In no particular order, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1. Take time to plan
I knew about the GAMOS ‘18 show in Limassol about 6 months in advance, but honestly, did not expect the amount of work it took until 2-3 months before the show. I started planning when I was warned by others in retail industry and read blog posts from other beginners. For the sake of your sanity, give yourself enough time to process and plan accordingly.
2. Do your research
I am glad to have done a bit of research on the show. For example, who else was exhibiting, how many vendors, what happened last year, etc. This is essential in order to confirm the audience of such an event, the expected attendance, and the duration of the event. We also (happily) found out that Your Big Day was the only wedding stationery booth to present at the event. The organisers will only be able to prep you for the basics – anything extra should be up to you and your team to find out.
3. Make sure the expo is relevant to you.
This is very important, as doing so means you’re more likely to reach people who care about your product. Since most of my products are for engaged couples and newlyweds, I knew that an expo like GAMOS ‘18 would be a great fit.
4. Make your best guess when it comes to inventory
It’s hard to predict the exact attendance of any show, especially when it is your first time exhibiting. We saw a lot more traffic on the first day of the show, compared to the second – even though we all expected Sundays to be busier. So we ended up preparing more flyers than needed but in hindsight, it didn’t hurt that we were prepared to show. Although you will get better with experience in this area, it’s best to make your best educated guess when you’re starting out.
5. Make your booth stand out
This is the fun part! Create a one of a kind booth that displays your work and products in an attention-grabbing way. I find display shelves or things like ladders are great for placing your products on different eye levels so people can see everything. When you’re specialising in custom products where the prices depend on many variables, it can be hard to label products with prices. And since many people browse and don’t like to ask too many questions, I prepared a price catalogue in advance to give them all the information they need to know or may be wondering! Have fun building and coming up with a fun display. We tried to decorate our booth with one thing in mind: if our online store were brick and mortar, what would it look like?
7. Make sure you show items from multiple price points
This is important if you want to cater to different clients and budgets. In my case, exhibiting in a country like Cyprus, where the norm is handing out invites to 1,000 people (!), I made sure I had a mix of cost-effective designs as well as premium designs. It’s all about making an impression at these events, so it’s important to show your business understands the needs of their clients, including financial ones.
8. Prepare flyers and other giveaways
We prepared some image-heavy flyers in both English and Greek. It was a great way to engage with them at first and make eye contact, in order to then encourage them to enter the booth. I also laid out a number of thank you cards and set an assortment of chocolates on the front table, which could be given to visitors who spent time inside our both. I prepared extra samples of our newest 2018 collections in advance and handed them to potential clients who had made detailed enquiries. In this way, we tried to capitalise on those who had shown a real interest.
9. Get signups for your mailing list
We had a couple follow up forms and asked visitors to add their email and contact details. This is a great opportunity to share updates about your business through your newsletter/marketing campaigns and get leads that are likely to convert. As they’ve been able to put a face and personality with the brand touch and feel your products, this makes them a great lead to have in your mailing list.
10. Network with other vendors
Trade shows are a great opportunity to also connect with others in your industry. You can get insider information and even meet people who want to collaborate with you. For our booth’s furniture, I contacted with a local floral stylist who had styled my wedding, and was happy to lend us the items for free. This was a great opportunity to reconnect with other businesses in the industry and boost each other’s word-of-mouth referrals. Just don’t forget to thank vendors who helped you throughout this process and make sure you have those business cards ready!
What’s your experience with trade shows/craft fairs? What have you learned from them? Share in the comments section!