There’s so much that goes into preparing for a trade show, it can be difficult to know where to start. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is having an assortment that isn’t curated. Show up with too little in your booth and you’ll pale in comparison to your neighbors. If you pack your booth full of products you’re running the risk of overwhelming + distracting your buyers. Before you start focusing on developing your catalogs, mailers + designing your booth you need to streamline your product assortment. Today, I’m sharing the steps you can take to curate your products to get trade show ready!

products for trade shows

Decide on the story you want to tell with your products

How many pieces you include in your product line is going to depend on what you are selling. The way a clothing designer prepares for a show is going to look very different from what a stationery designer develops. The key to developing your product line for a trade show is to have enough pieces in your line for a buyer to be able to make a strong presentation on their sales floor.

Understand how buyers buy:

For the most part, buyers shopping your booth will purchase for their store in one of two ways, by item or by collection.

Buyers Shopping By Item:

These buyers will only purchase a specific type of sku. Meaning, their orders could consist solely of note cards or phone cases. Ask yourself, do you have enough print options to support this type of purchase?

Buyers Shopping By Collection:

These buyers will purchase all of one print. If your flamingo print is on a notecard, mug, notepad, wall art, mug, and iPhone case they will pick a few styles in one print that can all sit together on their sales floor.

While most buyers tend to gravitate towards one way of buying over another, in many cases they utilize a combination of the two. They may focus on a collection and supplement it with single styles, like notecards. Or purchase single styles and add one full collection they simply have to have. Play with different scenarios as you curate your assortment and you’ll be prepared for different buying situations!

Ask yourself, is there anything that doesn’t fit?

As a creator,  your mind is constantly turning out new designs and ideas. Of course, you want to get them out into the world ASAP! Once you’ve created your product list pick it apart to see if anything specific stands out to you. Are you starting to incorporate home decor items when you’re a stationery designer but only have one or two designs? Do you primarily design and sell mugs but decided to throw in a notecard here and there?  Take a step back and look at what you’ve added. Does it all make sense? If you’ve added a one off item that stands out to you chances are, it will stand out to your buyer too. (and not necessarily in a good way)

Let’s say you’re a stationery designer with a line of greeting cards and you currently offer 35 designs. How do your card categories break out? Perhaps 15% of your line is Birthday related while only 2% is sympathy. While not every category has to be exactly the same, you don’t want to be too lean or beefy in one category versus another.

No matter how much you prepare, chances are you’ll walk away from the trade show with new or additional clarity to what your customers want to see. As long as you’ve curated your assortment as best you can to find balance between bare bones and completely cluttered you’re setting your business up for success!