companies is also great for relationship building but with a more specific purpose. There can be a great education for newer inventors, which helps further the industry. Events such as Mojo Pitch, organized by Mojo Nation, and the People of Play Innovation Summit, put on by People of Play, are designed to get new and professional inventors in front of companies and pitching their concepts.
At these events, inventors meet with numerous game and toy companies. Companies seek new concepts to license and get into the retail space, and these pitch events help with that goal. There are also social events within the event, which allows everyone in the industry—from inventor to president of inventor relations—to share a meal or mingle over drinks. When you are a new inventor, this is a superb way to get to know people in the industry. Attending these events helped me build relationships in the toy and game industry. I believe that attending these events can put a new inventor on a fast track in the industry, because you can get in front of dozens of manufacturers in such a short time.
It can take weeks, months, even years to find the right person in a company, or to have the opportunity to present to that person. Meeting in person takes you to a new level. Personally, I think the handshake, smile and a can-do attitude can go a long way.