Trade shows are an important part of how the retail business works. These shows, which happen throughout the year and across the country, are often on the radar for small product businesses. Even if you are not ready yet, you might be thinking about attending one as a long term goal.
I'm also going to outline when you shouldn't be thinking about a trade show, and what you should do instead.
If you're ready to seriously start planning a trade show stall for your product business, then you can sign up to the online workshop on trade shows right here:
What is a trade show?
A trade show is an event where individual brands can display their products to other retailers, or, "the trade".
They are not open to the general public, you have to register to visit and there are generally not any products for sale that can be taken home on the day.
They are typically themed so that brands in a similar part of the industry will be all together. For example, Natural Organic Products Exhibition groups together people working in the natural food and products industry.
The purpose of the trade show is to bring brands together so that retailers can easily visit many different businesses in a very short space of time.
They are usually free to attend for visitors, and the trade show may also offer a program of talks or workshops for attendees as an added bonus.
Why should you exhibit at a trade show?
There are three main reasons that you would want to exhibit at a trade show.
1. Growing your wholesale business
This is the main purpose for you to go to a trade show - to ramp up your wholesale business.
Trade shows are expensive so you need to be securing some decent orders as a result of the show in order to cover your costs.
You'll get the opportunity to pitch your brand multiple times and although you can't be pushy, always keep in mind that sales has to be your biggest priority.
It's great to meet people, see other brands in your niche and get your brand out there, but ultimately, trade shows are all about making money.
2. Brand profile
Being part of a high profile trade show can increase your brand awareness, not just with retailers but also with any customers who follow the show's social media as well as press who will be visiting the show to see what's new and exciting.
Attending a trade show sends a signal that you are a serious business and one to watch.
You'll get listed on the website of the show and your details will be in the show booklet that is given out, so you can guarantee that hundreds, if not thousands of people in your target market are going to see your name.
3. Access to hard-to-reach decision makers
Getting in front of a big retailer's decision maker is not easy to do - you have to make it through to the complicated layers of the organisation to talk to them, and secure an appointment before you can even present your ideas.
At a trade show, the buyer from a big retailer could definitely walk past your stall - be warned though, they are most likely not going to make it obvious who they are, so another reason to be friendly and enthusiastic to absolutely everyone you meet!
For many brands, being at a trade show is the best way to be seen by their ideal retailer.
Sounds great, sign me up!
Although there are three very good reasons to attend a trade show, there are some equally valid reasons why you shouldn't attend.
If you are just starting out, have not figured out how to produce your goods to very high quality standards on a consistent basis, are not clear with your marketing and are not set up to produce your products in volume, you are not ready to attend a trade show.
They are very expensive - and despite what their sales people will tell you (and they are VERY persuasive!) not everyone will make their money back.
I also recommend never signing up for a trade show unless you have attended it as a visitor first. This can be awkward to do because many of them are only held on an annual basis, but it is far better to wait a year to attend the right show than to pay to be at a show, that in hindsight, wasn't the right fit for you and your brand.
Want to know more?
If you are ready to find out more about trade shows, sign up here for the online workshop that will tell you:
- The five things you need to do before you attend a trade show
- How to stand out
- What to bring, wear and say!
- How to follow up for success
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