JAIME: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Jaime Schrabeck.
ASHLEY: And Ashley Gregory Hackett. With in-person beauty shows back on the schedule, we are eager to make the most of every moment.
JAIME: We’re reaching back into the Outgrowth archives to share our favorite things to do at a beauty show besides shopping. Let’s grow together.
ASHLEY: Well, you may notice that we sound a little bit different this episode and it’s because this is the very last thing we recorded before COVID-19 took hold of the beauty industry way back in March of 2020.
JAIME: Even though this was recorded almost 18 months ago, the concepts are still very relevant, especially now that beauty shows and the chance to be together in person are quite a luxury. Plus last week in our Premiere Orlando preview, we refer to this episode as essential listening for show preparation not realizing that it was never released.
ASHLEY: And that was a little bit of a booboo on our part, but we figured, might as well get this out there, even though it was recorded a long time ago and we sound very green. We sound hilarious. I didn’t think listening back to some of our first episodes that there would be a huge difference in how we sounded then and sound now. You can definitely tell now that we’re more comfortable. We speak faster. We’re more comfortable with our mics and just everything else that comes with podcasting.
JAIME: Makes you wonder what else might be hiding in the vault?
ASHLEY: I just worry for the listeners that start with episode one who are new to Outgrowth and are listening back to those kind of stilted and very stiff episodes. So we always recommend start with the most recent and work your way backwards. All right. Well, let’s let past Jaime and Ashley take it away.
ASHLEY: Well, welcome everybody to our top five things to do at trade shows that don’t involve shopping. I’m very excited to talk about this because trade show season is again upon us,which is exciting.
JAIME: It is exciting. This is one of the parts of our industry that brings us all together in a way that we wouldn’t normally. We’re spending our days working with clients in our individual salons and here’s a chance for us to connect as an entire industry.
ASHLEY: And it’s always great to reconnect with people we see show after show, but can sometimes just be ships in the night because of our busy schedules. I really enjoy show season and I’m pretty ready for it to start up again. We’re each going to share our top five things that we like to do at trade shows. And what do you think, Jaime, should we switch off? You share one, I share one?
JAIME: Why don’t you go ahead and start?
ASHLEY: Well, it might be kind of obvious, but I think one of the best things, and maybe my favorite thing to do at trade shows, is to network and reconnect with contacts. Sometimes it’s easier to be top of mind when you are right in front of the people you want to connect with. Trade shows are not just about getting good deals on the show floor. It’s about introducing yourself to people, connecting with new contacts, and putting yourself out there. It’s really uncomfortable. And it’s one of the things that I forced myself to do at my very first trade show here in Chicago. I felt very awkward. I had a ton of business cards in my pocket and I was that like weird creeper, just standing on the outside of the booth, waiting for somebody to become free, and walking up to them, shaking their hand, telling them my name, and telling them that I do nails, and I’m excited about their product or that I’m excited to meet them. It’s probably something that served me best when I was first starting out, and now I walk over to booths, and I still do the same thing, and I still feel just as awkward, but it reaps so many great rewards.
JAIME: No matter how big a show is, I’ll always make time to walk the entire show floor. So that means I have to make sure I’m wearing comfortable shoes because I’m going to be walking past booths big and small covering parts of the industry that I don’t even get involved in, but I need to see everything that’s out there. It’s amazing how many new things you can discover that you would never have seen had you not committed to walking the entire show floor. This takes some time and oftentimes the way that the show organizes the aisles of the show is not always that convenient. You’re walking down the aisle. You need to look left. You need to look right. At times, there are people trying to interact with you, other times, not at all. This can take very little time if you’re just breezing past. Other times, you might stop, and collect some materials, or actually engage in a conversation. But I always allow about four hours at a trade show to do this, and at times that might end up being the most important thing I do all weekend.
ASHLEY: And we’ve done this together. I, for one, feel sometimes like, oh, I’ve seen it all. I can skip this one. And you are so tenacious, and you do this every show, and it always yields some kind of positive result. And so you’re always very good at keeping me on task with walking the entire show floor. I know sometimes we think, I’m going to skip the small booths in the back, or I’ve already seen this already, or it’s the same thing as last year, but you’d be surprised even if it’s the same product or the same booth setup as last year, the people might be different. There might be a new product launching that they don’t even have out and they’re only showing it to people who connect with them. It’s really a great way to get a good lay of the land and figure out exactly what’s happening in the industry right now. And there’s no better way to put your finger on the pulse than to really walk the whole floor.
JAIME: I figure if the exhibitors have made the effort to attend the show, which we know is hugely expensive, then I owe it to them to at least walk past their booth and that it’s up to them to attract my attention.
ASHLEY: Well, and that actually kind of flows very well into my second thing I love to do. I love to trend spot at shows and some shows are better for this than others. You know, Cosmoprof North America, I think, is like the number one trend spotting show because it’s everything new and exciting in our industry, but it’s not something that everybody goes to. You can still trend spot, even if it’s your local show. And what I mean by trendspotting is I’m a blogger and I’m a social media coach, and so I pride myself in knowing what’s new and maybe breaking that news to my followers or to the rest of the industry, or just putting things in front of people that they may not have normally seen if they’re not at the show or they’re not out in these streets, walking up and down all these aisles. Trendspotting is a great way to kind of determine what’s next in our industry, meaning walking past the booths, engaging with the people working there, looking at what’s new, looking at what’s kind of coming down the pike and whether it’s a new product, a new technique, maybe a new educator for a brand, a new association that you can check into. There’s always something new to keep your eye out for. And I think those of us who are keeping our ear to the ground, paying attention, we’re going to be the first to be able to take advantage of these great new items, whether, again, it’s a product or it’s a source for something. Shows are a great way to really figure out what’s coming up, what you need to be paying attention to, maybe what you need to be learning. Because if there’s a new product launching at a show, my guess is there’s also a great class, a companion class to go along with that. So trendspotting is one of my favorite things to do. I love to try to theorize what’s going on behind the scenes and I think that’s really actually my favorite thing to do at a show.
JAIME: And if you were only going to shop and you were looking through the show program looking for the booth number for the brand whose product you want to buy, you’re going to miss the trends. You’re going to walk right to that booth, make your purchase, and walk away, and not really be able to take in the show more holistically.
And you’re right. You wouldn’t be able to see those trends if you weren’t open to things other than what you thought you were there for.
ASHLEY: Yeah, you gotta be open and you have to be open-minded. You’ve spent the money. You’ve spent the time. You might as well get the most out of it possible. What’s next for you, Jaime?
JAIME: Next on my list is introducing yourself to someone you admire. When the show announces which brands will be there, which educators and at times, which influencers will be making presentations, it’s meant to get us excited to attend the show. And here you’re going to be seeing those individuals in person. Here’s a chance for you to actually shake a hand, exchange business cards, tell them something you’ve always wanted to tell them to their face, and you need to go there prepared to do that. And so I know that you and I had this experience at Premiere Orlando a couple of years ago. Do you remember that experience?
ASHLEY: I do.
JAIME: I remember going there when someone who’s quite famous, who happens to live in Chicago was going to be presenting a class because he had recently invested in the beauty industry.
ASHLEY: My favorite CNBC talent, Marcus Lemonis.
JAIME: Here was a chance to actually get a question answered. Now, does he know who I am from Adam at this point? Absolutely not, but I was able to engage and trade shows are wonderful for that opportunity because you are interacting directly with someone who normally may not respond to a Facebook message, or answer your calls, or respond to a text message if you happen to even get their phone number, but here you could actually have that direct interaction.
ASHLEY: You’re so right. This is something that I can speak to firsthand. Again, going back to that first show that I went to, I went to the Nails Magazine booth and introduced myself to the editor, at the time Hannah Lee, because I admired everything they were doing. And as a direct result from walking up to that booth and introducing myself, I was picked to have the next cover of Nails Magazine which I know that doesn’t happen. I know how lucky I am, but that just drives the point home of you never know, and you have to seize every opportunity. Now that doesn’t mean running after people and stalking them or being impertinent, but it definitely, you never know when you’re going to get that chance to be in front of that person again. And so perfecting your elevator pitch, having your business cards, just knowing what you’re going to say when you walk up to them and being prepared for that moment is really valuable.
JAIME: And it’s okay to be a bit starstruck. I’m sure they get that a lot. And I know some may agree and some may disagree with me, but I don’t use that as an opportunity to get a selfie necessarily. I want to make a connection. That’s not about proving that I was there, if that makes sense.
ASHLEY: Well, and you say something in your classes that really resonates with me about being memorable at a show. Can you share that with the group?
JAIME: Oh, I was thinking of something else just now. I know that I often say it’s not who, you know, it’s who knows you. And if you are, for example, the only nail professional that a bunch of fabulous hairstylists know, then that elevates you. I’m not sure if that’s what you meant. I don’t think it’s what you meant.
ASHLEY: That’s okay. You have so many nuggets of wisdom and amazing gems that you come out with. How could you keep them all straight?
JAIME: Um, I need more clues.
ASHLEY: Okay. It had to do more with speaking to new educators on the scene, and speaking about being a good student in a classroom, and essentially you said that I’m only going to remember two or three people per show.
JAIME: Oh, yes.
ASHLEY: After the whirlwind of the weekend is over. Do you want to be a person who is remembered for a positive reason or a negative reason? And what is it that you can do to be remembered positively?
JAIME: Yes. I think that if you were that person in that position who was being admired, and you are going to go to a trade show, and you’re going to have all of these people who want your attention, I think you could expect to be taking lots and lots of selfies. So I don’t think that there’s anything particularly special about that.
If you could make an effort that goes beyond what other people are doing, and I don’t mean embarrass yourself or, or anything like that, but in the setting of a classroom, I think one of the things that you can most definitely do is to make an introduction, to introduce yourself by name, where you work, what state you’re coming from, just to make that personal connection, and to thank them for being there, and being so generous with their time.
ASHLEY: Absolutely. I think a meet and greet line where everyone’s expecting to take selfies, I would remember the person who looked me in the eye, shook my hand, gave me their card, and planted the seed. And so at a show, it’s just so important if you’re, if you’re waiting in line to check out to buy 10 for $20 lashes instead of using that time to make your presence at that show felt and known, it can be considered maybe a waste of time. Now I’m not saying I’m not in line getting my lashes, but I’m also saying, be strategic about how you use your time and if it’s going to be a party weekend for you, I mean we’ve all seen that sad story. So if you don’t even make it into the room and you’re in the hotel hallway, these things happen.
JAIME: My sixth thing would have been get your sleep because you can’t do any of this well unless you’re well-rested. So I know we only limit ourselves to five things, but let’s get back to your list, Ashley. I know you have something that you want to share with us.
ASHLEY: One of my first things that I do when I enter the building of the show is I make a beeline for the stack of show guides, the actual physical book that I can look at, and get my hands on, and look at everything I need to know. Everything you need to know for the show is in that book, whether it’s the schedule, the class schedule, the class descriptions, the ads, the map of the show floor. The show guide is something that you should absolutely make a point to grab and study. Grab it. If you can get in the night before the show starts, go over to the convention center. Go to registration. Pick up your badge. Pick up your show guide. Take it back to the hotel, or out to dinner, or whatever you’re going to do. And it’s time to plan your attack. Open that show guide. Get familiar with the layout of the show floor. There might be a secondary show location, like another ballroom or something on another level that you’re not familiar with. Go through everything. Go through all of the show descriptions. Mark what you want to take. Mark where they are on the show map. Figure out where the classrooms are, but then go through and just look at the ads. Look at what people and brands are promoting. And that can give you a really good idea of what you want to spend your time on, and what you can skip as well as what classes are a must attend for you, and what classes are just a wishlist item. The show guide shows you everything you need to know, and what you should really be paying attention to, and what you can kind of leave by the wayside, and pursue other things. I love the show guide, Jaime. I know you keep your show guides for years and years in order to go back and even trend spot retroactively. But I think the show guide is something that I just see them like left in classrooms. I see them stacked on top of garbage cans. It’s like it really makes me sad because I know the work that goes into those is monumental, but the information you can glean from the show guide, you can find out what educators are affiliated with what companies this year. You can find out what the trend is in business education. You can find out who’s got their finger on the pulse as far as educators are concerned. And I think, you know, we’re not too shabby ourselves, but can’t stress that enough. Get yourself a show guide, maybe get two, just to have a backup copy, and yeah, you can really plan your course of attack.
JAIME: So much effort goes into the show guide and obviously the costs and the resources into the printing. I think a lot of people do feel it’s just only good for the weekend, but I do like to take them home and review them because it helps prompt me to take some action based on perhaps a booth I walked past or a person I connected with. So I do hang on to them. Another trend that we’re seeing that goes along with the show guide issue is that a number of shows are introducing apps that you would use during the show weekend so that you could use your phone to keep track of your schedule and to plan your favorite booths to visit and your classes. And so that’s another way that they’re trying to get more digital and interact with the attendees more directly. I think that’s a great idea. I, at one point, will imagine we won’t be seeing the show guides anymore in its paper form, but we’ll see how that goes.
ASHLEY: And that makes me sad because the apps are great and you can set reminders as well for classes you don’t want to miss, but the apps will roll over from year to year. So all that information you lose after the show’s over, to some extent. So I still love me a paper show guide. And I ended up hauling them back and forth on the plane back and forth to the convention center, but I would be lost without it. So, all right, Jaime, what is your number three thing?
JAIME: My number three thing to do that doesn’t involve shopping is attending a class outside my specialty. And interestingly enough, the last time this happened was at the last show, and it happened because of the show guide. I knew that I had essentially some time to kill, which sounds terrible. Here you are at this big trade show. I’d already walked the entire show floor so I had already done that portion. But I knew I had some time before I was teaching a class and typically there’s so little time, I thought, you know, none of this is going to interest me. What are the chances? And I just happened to read through a description, and I looked at the time it was offered, and unbelievably it fit in a half hour before my class. I could not believe it, and I dashed to that room, and it really changed the trajectory of my entire weekend attending this one class. It’s amazing that one class can essentially answer questions you didn’t even know you have, or redirect your business, or take you into another direction. I think that’s one of the most amazing things about a trade show. Had I not scanned through the show guide, and seen that class listed, and actually attended it, and then did those other things like introducing myself to the educator, I wouldn’t have had the same show weekend at all.
ASHLEY: That’s really cool. I admire that about you because I can sometimes be very insular with my time, especially when I am very scheduled like I am at a lot of the larger shows, and as we both are just with our education schedule, and our extracurricular schedule. But I think it’s important to really broaden your horizons, especially if you know what’s going on outside of your specialty, it can give you a broad perspective about what’s going on in your specialty. And so if you know that the big trend in hair is one thing, you can also think about how can I use that trend or how can I tailor that trend to my specialty, and really capitalize on the popularity of something, and bring it into your own four walls. And so trade shows are so great for that because they’re not standing at the door and asking if you do lashes, or if you’re a massage therapist. They’ll let you in if it’s a free class and that way you can just kind of see like what the big concerns are still in beauty, but maybe not in your direct scope of practice. So that’s really fun. I would highly recommend that for everybody at your next show. Just schedule in a class that you wouldn’t necessarily use in your business and you’d be surprised at how useful some of that info could be.
JAIME: Yeah, you might not be considered the target audience, but you as a student can decide how to use the information that’s presented. I know that I am definitely not only using the information that was presented, but in essence, trying to make a deeper connection to what was represented, and going forward, integrating that into my own business, and using it as part of my advocacy.
ASHLEY: Wow. Well, that’s a great tip.
JAIME: A future episode.
ASHLEY: I have a feeling I know what it is. All right. Very cool. Well, my number four is I like to competitive shop. Now I know we said that it wasn’t about shopping at the trade show, but what I mean by competitive shop is if you’ve ever thought about launching your own brand or launching your own product line, a trade show is a great place to see where you would fit in within the market if you were to launch your product and what kind of need there might be in the market for something that you would create. I also think you can competitive shop with other classes. You can competitive shop other educators, which might be a little bit controversial, but there’s always a great way to compare and contrast whatever your next moves are. There’s going to be someone else on a similar track at that show. And so competitive shopping can also mean if there’s something in a category where it might be a vivids color line that everybody acknowledges is the absolute best and you start competitive shopping with maybe a smaller brand or maybe finding something that might work better for your clients that isn’t the established norm. A trade show is a great way to assess your current product usage and find out is there something better out there that could perform better? Might cost less? It’s a great way to just throw everything up and start looking at alternatives. It’s a great way to, to have your product lines earn their place in your salon. So I love to competitive shop. I love to pit brands against each other for my own amusement. I like to just make sure that I’m using the absolute best thing possible for me and for my clients.
JAIME: You’re able to do your research in one location and as satisfied as you might be with the products that you’re using, again, I think you need to be open-minded and take in information from other brands so that even after doing an evaluation, if you still choose to use the product you walked in with, it’s because you know that you’ve explored other options and it’s still considered the best. Other times, you’re going to find something better and that’s okay. You can let that go and then move forward with whatever new product you happen to discover while you’re at the show.
ASHLEY: Totally. Everything has to earn its place in your business. Loyalty is great, but efficacy is better, and efficiency is best. So it’s a great way to make sure that everything you’re using is the absolute best possible option. All right. Number four, Jaime, lay it on me.
JAIME: Well, speaking of earning your place, I don’t go to dinner with just anyone, Ashley.
ASHLEY: That’s so good to know.
JAIME: As far as my time is concerned, if you think my time at the show is limited, my time outside the show is sacred because I’m not obligated to do anything except the things that I want to do. So sleep being number one, we need to eat, and as far as connecting with friends go, I love doing it over a meal because then we can have that conversation away from the show floor and we can share what we learned throughout the day, catch up on what’s happening in our lives. I just think it’s a really wonderful way to connect with people out of the show arena and we have to eat anyway. And if people don’t like to eat alone, this is what we do. I happen to not mind eating alone and there are some times when I’d prefer it. But in terms of making the most of our time at the show, if it’s between connecting with friends and going to a really important class, I’d rather go to the class.
ASHLEY: I agree, and sharing a meal with friends outside of the show is kind of a foregone conclusion. I would challenge listeners to maybe share a meal with someone that they didn’t travel with, or someone they’re not staying with, or include someone in their group that they don’t know because it’s such a great way to create a new connection. It’s like networking with dinner and drinks. It’s just the best way. I made a connection at Premiere Birmingham last year that I’m still working with, and we’re still collaborating, and featuring each other as educators in each other’s brands. And that was just a chance encounter at the restaurant after the show. And so you, again, you never know what you’re going to kind of fall into when you put yourself in the right place at the right time and have the right mindset to make the most of these potential connections. Plus, I love our meals at shows because first of all, they happen at 4:00 PM. Second of all, it’s a great way to download all of the information that we’ve gathered and gleaned from each other and for each other so that the next day can be even better. And we can really hit the ground running with the new information that we’ve learned. So I really enjoy those. They’re some of my favorite times ever, just laughing and having a great time at the show with new friends, old friends, but it’s a great way to maximize your time outside of the show floor.
JAIME: And we always have our show guide at the table.
ASHLEY: Of course.
JAIME: We’re always referencing it as we’re waiting for our order to be taken. In fact, sometimes we have to like stop what we’re doing in the show guide, look at the menu, make sure we get our order, and then we can go back to talking about what we’ve seen at the show that day, and what we’re looking forward to the next day.
ASHLEY: I do love a show guide. It’s just the best. Okay, my last item is something that I need to be better at myself. So I’m going to hold myself accountable to this. But number five is give feedback to the show and I was originally going to say recap the show for social media, but I think it’s more important to give feedback to the show directly, and let them know what I loved about the show, what was successful, and then constructive criticism on what could be improved, or what maybe didn’t work out fabulously. But I think it’s especially important if you’re an attendee of the show and you want to make sure that the show continues with the momentum of the positive things that they’ve implemented. You have to reinforce the behaviors that you want to see again and again at the shows for years, and years, and years to come. And so if you saw an educator that you thought was absolutely phenomenal, if you saw a demo that you couldn’t believe was happening for free on the show floor, if you felt like an influencer was there that you really enjoyed, whatever it is, you have to tell the show directly because getting on Facebook and just complaining to each other doesn’t change anything. And it also doesn’t, it doesn’t make you feel any better than if you were to reach out to the show directly and say, hey, I attended. I had a great time. Here are the things I really enjoyed. Here’s what I’d love to see next year. Thanks so much.
JAIME: And I think that reflects well on you when you do it in the way that you’re describing, because you have to recognize the amount of work that goes into producing a show. It takes an entire team of people that work year round, organizing, promoting, dealing with travel and unions, setting up the show itself, and it just goes on and on, and they need to hear what they’re doing well. They need to know what the priorities are of the attendees. And I think in the future, we’re going to see more and more something that I saw for the first time more recently at the ISSE Long Beach show, and that was the attendees were scanned as they came into the classrooms. And why is that important? Because at other shows, sometimes the organizers have no idea how many people are attending. So not only do they know how many people are attending a class, they know who’s attending the class.
ASHLEY: That’s really cool.
JAIME: At some point in the future. I mean, I could even foresee something where maybe that app is literally tracking your movements at the show so they know where you’re spending your time, whether it’s on the show floor, or in the classrooms, or standing in line for the bar, who knows, but.
ASHLEY: Or standing in line for coffee.
JAIME: Maybe you’re standing in line too long at registration and they know they need to do something to upgrade their registration process so that people are able to get their badges, and get onto the show floor, or get to their classroom in a more expedient manner. So I think that there’s a lot happening in terms of feedback, but for right now, that effort that you make to send an email and to do it privately, in particular, will help open up a dialogue so that when they do review what went wrong or what went well the show weekend, you know maybe there’s some information there that they’ll use for next year. Maybe they’re going to reach out to you and ask for more of your input. That way you could have a true impact on the show as it improves year after year.
ASHLEY: Be aware. If you do give feedback, you may be asked to give more feedback and you may end up working with the show in order to improve it. So just understand that putting yourself in that position as a voice of authority or some authority on what the industry wants, you might be asked again to assume that role, which is very cool and hopefully, more of us fall into that role because I think trade shows could do with more direct feedback, of course. So I’m very curious, Jaime, what is your fifth item?
JAIME: My fifth item is to make an introduction at least once where you’re connecting two people at the show who otherwise might not connect at all, because let’s face it. There’s so much happening at a show, particularly if you’re working at a booth. You’re not going to have the option if you’re working at a booth, whether it’s your company or you’re working for someone else, to go to the classrooms, to walk the show floor, to do some of the things that we talk about doing. That’s just not going to happen. So when you, as you are making your rounds and exploring your own connections, realize that there are two people that you know that should know each other and you’re able to introduce them face to face at the show, I think that’s a wonderful thing. I love leaving a show, knowing that I’ve introduced two people who on their own will be able to develop their own relationship and who knows what we’ll come of that.
ASHLEY: Yeah, it’s a very powerful position to be in. If you can make those connections, and draw those lines for people, and help them understand that this is someone they need to know, and here’s why. That’s maybe the most powerful thing you can do at a trade show and the most powerful form of networking is to create the network itself. I really enjoyed learning your top five items and your top five things you like to do at shows. Even though I spend a lot of the shows with you, I always find it fascinating to know what other people’s strategies are for how they want to best spend their time.
ASHLEY: Well, that was awkward, but insightful. So Jaime, would you change or add anything to your list?
JAIME: I still stand by the content. I think what we shared is pretty timeless.
ASHLEY: I agree. I think listening back, even though this was oh, 18 months ago, it was relevant for the world then, and it’s relevant for the world now, even though it looks different on either side of this whole thing, but I would keep that all the same too. I think just being together is like we said a luxury and it’s going to be that much more meaningful when we can all finally get together in October.
JAIME: Maybe we just add wearing masks.
JAIME: To everything we said.
ASHLEY: Wearing masks, being safe. We can make sure that we still have this opportunity by being safe leading up to and including the show. Well, we’re excited to be with our listeners and industry friends at Premiere Orlando in October. You can visit outgrowthpodcast.com/premiere to see our entire class schedule and you can actually add them right to your calendar from that page.
JAIME: If you’re enjoying Outgrowth, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts with one click. Just visit bit.ly/outgrowthpodcast.
ASHLEY: And as always, you can follow along and comment on recent episodes on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast. Until next week, be smart.
JAIME: Be safe.