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How to Take Advantage of Tradeshows: An Inventor’s Guide image

How to Take Advantage of Tradeshows: An Inventor’s Guide

Brian Fried
Inventor, Invention Consultant, Product Licensing Representation

Tradeshows like the upcoming Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) in London in September or Licensing Expo in Las Vegas in May can serve as a launching pad for inventors, but in order to truly take off you need the right fuel.

These events could be the right fit for an inventor planning to manufacture their own product or build a brand, as partnering with an IP can give your inventions a competitive edge. For example, a product that features a new way to open a bottle cap could partner with Budweiser to capture more consumer interest, benefitting from the loyalty of that brand’s fans. This agreement would make the inventor a licensee—every time one of your branded bottle openers sells, you would pay the licensor a royalty.

The experience of attending a big tradeshow—the energy of being in an environment with like-minded individuals and companies all looking to network and expand their exposure—is priceless. And, if you’re new to the global licensing industry, there are expert panels sharing insights into recent activities and upcoming trends. It’s also important to remember that attending a tradeshow can be good exposure for you and your brand, as it allows you to have a presence within the community.

Things just happen when you are on the floor and open to opportunity. Below are some top tips to help you take full advantage of these events.

Stick to a Schedule: Tradeshows like BLE and Licensing Expo offer opportunities to schedule meetings with potential partners. But you can’t simply walk into a booth and speak with a member of the team, you need to reach out to request those meetings weeks in advance. Using the event’s directory of exhibitors, you can find contact information for each company. By searching their website or LinkedIn pages, you can also find specific people within a company’s licensing team to request a meeting with to discuss what requirements are needed to obtain the rights to their property.

Early Bird Gets the Worm: Reach out to those contacts through email or through the event’s messaging platform to request a meeting. Ask for a few minutes of their time to introduce yourself and your product. Keep these emails short and to the point. Schedules fill up fast, so reach out with plenty of time ahead of the event.

Just Your (Proto) Type: During those meetings, it’s crucial that you let these executives get to know you and your product—these tradeshows are all about creating awareness and building relationships. If you have samples or prototypes, try to leave something behind with them along with your business card (yes, they are still being used). If you don’t have a prototype, prepare photos or videos. Ultimately, your pitch should demonstrate why your invention is special and how a partnership will make both of you money.

Stay In Touch: In the days or weeks after your meetings, follow up with these potential new partners using any email or phone contacts you receive. You can also re-connect on professional platforms like LinkedIn to keep in touch should a company have an opening within a category or loosen up its requirements.

Your product or IP is very important, but most important is how you present yourself. Dress sharp, know your offering inside and out, and smile. First-time conversations should be introductions—in time, you will build your reputation and these connections within the licensing community.

For more information, you can reach Brian Fried at brian@inventorsmart.com

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