Life Instyle trade show and lots of others are just around the corner (few days to be exact....). For all those exhibiting this season.
Here are my top 10 tips to get your brand & stand ready for selling season.
1. Plan, plan, plan. How does your stand look? Mark it out in your home/office and set it up to scale. Until you do this you will not get a clear understanding of scale, walk through space and accessibility to your product. Make it easy for buyers to see your product without having to fully enter your stand. Remove barriers for buyers. A clear view from every angle is crucial.
2. Be prepared. Order specialised items. Hire furniture, build furniture, get that wallpaper printed and design that perspex sign. Order specialised bags. You need to so this at least 6 weeks out.
3. Product. Are all your samples ready? Do you have all the correct information on them? They should all be clearly labelled with codes, wholesale and RRP prices. Don't make it hard for buyers to find out information. They do not like to ask!
4. The stand. Display & VM. What is your look and feel? Is it eye-catching, is your branding strong, have you got attention grabbers displayed to draw in the crowds. Make sure you evolve and change your displays every season, don't do the same same again! Buyers expect new and exciting. Check out previous years imagery to get an understanding of the set up space required.
Stand set up. Try and get there early and set up your stand as soon as possible. This allows for last minute details and finishes like picking up fresh flowers, plants, an extra table or whatever else may be required. Do not leave it til the last minute!
5. Invitations. Current and target customers. Start a target list of buyers/stores you would love to stock your product. Send out invites (soft copy & hard copy) so they are aware of your brand and where you are located at the show. Add (good) imagery where possible.
6. Marketing material. Orders forms, catalogues, postcards, information/line sheets. What does your brand need to get a fuss free order. Not everyone buys on the spot. Do you have information that buyers can take away with them? If you have an expensive 30 page catalogue, can you print a cost effective condensed version for those who are just looking? Buyers want visual reminders of who and what the brand represents so they have triggers to buy later. Order forms need to have prices, minimum quantity, payment details, T&C's and more..
7. Sales staff. Are you the best person for the role? Sales people have unique skills and sometimes the designer or creator is not that person. Will you talk up your brand the way an experienced salesperson will? You may have all the knowledge but not necessarily the skills to sell. This is one of the biggest mistakes we've seen in our many years of trade shows. A great looking stand with the wrong salesperson spells disaster. Have you accounted for breaks, lunch, peak periods? And be sure to wear your product or have a cohesive 'uniform' that represents your brand DNA.
8. Data collection. How do you keep track of leads? What is your follow up approach? Make sure you have a system in place to capture leads or buyer details. And be sure to follow up!
9. Minimum order and Deposits. How do customers order your product? Do you have a minimum value order? Is it a total unit volume? Or per style/per size? Make sure you have considered this as it is a strong sales tool. Keep it simple. Be sure to list the minimum on order forms. In regards to deposits for orders. It is a tough one. Unless you are in high demand or a custom made item (eg. expensive jewellery) I don't think you can expect to get one. Make sure you get customer to sign your terms and conditions on placing an order though.
10. Are you ready?. Trade shows can run over 3-4 days (plus set up and pack down) and you need to be fit and ready to handle it. Wear your most comfortable shoes, take water and snacks in case you cannot leave the stand (because you're so busy writing orders hopefully!!), have a space for a quick sit down or rest (do not sit down on your stand if you can avoid it though!). Be sure to check the opening and closing times for each day in advance and be ready to rock!
Most importantly have fun. Network, meet fellow exhibitors, talk to visitors and remember not every buyer/store is the right fit for your product. Don't be offended or worried if people walk right past. The best buyers do not always buy on the spot, trade shows are about brand awareness as well as orders. By being there you make your product accessible to buyers on their terms.
I also run full day & half day consults with many brands to get them Wholesale ready. Let me know if you need help with pricing strategy, margins, refining your range, sales strategies, VM and more.