So you’re ready to begin wholesaling your handmade products, and you’ve been accepted to a trade show where you can meet the buyers and start writing orders.
Let’s review some basics to help you have a successful first show:
Aside from meeting you in person, buyers will be visiting your website to get to know you better and see what you have to offer. This is your home base, so you need to create a website before your show that is credible and professional. Is your current work shown, with professional photographs? Does your About page tell your story succinctly, and include your photo? Is your contact information on every page? If you have a blog, is it up to date?
With an important trade show coming up, you need to get out the word and draw people in. Submit excellent photos and press releases to news outlets and blogs. Create advertisements for trade journals and the show guide that will drive traffic to your booth. Make an effective press kit to take with you to the show itself (most exhibitors don’t prepare press kits, but if you do, it can give you an opportunity to stand out.)
Do your Pre-Show Marketing
Do you have postcards and invitations ready to send to prospective new accounts? Use email newsletters and social media as well to let all your contacts know about your upcoming show. The show promoter may provide stickers with the show dates that you can include in shipments and mailings, and they may also have a mailing to attendees that you can participate in.
Build a Booth that Works
Even if you’re flying to the show and want to keep your booth lightweight, you can use exciting banners and large format photos that draw the eye. Check this article for ideas on how to create an impressive booth inexpensively. Then, make sure your booth is merchandised correctly. A wholesale booth is very different than a retail show booth. Highlight each item in your line by giving it enough space and group your collections to be pleasing to the eye. Then, make sure your lighting is sufficient and makes your booth look inviting to all.
- Do you have a plan to maximize your booth experience and close sales on the show floor?
- Have your brochures, line sheets and business cards ready.
- Using sales aids, such as running a video in your booth, presenting a slide show on your iPad, and giving away promotional items can be helpful.
- Do you have a plan for show specials such as free shipping or show-only discounts, and grouping work as a suggested opening order?
- Have you thought about cross-selling other items to your buyers, and how you will make your sales presentation?
- If applicable, do you make display fixtures available to customers? This is a great way to get a significant opening order.
- Create goals for the show, and use a calendar to schedule order shipments so that you have enough turnaround time.
Meeting buyers at the show is just the beginning. It’s a launching pad to landing new accounts and orders afterwards. That means you must plan follow-up calls, emails and mailings to interested prospects you meet at the show. The average sale is closed after five contacts with the prospect. Make a plan to take advantage of sales opportunities long after your wholesale trade show.