Trade show season is in full bloom here at Nashville Wraps. We just returned from successful shows at the Summer Fancy Food Show and Dallas Gift Market.
With shows in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas and New York around the corner, we compiled some tips with the help of our trade show veterans, Patti, Karen, Tracy and Kathy as well as my own for getting the most out of market as a small business owner.
Before the Show
Establish Goals – Why are you attending? Is it for new products and trends, opportunities to meet suppliers and network with others in the retail business, and/or to attend seminars?
Make a Budget – It’s easy to overspend if you’re not careful because there are so many wonderful things available at market.
Pre-Register – This saves valuable time!
Hotel Discount – The trade show website should have a housing discount, be sure to take advantage of this. Book early!
Prioritize Your Vendor List – Plan which vendors you want to visit for sure. Also, plan to visit at least one new vendor each show and check out their website before you go.
Take Inventory – Have a list prepared for ordering to help the sales staff.
What to Bring
Show ID – Take your ID with you and any documents needed to pick up your badge. Check the show’s website for details on what credentials to bring.
Resale Certificate – New customers should bring a copy of their resale certificate with sales tax number with them if they plan on not paying sales tax. Most of the shows will require this except for the New York and Las Vegas shows.
Creditor List – Experienced buyers carry a credit reference sheet that includes store name, address, bank info and three credit references.
Business Cards – Give these to sales reps if you want information sent to you.
Note Pad, Calculator & Pen – Be ready to take notes.
Small Bag or Rolling Briefcase – This is great for keeping track of orders. Nothing too big, as it can be hard to take a large bag through a crowd.
Suitcase with Room to Spare – Be sure to leave some room in your suitcase for samples and literature picked up at the show.
Comfortable Shoes – This is not the time for heels, ladies!
Friend or Co-Worker – If it is your first time at a show, go with a friend. Getting lost is so much better if there are two of you!
Day of the Show
Use the Show Guides – If you’re attending a large venue with multiple buildings, work a section at a time. It’s very stressful to run helter-skelter all over a huge complex. Use your show directory and plan your route to the booths you want to see. Some shows have mobile apps and good info on their Facebook or Twitter sites.
Don’t be Discouraged – If you’re visiting a booth with a large crowd, something exciting must be happening. Be patient; it will be your turn soon.
Take a Break – You will be more energized and less stressed if you are not tired and hungry!
Leave Your Order – You can leave your list and have the company fax your order later. Some customers leave the list and come back later to save time. Be sure to ask about show specials.
Have Fun! – Visit the Cash and Carry section and get some deals for yourself and your customers. Go to the concerts and parties offered by the shows. Meet some new friends and relax with the old ones.
We hope to see you at market! Please share your tips with us below. For market links, see our upcoming Trade Show Schedule.