Trade show season is upon us—and this time of the year is such a busy one, with designers finalizing look books, waiting for samples, and making international travel plans. I’ve put together a check list for trade show novices and pros alike to keep top of mind for the best trade show experience possible.
Before You Go
Really know your stuff....and make sure everyone who will interface with potential customers does too. Every member of your team should be highly familiar with the range, prices, minimum order requirements and last order dates so you can look professional and answer questions without wasting time looking at notes. Remember buyers do not have much time to wait around, they will expect you to be an expert already!
Practice your pitch so that buyers unfamiliar with your label can digest your unique value proposition quickly. Open them up with a question: Are you familiar with OUR BRAND? If the answer is no, deliver your pitch. If the answer is yes, tell them what is new and different this season.
- Consider sending an email invitation to your press list and potential buyers. Be sure to include your booth number and a contact number if they’d like to schedule an appointment.
During the Show
Don’t underestimate the importance of a smile to make people feel welcome. Make sure to be observant of other potential buyers: keep a look book or postcard in your hand so you can slip it to people that stop to look when you are busy with another prospect.
Body language counts—try to stand up and avoid prolonged sitting which can make you seem detached. On that note, bring an extra pair of shoes to change into to avoid fatigue or consider wearing compression socks or stockings for maximum comfort.
- Ask the buyer questions about their business and try to engage with them on a personal level so that they stay long enough to look at your collection. Be sure to pass out your up-to-date business cards liberally and ask for others’ as well. If you have the space, set out a notebook and invite people to sign up to your newsletter.
After the Show
Send a personalized follow-up email to your new trade show contacts, thanking them for their time and interest. Be sure to include a link or attachments to new campaign images and line sheets.
Make phone calls to buyers who place orders to thank them, remind them of looming dates, and answer any questions they may have. Many people are phone-averse, but if you have a little script you can follow and practice beforehand, you’ll feel more confident.
- Update your email lists to reflect new customers, prospects, and press contacts you made during the show and be sure to request to connect with people on LinkedIn. When your request is approved, be sure to send a private message to say thank you.
Playtime Paris, July 2016