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  • Writer's picturemaria5015

Getting ready for your first trade show

Trade shows are a fantastic way of showcasing your product and importantly meeting potential buyers. This is why they cost so much, the footfall is usually high and if you pick the right one, they can transform your business. Here are my top tips for picking the right one!

  • Research alot! Look at what shows are on throughout the year, their locations, footfall, and prices. There are the national ones that attract people from all over the country and local ones that are not as expensive but footfall is obviously lower.

  • Decide if you want to to trade direct to buyers or consumer shows direct to consumers!

At trade shows you won't make money on the day, you get awareness of your product/brand and potential stockists, at consumer shows the idea is to sell on the day.

  • Attend the ones you are interested in as a visitor first, therefore planning is key. If you want to attend a show that is only on once a year, make sure you register and attend the year before you want to exhibit. If you miss it then you may not exhibit for another two years if you really do want to attend first.

Spring Fair Trade show
My show stand set up at Spring Fair, NEC

The benefits of attending: you can spot which location you'd like and pick a second, third and fourth option. Its hard to judge on a floor plan but actually going and seeing which spots have the best pass through trade is important.

Talk to other exhibitors, see how long they have been attending.

Look at stand designs, take photos (ask first), get ideas for samples, giveaways, etc.

An example of shows to look at:

  • Specialty and Fine Food Fair

  • Spring Fair

  • Autumn Fair

  • Farm & Deli Show

  • Lunch

  • BBC Good Food Show

  • Top Drawer

TOP TIP! Look at the venue's 'what's on' guide will show you every trade show in the year and how to get tickets or apply for a stand.

Once you have decided on the show for you, and you have paid your deposit, start making a list of what you need for your stand.

TOP TIP!: Make a list of what you need to achieve in terms of sales or contacts to make it worth your while.

Where to stay:

Book your hotel straight away and choose one that is on site or as close as possible. When I exhibited at the NEC I left it too late to book a room on site. The stand was booked a year in advance, at the time the hotel rooms on site were around £100, when i looked two months before the show they had gone up to about £350, per night! I then made another mistake by booking an was in a bad area and horrifically unclean. I then had to take whatever hotel room i could find and the hotel was 20 minutes away from the NEC. Doesn't sound too bad but when you are leaving in rush hour to get to the venue, 20 minutes can quickly become 40 minutes. It's just not needed when you have a busy intense day ahead of you. Rest is so important and sitting in traffic before and after your day is the last thing you need.

What to Eat:

Take snacks/packed lunch. If the show is busy, you will be lucky to get one loo break let alone have time walking miles to the food venues and queuing up. And you have to eat for energy!

How to take orders:

Decide how you want to take orders. You can pay for the tradeshow organisers' tech tool but I found this too expensive. Some opt for an ipad. I went for traditional order forms. I found it more engaging and an opportunity to talk to the customer while I filled in the form, building a rapport.

TOP TIP!: I took one notebook and a stapler. I stapled the customers business card to the book and added my own notes to that page. Things like 'interested', 'will place order via Faire', 'lady with pink hat' will see and talk to so many people any notes you can add will help you place the customer and what they said to you. I found this the most valuable tip. Everything was in one place and made it so easy after the show for follow ups.

What to take:

Make a list of 'extra' things; plug-in lights in case your space is dimly lit, blu tac, cellotape, scissors, plasters, tissues, wet wipes, bin will be surprised what you will need!

Follow Ups:

Unless someone specifically told me to contact them straight away, I allowed 1-2 weeks after the show to send my first email. Based on your notes, decide on what method of follow-up is best.

TOP TIP!: Take a payment terminal and some stock. Even at trade shows, you will get other exhibitors that will want to buy from you. Don't miss that opportunity!

Do you want more?

I have so many more tips and suppliers I can recommend. I'd love to offer you more. So via my text service, you can ASK ME ANYTHING for one whole month for just £30. It's an unlimited text service where you can message or voicenote me at any time, as many times as you like, with as many questions as you have! I will do my best to help and if I can't I will put you in touch with someone from my network. There is no contract, it's a one off payment. Find out more here.

PLUS get my small business tips document for FREE! A great tool for basic tips and an appendix of all my top contacts including packaging, design, wholesalers etc.

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