Yesterday I had an opportunity to check out Cirque Du Sysco. This was Sysco’s Atlanta food and restaurant convention.
Every kind of food, dressing, oil, gadget, and even chef shoes could be found here. People were cooking up whatever they were representing and the whole place was lit up with the smell of food.
Not a bad way to spend a day.
Why I Went
I found out about this even on Friday, it happened the following Tuesday.
The main reason I went to this is because just about every restaurant in Atlanta orders ‘something’ from Sysco. That means everyone at this event could be a potential customer for my online marketing for restaurants venture..
In order to get into the event, you have to be on Sysco’s list and or somehow affiliated with the industry. As a new business, we are not ‘actually’ affiliated in any way yet.
One of the restaurants that I do web development and social media management for turned me on to our area representative, who gladly walked me in.
Sysco offers something called iCare, which is a way for companies like mine to get involved as affiliates.
Sysco iCare provides restaurateurs with connections to business partners that help them compete, stay in the game and focus on what they do best.
Since I just found out about this event and iCare, we were unable to get a booth, so I had to get creative. I spent a short amount of time introducing myself and service to the other vendors in the iCare section and found some good prospects.
Turns out though, the people I wanted to talk to were not there as vendors with their own booths, they were there as patrons visiting all the booths.
So I did what any smart sales person would do and flipped my script. Instead of spending time talking to the vendors who are outside of my target market, I started bumping into and talking to anyone with a chef coat on.
Most of the chefs had their name and restaurant prominently displayed on their jacket, which gave me an easy in.
What I Learned
My way was the hard way.
Walking around and trying to strike up conversations with people mostly ended briefly. Many of the people were uninterested in talking to some random guy giving out business cards and talking about the internet.
Get a booth next year.
While Sysco itself is a massive corporation that does not necessarily pride itself on organic locally grown fresh food, they do have a huge audience.
Getting in front of that audience as a ‘trusted affiliate’ would easily get the right eyes on our brochures and offering.
Spend time meeting those in charge.
Even though I did not sign any new customers straight away from this, what I did do was meet and shake hands with people at Sysco that can help me get in front of the right people in the future.
The way I thought about it, one good connect could send many businesses my way that need help. Instead of trying to manually meet and talk to each and every individual restaurant, I wanted to meet those people who already do that, and can filter the right people my way.
I also met several other businesses in a similar space as my new venture, but doing different things. This leaves open lots of room to work together.
I would say it was a success!
The only thing I regret is not getting my picture taken with the Pillsbury Dough Boy.