Pro Tips For Making The Most Of ICAST Online

As I sit here writing this under leaden, overcast skies in way below average temperatures of about 59F on the other side of the Atlantic in the U.K., you can believe me when I say that I would much rather be in Orlando attending ICAST for real. We all probably would, but we have to play the cards we have been dealt. And the ASA has put together a really interesting and useful online edition of the show that can still massively benefit your business – you’ve just got to be prepared and be proactive. 

Get to grips with the system

The whole online show system is a completely new thing, and as such, you should set aside some time before you really get into it to figure out how it works and how it is laid out. There’s a comprehensive video that explains how everything works that is a great investment of eight minutes of your time. Beyond that, just have a click around the show and see how everything is connected without the pressure of meetings or needing to gather information. If you get really stuck, just remember there’s a big old search bar at the top of the ‘MyPlanner’ page to help you find what you need. 

Know your goals

Because you can’t just wander from booth to booth and chew the fat with old industry buddies, you will need to plan your goals in a much more solid way than you’re perhaps used to. Sometimes you go to ICAST with a few firm goals, and just see what other opportunities come up. This year, a little more planning will be required. It’s like when you shop online; browsing is much harder. Check our list of links to nail those product demos you can’t afford to miss, and then plan what to do in the time between those. Have a spare two hours on Wednesday? What do you want to achieve with that time? Plan it and write it down. Also remember that many companies have made pre-recorded product videos that you can watch at any time, so you can even schedule to watch those at regular intervals.

For me, I found making a longlist of things I was interested in by clicking the + symbols to add them to ‘MyPlanner’ was a good start. I then went through them in more detail to really hone-in on what I was interested in.

Organize a virtual social

By about 4pm on the last day of ICAST, I’m usually feeling pretty beat. Part of that (yes, only part) is down to the unbeatable social side of the show. We all know that a lot of the deals are done over a cold one in a bar or at a booth’s happy hour – so why not consider recreating that? Get in touch with some of those long-lost guys you only see once a year and have your own happy hour via video chat. Grab a beer, recount those fishy tales and talk about the industry. 

Don’t miss show specials

Getting a bargain is another of ICAST’s famous perks, and there are still a whole bunch of them on offer even in this digital form. Check the show specials section of the online show and bookmark those that look interesting by clicking the little + symbols in the top right-hand corner. You can then access them via your ‘MyPlanner’ section and work through your shortlist to take advantage of the ones you really want.

Go old school

Everyone is different, but I find that writing things down with pen and paper helps me remember them better. It could be tempting to stay totally electronic with how you plan and record information from the show but switching to pen and paper will give you a welcome break from the screen. There’s a heck of a lot of digital content and collateral available on the exhibitor pages, so take time to write down your key takeaways from each as you watch them so it doesn’t get lost in one big video mash-up in your mind.

Treat it like it’s real

For some retailers, ICAST comes at a time of year when your store is actually pretty busy. Making that trip down to Florida and either closing up, or running with a skeleton staff, means you have to squeeze every bit of value out of ICAST that you can. This year, because you don’t actually need to go anywhere to be part of it, it might be tempting not to get as involved – there’s firefighting needed in your busy store after all. Avoid that temptation, block time out for you and your staff to all take part in ICAST in as much of a way as you would normally. Treat it like you’re really heading down to Orlando (without the sweating). 

If you need help, ask

We’re not all computer whizz kids; some of us may have difficulty in using the online tools that are available in modern life that make a virtual show possible. Don’t throw in the towel if that’s the case, just ask for help. The ASA team is always on hand to talk you through, any problems you might have. There’s also a bunch of online support available for Zoom and the other video chat platforms being used.

Don’t let a little technophobia make you miss out on what is still a vitally important week for your business.