Wednesday, November 25, 2015

5 Keys to Choosing A Barber Networking Event

You saw that post on Facebook or Instagram and you don't know if it's worth the 2 hour drive or 6 hour flight to that Barber Competition.  Between my business partner Martin and I we have attended over 40 Barber Battles, and Beauty Shows over the past 7 years.  We have hosted 3 ourselves and we can usually spot a good show a mile away and likewise a bad show. So what do we look for and what should YOU look for as you look to spend your time AND money wisely.

Barber Experience

Ask yourself, have you ever heard of the promoter or event before?  Anyone can scrap together a 'first' show.  Is this their first show or their fifth?   Even small shows that occur regularly every year can slowly build into decent sized shows with better and better content and vendors. Check their website, do they have photos of the past events?  Ask around, has anyone you know been to one of their shows before? 

Sponsors for Barber Conventions

It seems like every barber show on earth has three sponsors, Andis, Oster, and Wahl.  If you've seen the posters, and flyers, you know those logos are always there.  Promoters love to use logos from major brands to make their show look more 'official'.  While these are great companies, these three logos typically mean nothing when printed on a flyer.  Will representatives from these companies be at the show?  Most likely not.  We've attended shows where one or two of these companies are listed as the main sponsor, and could not find even ONE of their products for sale at the show.

Another tactic of Promoters is to fill the flyer with any and every logo under the sun.  Does your cousin sell auto insurance?  Put his logo on there!  When you look at the advertisement quickly evaluate which logos are just put there for fluff and which are meaningful.

Meaningful sponsors are the key brands that are big enough to bring innovative products and education to the event, but not so big that they can't be troubled to catch a plane once in a while.  You are looking for brands in the middle, you know, the people who are working to improve your industry.  No matter how big we get, we will make sure MD Barber is always be in this category - but there are others to look for as well.

Education Opportunities

 Quality education at a trade show is very rare.  For the most part the educators are selling something and that's okay because the sales help pay for the education, but way too often the educator is nothing more than a salesman.  Just like any type of learning, class size is a factor.  See if you can find out how many people will be attending the classes, and make sure there will be a chance to ask questions.  Education is a two-way street and a product demo is not education.

It also pays to identify your educational goals and then decide which events offer education in the areas you want to work on.  Do you need to learn clipper over comb?  Or do you want to learn social media marketing techniques?  Look for the even that has what you need.

Location of Barber Conventions

 We have seen tiny venues packed out and filled with barbers and we have seen huge venues that felt empty and boring.  Typically Bars and Clubs are very low cost venues for Promoters.  The 'host' club or bar makes most of their money on drinks and doesn't charge the Promoter to use the space.  Stay away from these events.  If the Promoter can't pay for a half-way decent facility, they probably can't put on a good show.  There are some exceptions, but be selective if you hear the event will be at a resturaunt, bar, or club.

Conference centers are HUGE and expensive.  Barber events usually don't draw enough money from sponsors to pay for these facilities (sad but true) and if a Promoter is booking an expensive venue you better believe that's less money to spend on educators, prizes, etc.  Look for an event held at a inexpensive public facility like a dance hall, fair grounds, or a hotel ball room.  These are the events that usually bring the biggest value for the participants.

Value of the Barber Convention

You get what you pay for right?  Wrong.  You should never be satisfied with getting what you paid for!  Instead, get more than you paid for.  Write out a list of upcoming events and try to add up the cost of each one including travel, missed time at work, etc..  Time is money, especially for barbers!

After you have a list of costs for each event, write out the benefits of each show.  Are there networking opportunities?  Vendors you want to meet?  Education you need?   The cheapest show could be the biggest waste of money.  Unless you add up the benefits you will not know which show or shows are the best value to YOU.

After each show you attend, write down some bullet points outlining the benefits you received from attending the show and evaluate whether it was a good investment.  There are lots of good shows out there and plenty of bad ones.   If you need a recommendation for shows near you just send me an email.  Yes I do answer my email!  Email me at or call 866 939 5588 and ask for me.