Tradeshow marketing is a serious tool in every distributor’s and wholesaler’s bag of tricks, delivering top-notch ROI with remarkable efficiency. But while the excitement and chaos of it all may be beneficial for those making the sales, it can be overwhelming for small business owners and other buyers representing smoke and vape shops on the show floor — and that’s all by design. With the growth of tradeshows at the intersection of technology, wholesalers have a distinct advantage in negotiations, the most significant being that small business owners may be unaware of their tactics.
“From multi-sensory experiences to targeted focusing of light, distributors are using technology to their advantage, turning tradeshows into a seller’s market,” says Creative Propulsion Labs CEO and Founder Adam Mizrahi. His company, a full-service marketing solutions agency based out of Miami has helped scores of companies in the smoke and vape industry set-up and prepare for tradeshows across the country.
“Wholesalers want to make you comfortable and then overwhelm you with technology,” he continued. “It’s a guaranteed way for them to make a sale.”
Those in the smoke and vape industry need not fret; however, as being well-prepared is the best negotiating tactic of all. Here are a few tips and tricks to help small business owners level the playing field when out and about on the tradeshow circuit.
Multi-Sensory Experiences Are a Distraction
As tradeshows in the industry grow, it’s important to remember that the only thing bigger means is bigger — not better. Exhibitors have always looked to attract attendees with larger and flashier booths, but the addition of technology is designed to do more than attract, it’s there to distract.
Multi-sensory experiences have become commonplace for vendors. Amplifying the tradeshow experience is meant to engage visitors through all five senses. It’s why buyers these days are enveloped in mood lighting, television screens, touchpads, music, and even video games at almost every booth they visit.
Research shows that even the smell of a booth has the power to sway buyers.
“A multi-sensory experience is an absolute must for vendors,” says Mizrahi. “In many ways, it’s a signal to buyers about the quality of your brand.”
But it’s important to note it can also be a distraction to buyers, especially small business owners who don’t do their homework before the show.
“A vendor may have the flashiest booth on the floor, one that’s full of the latest technological advances,” he continued. “But buyers shouldn’t let that distract them from the products themselves. You’re not buying a TV screen; you’re buying a brand of vape juice. Enjoy the light show, but be sure to do your homework about the product.”
Slow Down on the Exhibit Floor
Speaking of being overwhelmed, not only are booths growing in size these days, but the shows themselves are as well. The more popular tradeshows in the smoke and vape industry now invite hundreds — if not almost 1000 vendors to display their wares. Exhibitor halls can feel like a sizeable chaotic mess, one that a buyer may want to leave quickly.
The sheer size of these shows can feel intimidating, forcing small business owners into a quick buy that they may regret later. Buyers and business owners need to take it all in and slow down on the exhibit floor.
Every show these days gives attendees all of the information they need up front, from which vendors will be there, to where their booths will be located. A smart strategy is to create a plan — buyers should review critical show logistics, choose which vendors they want to visit beforehand and decide on a plan of attack before they enter the exhibit hall.
“Never put yourself into a pressure situation at one of these events,” Mizrahi is quick to note. “It’s way too easy to see a hall full of hundreds of vendors and to think that the show is only two or three days long and to panic. You don’t need to visit every vendor if you know what you’re looking for.”
Don’t Become Too Comfortable
Of course, tradeshows are exhausting. It’s hours or even days of walking up and down aisle after aisle, perusing similar products that start to all look the same after a while. Buyers are bound to be tired — and that’s precisely for what wholesalers are hoping.
The best technology at contemporary tradeshows is still the vendor’s lounge. While a focus on the wow-factor is bound to turn some heads, a keen eye for comfort will attract almost anyone. But while vendors may good-at-heart, that lounge isn’t there for loitering. Even the couches are a marketing tactic.
“A comfortable buyer is more open to a sale, especially if they’ve been walking the show floor all day and find themselves getting tired,” Mizrahi says. “It’s important to be mindful of your surroundings as well as your own state-of-mind. When you’re tired and feeling a bit too comfortable, you may, again, make a purchase you wouldn’t have under different circumstances.”
And these days vendors have taken things to the next level, adding USB ports and phone and computer charging stations to their lounges. Comfort and convenience will always attract people, so it’s essential for buyers to be wary of becoming too comfortable.
“It’s all about staying alert, and staying on your toes,” continued Mizrahi. “You can always take a nap when you go home.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
Vendors, wholesalers, distributors — tradeshows are built by design to favor them in negotiations. They create the purchase terms and the buying atmosphere, but that doesn’t mean that buyers and small business owners don’t have any power. In the end, they can always walk away from the table.
Don’t forget that the smoke and vape industry is one of the few up and coming industries out there today, meaning there are more vendors and more options for buying.
It can once again be overwhelming — there’s that word again! — to negotiate with a vendor in the middle of a large exhibit, especially once they start trying to set non-negotiable terms. Minimum buys and shipping costs may appear to be set in stone at first, but everything is negotiable with some politeness and the right buying skills.
“Vendor terms often lead to overbuying for many small businesses, and many times buyers are afraid to walk away with nothing, so they agree to terms that are unfavorable to them,” says Mizrahi, who has helped businesses on both ends of the negotiating table at various tradeshows. “No matter how much you may want a certain product for your store, never be afraid to walk away.”
Finding the right deal may be the difference between balancing the books and struggling at the end of the year. And no one wants to have excess inventory sitting on their shelves. A good relationship with a distributor means finding a deal that works for both parties.
Learn a Little, and Network Too
Perhaps the most overlooked part of any tradeshow experience, at least for buyers, is the educational and networking aspects of the event. It is, after all, a chance to learn from and make connections with people from all across the globe.

“The best way to run a successful shop is to speak with others that run successful shops,” reminds Mizrahi. “Don’t forget to talk with as many people as possible and learn about the latest trends in the industry.”  SVBS

Brandon A. Dorfman is the Senior Writer/ Project Manager for Creative Propulsion Labs, a Miami-based marketing firm that provides comprehensive solutions in web, print, and digital marketing. Their services include user interface design, application design and development, web design, branding, corporate design services, digital advertising, social media marketing, content development, SEO, affiliate marketing, conversion optimization, and more. You can reach Creative Propulsion Labs at (786) 360-1669 or via email at [email protected] Or you can visit www.creativepl.com for more information.