One of the best ways to grow your wholesale business is by exhibiting at trade shows. There are so many to choose from, with some only showcasing certain product categories, such as fashion or health and beauty, so this way vendors have a better chance of reaching interested buyers. Trade shows are great places to build brand awareness and create long-lasting business relationships.
While these events offer tremendous opportunities for wholesale suppliers, they can also take up a lot of your time, effort, and money, so it is important to make the most out of your experience. Here are six tips on how to effectively exhibit at trade shows and get the most bang for your buck:
- Choose a Show
- Set Specific Goals
- Come Fully Prepared
- Plan Your Marketing Strategies
- Make Your Booth Stand Out
- Follow Up with Clients
1. Choose a Show
The first step every wholesaler needs to take, no matter how much experience you have, is to choose the right trade show at which to exhibit. There are so many things to consider when choosing a venu, such as the time of the year, the category of products that will be featured by other vendors, how much it costs to rent a booth, and location.
- The time of year a trade show takes place
has a bigger impact than you think. You need to factor in when you will be gone and who can help run your business while you are participating at the trade show, since that will take up a lot of your time. The time of year also impacts the types of products you will be showcasing. For example, if the event is taking place over the summer, then retailers are going to be shopping for holiday merchandise. Figure out what sellers are looking to purchase to offer their customers, and put those items front and center.
- The types of products that will be showcased by other vendors
also has a huge impact on deciding which trade show to attend. For example, some shows may be all about fashion, so if you do not sell any fashion merchandise, you will want to find one that boasts vendors selling in every category. Most trade event websites include a list of vendors that will be at their next show, so if it is not clear on their website what types of exhibitors they are looking for, scan the list to see who will be at the event.
- Depending on how much it costs to exhibit at a trade show,
it could be a deal breaker. As enticing as it sounds to set up a booth at a popular and well-known trade event, you also have to factor in travel costs, a hotel, food, and other expenses that come with exhibiting. Especially when just starting your wholesale business, it is best to begin exhibiting at smaller trade shows to get your feet wet, build brand awareness, and move up from there.
- Location, location, location.
This is everything when looking for a trade show to exhibit at. While a location such as Las Vegas may be too expensive to go to for your first time, try another popular area such as Florida that may be a little cheaper for both travel and exhibiting expenses. You can also check your surrounding area for any events that may be coming around. When just beginning, it is super important to start small and then work your way up to the bigger trade shows once you have more of a following and regular customers.
2. Set Specific Goals
Instead of just telling yourself the goal for attending a trade show is to meet new customers and sell your products, you should be setting specific and measurable goals. This can not only help grow your business, but it can also give you something more concrete to compare other trade experiences with. Set goals such as getting 25 or more orders per day, or generate 40 or more qualified leads per day. Keep track of these goals and see how your business grows over time the more trade shows you attend.
3. Come Fully Prepared
Planning makes all the difference between a successful show and one that fails to meet targets and fly within budgets. Since many other wholesalers and retailers will be planning to attend the same event, often hotel rooms and flights can sell out, so be sure to plan these logistical decisions well in advance.
- Set a budget.
Between all of the expenses involved with exhibiting at a trade show, it is important to set a budget beforehand so you do not go overboard. Some events offer complimentary breakfast and/or lunch for exhibitors, so be sure to check the show’s website to see if they do. If they do, that means you have more budget for marketing or providing free samples for buyers to try.
- Study the list of exhibitors, speakers, and breakout sessions.
As mentioned before, this can help you to see the types of products that will be featured at the show, but it can also help you determine who you would like to connect with and contact them in advance via email or social media to set up a meeting. Building up professional relationships is a must in order to have a successful wholesale business.
- Mark down important deadlines.
This can be anything from the final date to submit your exhibitor application to certain marketing materials you need to have together for the show. If you already have a decent amount of customers, begin marketing several months before the show to let retailers know where you will be and any new product features they can expect.
- Pack everything you may need.
Packing for your trade show should not be an afterthought, or something that is done a few days prior to the show. As you study the list of exhibitors, speakers, and breakout sessions, this can help you determine what you may need to bring to the event with you, such a
- Press release handouts on new product or service launches
- Displays and promotional signage for tables, till points, or shelving units
- Marketing packs for prospective leads
- Itinerary of events and a list of useful contacts
- Power strip and extension cords
4. Plan Your Marketing Strategies
When you figure out your deadlines, start planning your marketing strategies so you can let your customers and followers know that you will be at the show. Use social media and email lists to raise awareness before the event to be able to generate a good amount of traffic to your booth. This way, you are not solely relying on passers-by to visit your area and make a purchase. Some trade shows also have their own promotional teams, so reach out to them and see what you can do to maximize business exposure.
According to the Federal Business Council, 76 percent of attendees arrive at trade shows with an agenda of exhibitors they plan to visit, so use marketing to ensure that you are one of the vendors on their list. Incentives such as exclusive offers for show guests and running competitions to encourage great footfall to your booth should be mentioned, as well as your booth location. This is a great time to introduce a new product or service, so get retailers excited to come see you with the promise of learning about something new.
5. Make Your Booth Stand Out
You are going to be competing with hundreds of other exhibitors at the trade show, meaning you need to put a lot of thought into building an exciting booth that will make passers-by want to stop and check it out.
- Use free samples or products to draw attention.
Everyone loves free items, so promoting samples or a free product with a purchase is a great way to attract buyers to your booth. You can also offer finger foods, snacks, bottles of water, or pens and pencils.
- Offer a charging station.
It never fails — with how much we all use our phones or smart tablets, they usually need a good charge about halfway through the day. This creates a great opportunity for you to set up a wireless charging station or USB charging ports at your booth for attendees to charge their devices. While they are waiting for a battery boost, keep them entertained with fun activities and conversation to build a relationship.
- Utilize eye-catching signage and decorations.
Lighting, audio, video, colorful signs, banners, and posters are all great ways to attract attention and boost your professional image. Even if you are decorating on a low budget, you can create your own posters or utilize decorations you already have at home. Anything is better than a plain booth with just your merchandise to show off.
6. Follow Up with Clients
It is super important to follow up with attendees you connected with after the trade show. Even if they did not purchase anything, you can prioritize leads by how interested they were in your merchandise. It is also worth following up with cold leads, as they still offer an opportunity to make meaningful connections and send them special product offers. Be ambitious, but not pushy, and be sure to connect on social media accounts.
There is a lot of work that goes into exhibiting at trade shows, and hopefully these tips can help make your first few events that much easier. Never miss an opportunity to grow your business.