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June 27, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Inventors: How to Choose the Right Trade Shows to Generate Interest in Your Product Invention

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Now, you mentioned, like, you had the word “professional” before “trade show.” I noticed that, like, “Go to a professional trade show.” Can you talk about that distinction? And that may bring us into the next question. And that's the scams that are out there, targeting inventors and how to stay away from those. But tell us what you mean by a professional trade show. How does an inventor tell when a trade show is a professional trade show or not?

The easiest way to tell is that it's not open to the public. You have to have credentials to get in.

Like the National Hardware Show—you’ve got to be a store owner; you've got to be a manufacturer; you've got to be buying space. So inventors generally are going in as an exhibitor. It's tough to get an attendee badge to a professional show if you don't have any credentials. And it's the same thing with shows like SuperZoo, the ABC Kids Expo, Global Pet, you know, Medtrade for the home health care product. The shows are closed to consumers just going in. This is not a place where people go to buy things, they're not going to be buying products. In fact, a lot of the shows really frown on a cash and carry policy. The attendees are going to be your store owners; they're going to be the buyers for your Home Depot, True Value, and the big box stores, sometimes for the little stores. But that's the way to tell, all right?

And then you have to make sure that you've either got the right credentials—you cannot go in as an attendee, and start trying to sell your product because you didn't pay the price to be there. And they will escort you out and blacklist you. So that doesn't mean that you shouldn't go or couldn't go as an attendee, it just means you need to be really, really careful in the way you approach someone because another exhibitor is going to be angry, if you try to sell your product to them, when they paid to be there, and you didn't. That's one of the things. So you can, you know, sometimes the shows will allow an attendee to pay $250 for a bench. So again, it's not like those that are open locally. And that's one of the other ways to tell if it's a craft fair; that's not where you want to be. If it's the local Christmas show, that's not where you want to be. Unless you've got inventory, and selling ones and twos and maybe breaking even is where you want to go. You want to be able to go where the buyers are. So one of the ways is to look at the other attendees. Are they, you know, stores and production, and that type of thing? And then the attendees, you can call and ask who are the attendees? Well, it's limited to the buyers. Okay, so shows to be careful of: anything and everything that says they’re dedicated to inventors. Run, run, run. It's a feeding frenzy and the majority of the companies that are trying to sell you services. It doesn't matter how expensive the suit is, the shark will still eat you. And so when I say it's a feeding frenzy, keep that in mind. Now, there's going to be other people out there that are going to say shame on me because I said that, but that is the truth. If it's, you know, a licensing show, or an inventor show or anything like that, it's not worth the money. It doesn't mean you couldn't learn anything if you've got unlimited funds, but you know what? An inventor doesn't come to me and say, “Oh, I've got a million dollars to waste on this. Can you help me?” They're very frugal. They have to be, because we've got to get to the, you know, we’ve got to get to the goal line, to be able to do this. So I always advise them, “Be frugal with your money.” And that means pick the shows carefully.

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