Before I get to the exciting conclusion, let me lay out what an expo truly is so you have a better understanding of what was going through my head. First off, there are hundreds of food companies there, everyone of which gets a small booth inside of which they can do whatever they like, kind of like international waters or Detroit, but most people just set up a backdrop and hand out samples to whoever wants them. It is pretty much an opportunity for food companies (both large and small) to meet potential buyers and spread the word about their brands. The main theme I noticed is that many people were not using the best techniques to lure people into their booth. There were a few ground rules that Paul and I chose to follow and I firmly believe it was half of why we were so successful (the other half was my dazzling smile and natural charisma).
1. Be approachable. When is the last time you bought food from a guy breathing heavily and fiddling with his belly button? If the answer is anything besides “never” than you’re reading this from the trunk of that man’s car. It should really be a given in a show like this but you’d be surprised at people acting a bit off-putting or weird.
“Try the lotion from my basket!”
2. Don’t be pushy. If the person passing by doesn’t want to try your product, don’t get down on yourself or hurl insults at the back of his dumb bald head. I mean for all you know, maybe he’s not hungry, or a hummus farmer bullied him when he was younger. Who knows?
3. Know what you’re talking about. A few times some businessy men would walk up to the booth and ask me a very specific question for which I didn’t have the answer. There are two things I could do in that situation: make something up and most likely sound insane, or run and find Paul like a little kid with a freshly skinned knee running to his mother. But after a few times of this happening, I memorized what Paul said and could repeat it with nearly 95% accuracy.
“…and that’s why you should trust Simply 7 Snakes.”
Anyway, Paul and I got our booth set up and from then on I turned on a constant stream of salesmanship. The whole 3-day show blended together as we, with lots of help from our hired ”Freelance Promotional Specialist” (aka, model), handed out samples, exchanged business cards and made loads of sales. Our chips began to create a buzz around the show. People were saying things like, “the next big thing” and celebrity chef Cat Cora told us, “Your chips are awesome.” These positive reviews, along with the fact that our chips are the best selling snack at FRESH (what a silly coincidence that statistic would come out right after my salesman-handling of that store… just saying ), made them extremely easy items to sell. We handed out so many samples that every soul in that entire place knew the name of Simply 7, if they wanted to or not. We didn’t need novelties or fancy gimmicks to sell our products; we just needed people to try it. After that, it was smooth sailing.
After the show ended and people made their way out of the show room, I plopped down in the cracked plastic chair provided to our booth and let out a deep breath. It was over. I made it through my first expo with my sanity intact (which is more than we can say for Pat the Intern, but we don’t talk about him). Paul approached me and patted me on the back, “You done good kid. Ya kept your composure out there. Showed real moxy. Reeeaal chutzpah.”
“Why are you talking like that?” I wheezed out over exhausted breath.
“I don’t know. Something about Chicago does it to me… Baby doll.” He said, as we got up and headed back home.
Stay Hungry Everybody,
Will the Intern