So, if there is one piece of advice I would give to anyone doing their first trade show, it’s this.... Go to some trade shows first! If you get in touch with a trade show rep and let them know you are thinking about setting up a booth, they will give you a badge so you can walk around and check it out. Then you talk to vendors and ask them about their experience and figure out what areas get the most traffic. We didn't do that... oops! And the first show was a total surprise. We are halfway through our second trade show, and I finally just had that aha moment where I'm like, "yeah, I get it now." It was an expensive way to learn the ropes!
Second piece of advice... buy the buyer list in advance. I know it can be expensive but you have to market before the show. If you rely on walk up traffic, you're taking a big chance. It may be super busy, but it may not. If you buy the list, you can send emails and do targeted Facebook and Instagram ads to your potential buyers before you show up. Then, when those buyers see your booth, they think "oh, I've seen these guys on Instagram. They're soo cool!" (hopefully). Want to hear the case in point? We are at a show now and it's a bit slow. But, the girl next to us Tart by Taylor, has been killing it. And every single person who walks up to her booth starts with, "Oh my gosh. I follow you on Instagram and I love your stuff!" She obviously did a lot of pre-show planning! I’m doing that next time!
Third, keep it simple. Especially if it's busy, you want a simple display and a simple pricing strategy. You don't want to shout a complicated pricing structure over the top of a loud echoey room. I don't think echoey is a word but I just made it one! You don't have to display every product you have. Just focus on your best sellers or whatever you think will sell best in that city. If the buyer likes your stuff, you can always send them more info on the rest of your line. Trade shows are about getting a foot in the door so make that the priority.
Fourth… if you can bring someone with you, do it. It’s a little weird to leave your booth empty but you do have to use the restroom and eat and take a break occasionally. So, if you have someone who can come with you for at least part of the show, do that! Plus, the moral support is nice and you’ll be less nervous (especially for your first show).
Fifth… relax. It’s really not that difficult. Some people will love your stuff, and some won’t. Don’t worry about the ones who don’t. Just move on to the next one.
Share your own trade show successes and bloopers with us in the comments…