Thinking of exhibiting in the wholesale marketplace? Show director Rebecca Mercado of the Buyers Market of American Craft talks about structuring their show to be “new exhibitor friendly” so that artists new to wholesaling can make the most of their trade show experience.
ABI: What opportunities are you offering for new exhibitors?
RM: All new exhibitors have bolded company listings in our show guide. We include a “NEW!” hang tag in their welcome packet. Since most artists who are new to wholesaling have not developed a mailing list, we have a co-operative direct-mail program which offers an affordable way for exhibitors to print and send their postcards to our list of registered and prospective attendees.
Our marketing opportunities for artists always include free options, like our “Meet the Maker” series on Facebook and our extensive Pinterest boards. Exhibitors can order free show brochures and stickers to send to their customers.
ABI: How are these new artists highlighted in the show?
RM: Based on customer feedback, we’ve put an even bigger spotlight on first-time exhibitors at Buyers Market. Our smaller booth option for newcomers is now a feature aisle down the center of the show floor. The aisle will have special signage and a signature carpet color to draw attention to it. We lowered the price per square foot and increased the size of the booth a bit to give everyone a more prominent footprint.
ABI: What advice do you have for artists considering selling wholesale?
RM: My best advice is twofold: (1) create a budget that includes a comprehensive marketing plan (pre-show, at-show and post-show) and (2) have realistic expectations.
Very few artists, even those with outstanding work, hit a home run at their first — or even their third! — show. Think of exhibiting at trade show as a form of hands-on advertising.
It takes multiple, consistent impressions to strike a strong enough chord with a buyer for them to follow through. But over time it sticks. Most artists don’t have the stomach for the long haul. They’re easily disheartened, but what they don’t realize is there are buyers who saw their work and loved it, but couldn’t pick up their line at that moment for any number of reasons: they didn’t budget for it, not enough room on their shelves, a competitor in their zip code already carries something similar, etc. Don’t take business personally. It’s almost never about you or your work. Keep at it!
ABI: What type of support do new artists receive from the show staff?
RM: Exhibitors generally find our staff much more accessible than other event management. We answer emails and return calls promptly. We’re available to bounce ideas off of. We send weekly countdown emails leading up to the show, reminding people of important deadlines for rentals, services and marketing opportunities to make sure they’re saving as much as possible.