If you are looking to attend a trade show, today’s post is for you! We had the lovely opportunity to chat with Nicole McIver, a wholesale specialist from Australia, and she has some great tips on how to choose the right trade show.

Last week we talked about getting the price right for wholesale, and with that, we’ve set up the foundation for taking your business to new heights! Now it’s time to get your name out there, and one of the best ways to do that is to attend an industry trade show.  

Going to a trade show is one of the best ways to meet retailers who are there to source for new products to carry. But signing up for a trade show booth is a big commitment.

There’s a huge financial cost that comes with exhibiting at a trade show, so you want to ensure that you're maximizing your opportunities at the trade show. 
Trade show

Before we go into the specifics of how to impress at trade shows, we’ve got a bunch of pre-show preparation tips from McIver:

  • Choosing the right trade show

    Go to the trade shows you’re interested in the season before to get a feel for what will best suit your brand.
    You want to go for the trade show that best suits your brand - the more specific, the better. While you can always search online to see what trade shows sound like they’ll be a great match for your brand, you won’t know what they’re really like unless you’ve actually attended them.

    So once you’ve shortlisted the trade shows you want to participate in, buy a ticket as an attendee, and head down to check it out. When you’re there, don’t concentrate on scoping out the competition. Instead, talk to as many people as you can to get a feel of the trade show and if it’ll be effective in reaching your target market.

  • Count your costs

    It's important you work out the total cost before committing to a stand. Always make sure the amount of money you’re investing is worth the risk.
    Trade shows are expensive. Maybe paying $200 a day for a stand doesn’t sound like it’s that much, but you have to factor in a whole range of other expenses. You’ll need to print catalogues, business cards, take taxis to get you to the expo, transport your products to the expo… and so on. For you to break even, you’ll need to get enough orders at the trade show to cover all these costs.

    And again, that’s why choosing the right trade show is so important. Choosing the right trade show means you’ll be able to reach the right audience, and you’ll be able to increase your chance of selling.

  • Find the right hotel

    Book a hotel that is close by and has a restaurant.
    When you’re looking for a hotel, try to book one that’s near the expo. You’ll have to strike a balance between your budget and the convenience of being able to stroll over to the exhibition hall without the added stress of public transport. You don’t want to be struggling on the subway with stacks of catalogues and order sheets, or risk being late because you’re caught in a traffic jam.

    Also, since you’re going to be on your feet for 12 hours a day, there will be nights you’ll be too exhausted to head out for dinner. And for those nights, you’ll want to have a restaurant in your hotel where you can go straight to bed after having a nice meal.

  • Partnership - Head down with a friend!

    Team up with another brand to share the workload and expense.
    Do you have any contacts within the industry who are also looking to participate in the same show? If you do, drop them a message and see if you can team up, especially if you’re planning to go alone. After all, with another person at the stand, you’ll be able to take breaks whenever necessary, while being able to cut your costs by half.

    If you’re selling accessories, you need not share your stand with an accessory brand; instead, you could share it with a fellow seller who specializes in apparel. That way, your products complement each other instead of being in direct competition and could very well make for a nicer display too!

  • Send invitations to retailers

    Invite stores to attend. While they might already have plans to go, it’s best to put your brand on their radar by sending them an invite as well.
    Are there stores you’re interested in? Send them an invite to check out your brand at the trade show so they’ll be able to see your products and place orders in person. Your invitation also serves as a reminder, since there’s a chance they’ll miss you in an exhibition hall housing hundreds of brands.

    Placing product images of iconic pieces that define your brand in your invitation will help retailers spot your brand. Or better yet, you’ll have caught their interest enough to have them searching for your stand in the exhibition hall.

    If you’re afraid they won't be able to find your booth or that they may not attend the trade show, why not leave a link to your B2B eCommerce store in the invitation? That way, even if they can’t make it to the trade show, they’ll still be able to place an order. And with customized price lists, you can always offer them your trade show rates as an incentive.

Now that we’re all prepared to rock a trade show, do join me next week as I bring you more tips from Nicole McIver… this time on how to stand out from your competition at the trade show.



See More:

McIver's guide to maximizing profit in a wholesale business

6 myths about going wholesale

Offering Preorders: Selling items you don’t have (yet)