Tips : How to prepare for a trade show

by - 8:38 PM

Are you getting ready for the first time for a tradeshow?
I remember  how stressful setting up my first room at who's next ! it is a big deal !!

To get the most from attending a trade show, you need to be really well prepared! my advice if you are a fresh designer,don't invest in a tradeshow, sell on your own, make a little place on the market before attending any event, tradeshows are a lot of hustle, money investment! and buyers look to connect with brands that have already some bestselling items! Here some  tips  from what I learned from my first experience !

- Before the exhibition

If you have a chance to visit any trade show, do it !!  upload the trade show promotional documents read it carefully. Choose the best companies profile that inspires you and consider sending emails to them or calling to take appointment on the exhibition.
- Visit all exhibitors you choose ask question, note what other clients ask,Take their promotional flyers, lookbook or anything can helps to understand what you need to have on your desk .
- Once you've decided  to  attend a trade show ,Book your room well in advance that will allow you discounted rates. You should think carefully which exhibition to choose, so you  fit in and get better response! ( for example who’ next is for ready to wear  and Tranoi is for handmade products, premiere class for accessories ... )

-You  should be well prepared  to be a multitask person from attendee to exhibitor!  
A trade show must be prepared at least 6 to 12 months in advance to design your collection and prepare a budget !
3 moths before your event you need to prepare your press kit marketing materials.
6 to 8 weeks out you need to book your arrivals before the date  2 days at least  to be ready for set up ! your participation must be confirmed ...
you need to release your presskit ,check your products samples and your display materials. 2 to 3 weeks out you must start to send mails to your clients, to vip, and buyers ...
1 week out everything must be ready: your garments samples, your brand identity materials...

and Here is The hard thing and most important step to do before a trade show:

Find buyers to contact :

Connecting with the buyers is the ultimate goal for both your brand marketing and sales,
To find buyers :
-You can invest and  buy lists online prices are between  50,400 £/ list   and even more !!
- You can contact stores pr managers,online shops retailers ask for their  buyers contact ,or try to connect via LinkedIn : Lafayette,le printemps,Isetan …it will take time but it works !! 
Why  you should contact them in advance if they will attend the exhibition ?
Because time is money !!! Walking a trade show can be an exhausting exercise!!! most of the buyers  have no time to waste on the ground they have many clients they already know, they come prepared with their list and map to visit , Even their clients make appointment months before to be sure to connect and save everyybody's time!!

Branding identity :

It's very important, I still work on that too, you need to create a design that fit the image of your brand! a brand is not only garments, it's the quality of your work,it's the pictures, the spirit of your photos, the models the chosen fonts,logo...

Prepare your  Lookbook

- Once you have your buyers list you should send a lookbook  or prelookbook, a product simple if you have enough budget for that  or at least a “save a date card”  by mail  if you are a fresh designer and your collection is not ready yet! Which happens all the time !
- Send your documents to all of them ! and be sure to personalize your messages as much as  possible,many buyers reacts by feeling,  they need something reel, if they don’t like your mail, they will not answer, you should make a great impression! call followup, insist, many have a tight agenda  as well  and have to answer their clients first, so  a 3rd, 4th message  will get probably their attention  …
- Also, some buyers don’t like to carry around a big lookbook, so think of making thin printed books to bring and make sure to prepare plenty of well designed cards,with your best item and with some lines about the spirit of your brand , contact ... in a postcard format


Prepare your line sheets and wholesale documents.

You might know it's not the same thing as a lookbook!
- A lookbook is about the collection, the artistic details, it's more about "feeling " the details
a line sheet is more about the"facts" commercial details: minimum orders, delivery dates,cut off dates,prices...
- You will need all your images on a white background, very clean, if you don't have good photos,a clean  technical sketch will be a better choice than bad quality pictures !

Buyers are not artists at least most of them! you should understand their mentality and try to connect with them! Prepare a list with your products your brand's name,contact, adress, dates, prices not only on  local  currency and euro but also dollars! you need to have every detail ready before arriving !

ex details with each item's photo :

Id :item ref 
self : fabric details
color :available colors
wsp (whole sale price): $ /£ / Dhs
Srp (suggested retail price ): $ /£ / Dhs


Prepare your press kit

Social media are so important!! I don’t really like to use it personally,
it become so exhausting for me to share all the time but it is the only way to connect your brand with your community, they need to follow your news to remember you all the time and understand your value !
Your collection is ready and packed?  be sure to bring in your luggage  :

- Plenty of business cards, a lookbook to show or to give,
- An agenda and a list to add : contacts ,names or any note
- A comfortable outfit and a pair of walking shoes
- A steamer if you have clothes collection,it’s available on the site but you might be on a waiting list, it will be a waste of time !
- A tote bag to collect materials, in who’s next you can collect them in the entrance (Even if you are an exhibitor you need to connect with others, there is many of workshop around the event !

At the event

Don't forget  your badge, your passport or identity card to have access to the event!

- Take a map to find easily your room

- Be social smile and meet people’s eyes, be confident about yourself and your product !
time to hand out your  business cards you've brought along but don’t grab every brochure you are giving, it will be very heavy later on and you will maybe not find a good place in your room, instead ask to send an email, i had to take so many interesting books however it didn’t fit on my luggage !
-you might meet all kind of people from fashion students to designers or suppliers,to buyers...and others just  copy, you must know when to show all your cards !!

- keep your eyes open for networking opportunities:
Industry leaders haunt trade shows, your time will be only enough to send emails to the people you'll meet, the trade is usually for some days only, so you need to follow up by email after every meeting, in case  the buyers decide to return the day after, they can have already an idea about your package,and discuss further details .

ex questions buyers asked me  :

How much products you make?
how much  you can export?
how much you sell a product piece and how much discount you give to x quantity ?
Which item you sell most ?
your best item ?
Where do you sell ?
Minimum orders you make ? maximum?
Cost of shipping from morocco ?

-Take a break whenever  you need ! you 'll need energy to talk all the day and negotiate !!! my advice is to take a good rest before your arrival a week before, your image is your brand !!
- Back up your presence through social media.

After the show

- Be sure to follow up with new contacts
Having a clear plan will make sure that the time you spent at the event a worthwhile investment !
good luck !

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