7 signs you’re ready to exhibit at a trade show

When you’re trying to grow your wholesale business, there’s no better way to get your product in the hands of buyers than participating in a Trade Show.  With thousands of buyers and retailers walking the aisles every day you have the opportunity to easily connect with new stores and expand your brand’s reach. Participating in these types of shows are PRICEY (we’re talking thousands of dollars!)  so when you do decide to take the leap, you want to do it right. If you’re planning to participate in 2017 or have it on your biz bucket list for 2018 you’re going to want to check back to the blog frequently because I’m taking the next 2 MONTHS and dedicating them to trade shows! For today's post, I’m starting at the very beginning and sharing 7 signs that show you are ready to exhibit!

exhibit at a trade show

You have enough designs to sell

In order for your booth to draw buyers in you need to make a statement, and that statement is directly related to how much product you have in your booth. While you certainly don’t need to have everything ready and in hand today, you need to be able to wrap your head around how much you’d need to create (and sample, and shoot) to prepare for the show. Finding the balance between bare bones and too cluttered is critical in creating an experience for your buyers that encourages them to stop and have a look.

You can afford to exhibit

Exhibiting is a bit of a double-edged sword. To afford the show you need orders but those orders don't come until you invest in the show. On top of that, there are no guarantees. I’ve heard of companies who have gone borderline bankrupt to participate which I don’t think is necessarily the best move. Doing a trade show is a strain on almost every small business's budget so the more you plan in advance the better position you will find yourself in the end.

Your pricing is ready for wholesale

Selling directly to a customer is going to have a very different pricing structure than selling to a buyer at wholesale. It’s important to spend some time with your numbers to make sure you are in a position to offer your products at wholesale. Every buyer has a different markup structure so knowing your limitations before you commit to an order will save you some embarrassing emails and potential lost profits down the road. Check out my free pricing guide here!

You have a concrete set of goals

Going into a trade show with no firm goals in place isn’t going to get you as far as those who and exhibit with a purpose. Knowing how many accounts you want to open each day, who you want to connect with and how much volume you’d like to write are just a few of the goals you should have in place before you exhibit.

You’ve got a design plan for your booth

As a creative, I’m willing to bet that if you’ve been dreaming about participating in a trade show ideas have also been swirling in your brain about your booth’s design. While the venue usually provides a bare bones package that includes a table, some chairs, and curtain walls the best booths you will see go beyond the basics. While it’s tempting to use what they have because it’s so much more affordable consider the impression you’ll leave when your booth is the only one that didn’t step it up.  This isn’t something you should try and cobble together at the last minute so plan plan plan!

You know the importance of pre-show and post-show marketing plans

While trade shows are awesome at getting thousands of eyes on your products if your strategy is along the lines of “if you build it they will come” you are increasing your risk of being disappointed with your show results. With a pre-show plan, you build some anticipation and generate excitement for your products! What you do post show is equally important (despite how much you just want to take a nap) because having a plan afterward lets you have a little room to breathe while making sure nothing major falls through the cracks.

You’ve committed to the show in advance

Deciding at the 11th hour to participate in a show may put you in a losing position from the onset. Not only does it leave you scrambling for a decent booth location (most of the good spots are probably already taken)  but then everything else starts to feel like a rush job and when you’re left scrambling there tend to be more mistakes. Don’t back yourself into a corner when it isn’t necessary, ain’t nobody got time for that.  

When you do it right, exhibiting at a trade show leaves a lasting impression about your business. It’s a ton of work but the payoff can be huge! Have you committed to participating in a trade show this year? If so, leave me a note in the comments below!