[MUSIC PLAYING] Everyone will tell you the trade shows can be a bit hit or miss, and finding the right show that works for you will require some experimentation. Trade shows provide an opportunity to expose your brand to as many stakeholders as possible. This includes retail buyers, industry influencers, potential investors, sales reps, ambassadors and many more. In other words, they are a giant networking opportunity. Picking the right trade show can be an overwhelming process, as they are a big investment of time and money.
Between travel, booth fees, booth build, sampling, and materials, you are looking at least a $10,000 investment, not to mention the manpower and energy required. Here's what I suggest you keep in mind when selecting a trade show that's going to bring you a return on that energy. Number one, right off the bat, I always recommend walking or scouting a show before committing to a booth.
If you have the budget to send someone to check it out firsthand, you will know immediately whether it's a good fit for you. Number two, quality over quantity. Try to pick the most ideal show that's going to give you maximum exposure for your budget. It's better to go to one good show than five not so good shows. Number three, look to your successful competitors, what shows are they attending?
Number four, try to avoid new trade shows that are in their first season, it just won't have the turn out you're looking for and it's a little too risky. Number five, do your research. Call your trade show territory reps and ask them tons of questions. What's the buyer turnout like? What other brands attend? What key accounts like department stores attend? Is it a local show or a national show?
Number six, talk to other brands about their experience with trade shows. Get the inside scoop from brands who have already exhibited. What's the traffic like? What's the quality of the retailers that attend? Get the inside scoop from brands who have already exhibited. What's the traffic like? What's the quality of retailers who attend? Is it a show where buyers typically write orders on the spot or wait to do orders post show?
This is the most valuable research you do. Number seven, when you do decide do an exhibit at a show, be sure to pick the right location on the floor. Invest time in making sure you get a good booth location near brands that are complimentary and always try to get a corner. It can often take a few times exhibiting at a show to begin seeing real monetary return. You might get lucky or it might take some time. But it's important to remember that the success of a trade show isn't always measured in orders and dollars.
And it's important to consider all the other benefits of attending a trade show, especially in the early days. There are lots of intangible things that can determine the success of a show. For example, it's an opportunity to connect you to local sales reps, other brands who could be strategic marketing partners, designers, and industry specialists, and potential investors. There are tons of networking opportunities. Lastly, it's important to know that not all shows are what they call writing shows, meaning buyers don't necessarily write orders in your booth at the show.
Most shows require a detailed follow up strategy, which can be weeks of work. When we came home from trade shows, I would translate all of my meeting notes and contacts into a tracking document, and reach out to each buyer I met in the booth by phone and email in hopes of getting orders and opening new doors. Here's a quick tip, for every buyer or contact you meet at the show, ask for their business card and staple it to a sheet of note paper and a binder.
Write down any notes that are relevant. Little details can be really important, especially as you follow up with them post show. My notes would range from daughter plays tennis to expanding from 2 to 5 doors in 2017. The more you know about their business, the more impressed and interested they will be in you and your brand. I've also included a supplementary document that includes a trade show checklist.
It includes my tips as you prep for your first trade shows. In our next and final lesson, we're going to figure out how all of this comes together. Who's in charge and how you're going to build your wholesale team? [MUSIC PLAYING]