Trade shows are a necessary component for both brands and buyers alike. Attending a trade show allows for both brands and buyers, (or B&B’s as we like to call them!) to meet and network with one another as well as discover current market needs and interests. Of course, whether you’re a brand or a buyer the best outcome of attending a trade show is to make the absolute most of it - and with several years of trade show experience under our belts, we’ve found the following tips and tricks the most helpful in ensuring a successful show.
Let’s start off with addressing the brands who will be making their trade show attending decisions sooner rather than later. Attending is a huge investment on its own and it is understandable that finding the right show is quite the task when you’re looking to create new customers and maintain relationships with existing ones. Trust us - we get it! That’s why we have worked so hard at creating a show floor unlike any other; we make a boutique-like experience that caters to your desire to stand out to the right group of buyers. We give you all of the initial tools you’ll need to create a beautiful and engaging space to write up orders and cultivate relationships while you’re at it. Once you’ve found your ideal show location, you’ve moved on to the second step of ensuring a successful show - merchandising your booth and product. We always hear how important it is for items to be merchandised well inside retail shops to ensure their utmost success, so why would we expect anything less from our trade show booths? Creating a unique atmosphere within your booth is key. It is what helps draw in new customers, and we all love seeing new faces, so having a booth that stands apart from others is something to heavily lean on. Whether it is cute chairs, a custom booth package, beautiful signage, or a combination of everything together - how you dress up your booth is just as important as securing the correct show. So step #2 MERCHANDISE, MERCHANDISE, MERCHANDISE; no one knows your brand better than you, so show them it at its finest.
Step #3 Welcome back your loyal customers! We’ve all heard about the 80/20 rule… so why don’t we still utilize it. Yes, new customers are amazing but making sure your loyal customers know where you are and what shows you are attending is extremely important. We can not stress this enough. Your customers want to know if you are coming to a show near them and they want to see you - maintaining that relationship is why it is so important to welcome them to the shows that you are attending. We’ve finally moved past the days of zoom and are ready and willing to be face to face, so why not encourage them to come take a look? Send an email before the show to let them know you’ll be waiting with open arms to see them in person again - update social media with your show calendars, and encourage them to follow the show pages for the most up to date news - you’re only helping yourselves create that customer flow. We’ll say it again - welcoming your customers before and during the show is the absolute smartest move - communication is key and informed buyers are the best kind of buyers: they show up and shop!
Rule number 4 should be a no brainer by now - Social Media. It is no longer an option to ignore a social presence in lieu of old school shopping mentalities of if you build it, they will come. You absolutely must utilize your social presence (Did you catch our Mind Your Social Media Business article in our last ILOE Magazine?!). It’s simple. You have to be engaging to be engaged with. If you want customers, you have to talk to customers. If you want them to buy something, you have to show them what to buy. If you want them to visit your show, you have to tell them where you’ll be and when. Give your audience every ounce of your attention if you’re wanting the same from them in return. Social Media is easy to update and gives you a platform to speak one on one with clients as well as update them on the spot with things like booth numbers and where you’ll be located on the showroom floor. Instagram and Facebook are key social media platforms that everyone uses. Make yourself known on social media, it is a great way to connect with all your customers and a great tool to use when trying to inform yourself about what is in demand/ trending.
Last but not least, step #5 is to show up and work the show hard! This is your time to shine and show what amazing products you have to offer your buyers. For some, this is the first time in years you’ll be having an opportunity to get your products in front of people so be sure to show up with a game plan. Set goals, build a plan on how you’ll obtain those goals and be sure to bring any tools you’ll need to be in the best selling space for your brand. It is vital to have a plan to follow - that starts as soon as you sign your contract and literally carries all the way through until the closing of the shows. Be prepared with shipping your products from location to location, be aware of your travel plans and hotel stays, secure any thing you’ll need to enhance the buyers experience inside your booth, and finally be sure to bring along a can-do-attitude sales team. When it comes to setting goals, be sure to set the bar at an obtainable goal and then give yourself a stretch goal - you’ll never know what the power of positive selling tactics can do for you on the show floor. Our suggestions are to give yourself a realistic idea of how many written sales orders, new accounts, and new networking partners you’d like to achieve by the end of the show.
Now that you have the basic steps for a successful show, you’ve got to put them into motion. Let’s recap: start by picking the right show for you (Apply Here to Exhibit at ILOE Studios!), then create a beautiful, inviting environment for your shoppers to visit, be sure to engage with those already existing customers, utilize social media and finally, set some realistic goals.
These 5 basic rules are here for you to utilize when planning for a successful show experience. You know your brand better than anyone else so do what will work best for you - but don’t forget, you have to show up in big ways if you want to be successful in big ways.
Written By: Chandler LeCoq