Growing Your Business: Preparing for Trade Shows series

Hello! It’s Avis from Avie Designs again with my series on Preparing for Trade Shows. This is my last post in this series and I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing this with you, I hope you all have found my tips useful.

Today we’re going to talk about what happens when you get back from the show. More likely than not, you will have a stack of business cards, some catalogs and many many opportunities in front of you. Or maybe you don’t.

Rifle Paper Co. at the National Stationery Show by s. treatzone

There are 3 potential outcomes of a show: You were successful beyond your wildest dreams; you had a moderate amount of success; or you had no business, no visitors and terrible feedback. If you fall into the last category, you may honestly want to sit back and re-think your business plan or product. As I mentioned last time, you can learn a lot about what retailers want by listening to them at the show. If everyone that stopped in your booth told you that no one would ever buy your product, they might be right and it might be time for you to shake things up. I’m not advocating giving up, I’m just saying you may be headed in the wrong direction.

If you were successful beyond your wildest dreams, you don’t need my advice, you probably need financing. You’re probably scrambling around figuring out how to deliver on the promises you made. And that is something specific to every business and I can’t really help you there.

If you had some success, some orders, some positive feedback, then this is where I can help you:

1. Review everything that happened: You need to sift through everything that happened so that you can prioritize your next move. There are some things that need to be dealt with immediately and some items that can wait a little while. You can also go ahead and weed out anything that you don’t need to deal with at all. Since you took very detailed notes, sorting through the information will be a breeze.

Mr. Boddington at the National Stationery Show by sadjeans

2. Fulfill orders that were placed at the show: If orders were placed, then you need to move towards filling those orders. Contact whoever you need to contact and get going on those. You also need to contact the stores that placed those orders with any information they need too. Hopefully you gave them an accurate ship date when they placed the order at the show but if something comes up and you cannot deliver as promised, you need to keep them in the loop, you’d be surprised at how patient they can be. But get going on it, you don’t want them to forget about you and your product.

3. Contact everyone else you see potential with: You will meet so many people at a show and not everyone is going to be a good fit for you. Once you have decided what contacts you are interested in pursuing, decide how to contact them. I would suggest a simple email to start. Many people will request information from you, or want you to mail them a catalog so go ahead and email them acknowledging that you are in the process of filling their request. Then you can think about a more elaborate follow up.

This is just like your pre-show advertising, you can spend tons of money, or not, to refresh their memory of you. Since you will probably have many contacts gained from the show that you want to turn into potential sales, this is an important step. You may want to include photos of you at the show to jog their memory, samples of your product, a catalog or other items specific to you and your product.

Gold Teeth Brooklyn at the National Stationery Show by the obsessive imagist

4. Investigate the people that want to do business with you: Not only is there great potential to meet people that will purchase your product at the show, there is also great potential to meet people that will become your vendors or collaborators. You need to do your research on each and every one of them to see if they are a good fit for you. Just because you were all excited at the show when you met them, does not mean they are right for you and your company. Really sit and think about where you think your company is going and where you want it to go before jumping into any relationship from the show.

5. Figure out the lesson from the show: You can really learn from your customers and now is the time to integrate that knowledge. Decide what changes you will or won’t make in your business based on the show feedback and start to implement them.  You may have noticed that only high-end boutiques were stopping and placing orders at the show. How can you further cater to their customer and therefore enhance your sales?

Again, it has been such a pleasure sharing this with you and I hope to be back soon with another series. I better get working on one!

– Avis Wampler, the creative force  behind Avie Designs, writes the column Growing Your Business: Preparing for Trade Shows series. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.

One comment

  1. Dear Jen, Thanks so much for sharing. All the information has been very useful as I took part in my first Trade show this week. And like you said I’ve learnt a lot from all the feedback, customer reactions, orders etc.


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