I am thinking of attending a tradeshow to sell my maternity line (sister show to MAGIC). Do you have any advice for me?
Ready to take it to the next step.
First kudos to you for wanting to take it to the next level! I love seeing designers with the confidence to turn their small business into something BIG!
I do have some advice for you but first I want to be sure you are ready. Have you done the following?
- Made professional samples and have production/material costs in place that leave you at least a 50% of retail profit margin?
- Do you know production minimums and turnaround time?
- Sourced fabric and know minimums required and time it takes to receive the fabric?
- Do you have several styles (not just 1 style in many colors) and a line sheet including photos of your items?
- There is more to selling wholesale but if you have done these things you are ready to prepare for a trade show.
So how do you decide if a trade show is right for you?
RESEARCH! You need to look up to see who else will be a vendor or who has been a vendor in the past. Are they similar to your type of product? Then it may be a good show for you! Don't be afraid to reach out to other designers that have been vendors to ask them about how they did at the show.
ASK! Who will be shopping at this trade show? Don't expect to get a list of business names but the trade show rep should be able to tell you they types of stores that will be there and how many attendees they anticipate.
COST...so if the show costs you $1000 how many orders do you need to write to just break even? Do you have this money to invest and still fill the orders you may take at the show? What will you do if you only get 1 order and it doesn't meet your production minimums? Are you willing to find a seamstress to do a small run and pay more for it. Money matters, so think about these things ahead of time.
If you are still feeling good about things then let's move on to Trade Show Prep.
There will be many things you need to do to have a booth that sells product but here is a short list.
- Do you have professional looking racks and display signs? A card table and target clothing rack will be a turn off at trade show no matter what you have hanging on them. They scream amateur! You will need professional racks, a mannequin or 2 and some nice large signs of your logo and some photos of your product on models to make an impact. I love www.vistaprint.com for their cost effective signs and posters and the quality is very nice. Spend time working on your set up before you go. Don't just wing it.
- You will also need order forms, line sheets, look books (optional), business cards, and any other handouts you want to have.
- Be sure you have a way to collect information from those that stop by your booth so you can follow up if they don't place an order that day. Get their business cards and make notes on the items they seemed most interested in.
- Have you mastered your sales pitch? How will you show your line? What will you show first or last? Will you set up like a small shop so buyers can browse or will you keep it all behind a table to show as you wish? (I recommend the first. An open inviting layout is best.) Have you memorized all the fabrics, colors, and size run each item comes in? Will you run your booth alone or will you hire help? Is your help trained in these areas too so they are confident and informative?
- Sell before you get there! Call boutiques local to the market and introduce your line and invite them to come by your booth at the show. If they aren't going to the show try to set an appointment to visit their shop with samples or at least send them a line sheet.
I wish you the best of luck! If you attend the show please write to tell me all about it!
ALSO BEFORE YOU GO be sure to read this interview I did with the designer of start up brand Hucklebuckles regarding her first experience at a trade show. It's very insightful.
Yours in success,