How to Prepare for a Packaging Trade Show
Visiting a packaging trade show can be fun and productive, or it can be a boring waste of time. Without a game plan, the show will be overwhelming. You will be overloaded with information and not know how to begin processing it. You will not know where to focus your attention, which will result in the show being a wasted experience for you. You cannot wander around a show for two or three days, just expecting something magical to happen; this is just not how it works. However, if you have a defined purpose for your visit and organize yourself ahead of time, you can leave the show with targeted knowledge and concrete steps to move your company forward. People who go to the show with objectives already in mind are likely to achieve them.
Why visit a packaging trade show:
1) Discover the latest and greatest in packaging.* If you would like to educate yourself on the latest in the world of packaging, packaging trade shows are the place to go. You can learn about cutting-edge technological capabilities in equipment and packages to ensure that your business remains up-to-date and stays ahead of the curve.
2) Add a new product to your production line or increase production capabilities. You can discover the new equipment that will meet your current production capabilities, or those that you hope will help you achieve a future goal.
3) New product research. You can examine new bag and packaging styles for your products and determine which equipment and materials will be needed to construct them.
4) Find new vendors/suppliers for your materials. There will be many suppliers at the packaging trade show for you to visit in order to see if their offerings better meet your business’s needs.
In November, the largest trade show for the packaging sector in the Americas will take place in Chicago — Pack Expo International, together with Pharma Expo. This four-day show is highly recommended for someone looking for equipment or anything related to product packaging. Four days may seem like plenty of time, but without a game plan, it’s not enough time for you to achieve your goals.
Defining your purpose:
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for you to know exactly what you are looking for before you attend a packaging trade show. If you are looking for equipment, what type of equipment? There will be several equipment suppliers for each type. In the case of Pack Expo, four days is not nearly long enough for you to stop at every single equipment manufacturing booth. An even more complete game plan includes defining what a “good supplier” is to you. Is it one with the latest technology, certain equipment components, the best price, service, or location? If you decide price is key when it comes to identifying a good supplier, then you do not need to be visiting the most expensive booths. If you are looking for a vertical form-fill-seal machine at an affordable price, you need to reference the packaging trade show directory and find all of the manufacturers of affordable machines, and plan on visiting each one of them. The same goes for if you are looking for multi-head scales, cartoners, or blister pack machines; make a list in advance so you enter the show with a mission. In whatever time you have remaining after visiting the booths on your must-see list, you can revisit ones that you really like, or look at suppliers of other items.
Every time you visit a booth, especially when you are leaving, jot down some notes to help you remember what you thought about each booth. It will be especially helpful to make a spreadsheet with criteria that are important to you, as you can then rate each booth accordingly. It might seem like a lot to keep track of, but in the end, it will help you make the best decisions for your business.
If you have determined that you are going to be looking at auger fillers at the show, then only visit other suppliers once you are certain you have seen all auger fillers and have had all of your questions answered. This will ensure that you do not get distracted and can avoid using your time recklessly, which is not good for you or for the exhibitors.
*These tips can be applied for use at any type of trade show, not just packaging shows.