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How to make a splash at September trade shows

Split Nutrition's Sales Director shares tips on building buzz for new products and standing out on the trade show floor.

Fall trade shows are an important time for the retail business. It’s when brands can meet buyers and brokers, showcase new products, and get inspired by innovations from their peers. This year remains a bit unpredictable as the pandemic lingers on, with the Fancy Food Show held virtually and Expo East hosting both in-person and virtual options. While the year may not have been everything we wanted it to be, brands are nonetheless preparing to make the most of the month’s events to showcase their best and newest products. We caught up with Bruce Weyman, Split Nutrition’s Sales Director and food industry veteran, to hear how he’s leveraging the events to launch Split’s newest flavors and stand out on the trade show floor.

Building buzz for new products

In addition to connecting face-to-face with buyers, the fall event season is a unique opportunity to launch new products in front of a wide audience. That’s why Split Nutrition, famous for snack packs of pure nut butter and no-additive jellies that make for a wholesome on-the-go PB&J, has launched two new SKUs ahead of Expo East. Split packs of dark chocolate and peanut/almond butters will be debuting at the shows, along with new 5-packs of the brand’s existing lineup.

Expo East’s event program also aims to highlight product innovation. For the first time this year, they announced the winners of their NEXTY awards prior to the show to help brands get maximum exposure. The event organizers recommend submitting for the awards to take advantage of the promotion finalists and winners receive before and during the show. 

To make Split’s launch a success, Bruce is counting on in-person time at Expo East since most other shows have gone virtual. “Attracting new business and meeting with existing customers at Expo East is of greatest importance,” he notes. That said, it’s hard to know what to expect this year and whether the shows will have their usual hustle and bustle. But Bruce plans to seek out potential business partners, use the opportunity to meet with his broker community, and formally introduce the new SKUs to buyers.

"In person trade shows are the perfect opportunity to share our brand's personality." -- Bruce Weyman, VP of Sales, Split Nutrition

Making the most on the show floor

Demo-ing products is central to trade show promotion, and particularly important to Bruce as it connects closely with Split Nutrition’s ethos. “In person trade shows are the perfect opportunity to share our brand's personality. We are a fun, somewhat nostalgic, better for you, on-the-go snacking option, and having people traveling to the shows in person is a great occasion to try Split,” he explains.

Of course, there will be plenty of brands eager to showcase their latest products. Expo East notes that some of the biggest trends to expect this year include clean-ingredient and plant-based dairy options, center-store basics with all kinds of creative twists and flavors, and beverages with new functional ingredients and botanicals. 

To stand out from the crowd, Bruce tries to keep things interesting on the floor -- and that includes stepping away from the booth. “We typically don’t just stand behind our booth. I like being close to the aisle and handing out products and starting conversations. I've even been known to ask some trivia on the spot and give away full boxes to those with the correct answers. Any chance to engage in a playful way initially helps us stand out.”

Ultimately, he finds that staying true to the brand is the best strategy. Once someone hears they are selling PB&Js, Bruce says the most common reaction if someone doesn’t stop is to laugh, turn around, and come back. “There's no grand solution we have in place other than trying to stay true to who and what we are,” he says. “I think that authenticity resonates with attendees.”

"We typically don’t just stand behind our booth...any chance to engage in a playful way initially helps us stand out." -- Bruce Weyman, VP of Sales, Split Nutrition

To check out Split’s newly launched flavors visit splitnutrition.com, where Crisp readers can use code TRY15 for 15% off their first order.

For more fresh industry insights, subscribe to the Crisp blog. To learn how Crisp can help you be data-ready for your next trade show, contact us today for a demo.

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