Five top tips for working a trade show... September 19 2016
I'm back, after a long and slow Summer off with my family ; we've holidayed in Cornwall, spent endless days chilling in the garden and generally switched off from the world (especially anything work or tech related) for the whole month of August and it's been absolute bliss.
And after some serious downtime September sees us easin' ourselves back in feeling refreshed, re-energised and ready to go, oh yeah!
The new season always starts with a couple of buying trips to trade shows for me and Mr C and we always have the same conversations in the car on the way home... we talk about the products we fall immediately in love with, the suppliers, designers and makers we want to sell in our store and we also talk about the things that can make or break a deal for us too... these same things stand out 'every time' so today as I worked my way through a ton of brochures, I thought it would be a good idea to blog about them here...
Number 1 - BE FRIENDLY!! seems obvious huh?! but so many suppliers don't even say "hello" ok, so no one wants to be pounced upon immediately but we don't want to be ignored either! If you are playing it too cool for school, chances are we ain't gonna fall in love anytime soon. Even if you are busy with another client, just raise your head for half a second (seriously, that's all it takes) and say "hi" because chances are, if I've stood around for longer than a minute or two and nobody's acknowledged me, I'm gonna head off to find some one who is up for chat. Chatting leads to relationships and nice friendly relationships leads to sales! Result.
Number 2 - Have your products clearly priced, as a buyer it really feels like too much hard work to have to ask about every single item on a stand and price is very often an indicator as to wether it's going to be a good fit for your store or not, make it easy for your buyers to make snappy decisions, time is of the essence and you want to keep your customers keen and interested and hopefully get them making decisions there and then.
Number 3 - Treats! even teeny tiny ones make a huge difference, they don't need to be expensive, just a small token gesture with a nod towards your product or service (use your imagination) because by the time us buyers get home, we are pretty much laden down with a million catalogues to work our way through. Treats act as a perfect reminder of you and your brand or product and are a guaranteed way of making you stand out from the crowd. Plus it's always nice to give right?... :)
Number 4 - Minimum orders, gah! Why so huge?... It's far better to offer some flexibility and leeway to entice potential new customers to place an order. Large minimums can be so daunting if you're a small indie business trying to spread your budget across several brands. Chances are if it sells well you will end up re-ordering heaps more next time anyway so it's win win for everyone. I've lost count of the amount of time suppliers have dug their heels in and missed out on a sale. A sale which could potentially lead to a longstanding relationship. Tut Tut. I promise if you work together everyone will be happy.
And finally, number 5 - Keep in touch, just because it didn't happen on the day doesn't mean it won't happen at all. Don't be afraid to send a nice 'friendly' follow up email, it can go a long way to securing an order at a later date. Sometimes I add suppliers to my 'maybe pile' and an email or phone call to jog my memory afterwards works wonders if you happen to catch me at the right time!
Ok. so that's my top five tips for working a trade show. I hope if you're just starting out or thinking of doing a show in the future, these tips will help. It's a tough marketplace out there and if you've paid a small fortune for your pitch, you'll want to make the most of every opportunity. I've been visiting trade shows for nearly 20 years, so I'm talking from experience! It could make the crucial difference between a potential stockist placing an order or walking away. Good luck!