The ABC show only comes once a year (or twice if you include the smaller Spring show). How can you make the most of it when all you have is a few days to make an impact? Well, I can’t say much about what buyers want to see, but after walking the floor for six years, I can give you my two cents on what you might be doing wrong and how easy it is correct.
Leave it in your hotel room or swap it with the booth next to you, but avoid the temptation to look at your phone every few minutes. If you have to, take a quick walk every 15 minutes to check your messages, but while in the booth, focus on scanning the crowd and smiling at passers-by. It’s a basic rule of interpersonal relationships: if you look bored, I’ll assume you aren’t very excited about your product.
When you as the booth owner are scanning the crowd for a more important face while talking to me, it’s super-obvious. It’s like a cocktail party. If you don’t care for me, then move on, but don’t stay with me half-engaged, or you’ve mostly ruined any relationship we were going to have anyway.
Quite often, especially with younger PR people I hear a pitch that almost sounds pre-recorded, as if the account person is getting paid by how many words she gets said correctly. As press, we’re used to getting pitched and we tune out the talking points. Sure, we need to know these things, especially if your product really is better somehow, but figure out to say it without the boilerplate. I’m sure buyers feel the same way.
The same way you should throw away your pitch, you should spend time trying to figure out what will motivate an editor to write about you. What is he or she looking for? Could you provide her with information that would make a story? Could you even write a story for her that would lighten her load? If you aren’t talking the whole time, you may hear some interesting opportunities. Remember that in our business, very few writers are sent out for the day to “get the story on XYZ product.” For the the most part, writers and editors are hunting for inspiration, or background, or something new to talk about.
I meet so many manufacturers who desperately want press, yet they enter into a conversation with an approach that makes them seem worried they might get snookered somehow. It’s up to you to set up meetings with companies and people that might have an interest in your product. But if you balk when they ask for samples, you’ve already sent the wrong signal. Skip the meetings with media that are too small to make a difference and focus on real relationships with people and media you think you can connect with.
Believe me, I know these are all harder to do than they are to write. I was at a show a few weeks ago, and I could feel my phone in my pocket pulling on me to take a look. The only thing that helped me resist was knowing I had written this blog post.
UPDATE: Make sure to also check out our recent article: 7 More Pitch Tips for ABC and Beyond.
Remember, whether you’re talking to a buyer, a media rep, or another manufacturer, we’re all marketing to pregnant moms. That means we all have similar challenges. Share common challenges with each other and you’ve already got a more meaningful start to your conversations. If you’re looking for a topic, you might read this recent blog post on a recent study of new attitudes to motherhood that can help in marketing to moms.
We’ll see you at ABC!