La Basketry made its trade show debut this July and even though I’ve organised trade show for years, there’s a lot of lessons I’ve learned from being on the other side...
Lesson 1: Create a cost-effective yet striking stand
Your stand is a visual representation of your brand so allow yourself enough time to really think about it.
Produce items that you will be able to re-use - printing your logo as a vinyl for example and foamex boards are great. I printed several boards as A3 for as little as £10 per piece.
Plants and flowers always add some life to exhibition halls so bring in some greenery and borrow items from your own home: rugs, toys, candles, books etc...
Light boxes are a nice little addition if you would like to display your hashtag or social media handles.
Lesson 2: You’re not alone!
Speak to your neighbours - you’re all on the same boat. I picked up some great tips, contacts, suppliers from the exhibitors around me.
Don’t wait for the organisers to come and talk to you - they’re busy on-site so approach them before the event and make sure you discuss pre-show opportunities. It could be something as having one of your products on display in the organisers office / press office or gifting something for the goodie bags.
Lesson 3: Engage with visitors
This is an obvious one but I’m always surprised at the numbers of exhibitors I see reading a book or a magazine and not really paying attention to the people wandering around their stand.
The conversation doesn’t have to be “salesy” from the get-go but starting with something like ‘How are you? How are you finding the show so far?’.
If someone was a retailer or an e-tailer, I would always ask them if they were on social media and gave them a follow straight away - they will appreciate it plus you can check straight away the aesthetics of their business and see if your products would fit in.
Lesson 4: Write Notes on business cards or in your notepad
You’ll pick up a lot of business cards so make sure you stay on top! I had a trade show notepad with all business cards I collected stapled and a couple of lines on the buyer.
For example: nice interiors shop from Dublin, keen to support organic and ethical brands. Send her price lists and more info on the artisans.
Lesson 5: Don't expect to write orders
Although I did write a couple, buyers tend to have appointments with their regular suppliers and place orders on-site with them.
For a newbie, they will stop by, touch the products, ask you questions about your current stockists and take your lookbook and details because the hard work starts post-show. As a brand who's launched less than 6 months ago, they need to make sure that you're serious about your business, will deliver on time and will not go bust by the end of the year.
Have I missed out anything? Have you done a trade show as a first time exhibitor and have some tips to share? Let me know.