With summer over and the weather cooling, comes that time of year again – show time. Both consumer shows and trade or buyer shows will be popping up on your calendars in just a few weeks or months. Preparing for any show takes time, but while both shows benefit your business, each one needs to be prepared for differently.
In a previous article we discussed Trade or Buyer Shows and how to prepare and follow up from them to get the most out of each experience for your business. You attend these shows to not only find the latest products available for your customers, but also to get the best deals you can and reconnect with either suppliers or fellow fishing tackle dealers. These shows are a great networking opportunity along with a great way to find new ideas for your store or business. If you haven’t read the article or wish to brush up on preparing for trade shows, all of our digital articles are always online for you to go back and reference.
Consumer shows are completely different and should be viewed as a great way to not only get your name out to thousands of potential customers, but are also a great way to move product.
Before you begin, get a list of all consumer shows in your area. Some may require overnight stays at hotels or motels. You can find a list of shows in your state as well on our Consumer Show Calendar. If the consumers attend the show and you can justify the cost, consider attending as many shows as you can. Just be sure the costs are offset by the gains.
Contact the show organizer and ask about how many people attend each day, and overall numbers for the last three years. By asking for the total from each of the last three years you will be able to formulate an average number of attendees. Hopefully the numbers have risen each year. If you only ask for last year’s numbers and it was their best year ever, you may get a false sense of actual traffic the show generally sees. If one of the three-year’s numbers are low, ask if there was a reason for the low turnout. Since many of these shows take place in the fall and winter, weather may have been a factor.
What advertising is the show organizer doing for the show, and where will the ads be placed? Can you join in on the advertising to make it more cost-effective for you both, or are there ads the organizer has that you can use to help promote you being an exhibitor at their show? What is the show organizer doing for exhibitors? Are there discounted rates on local lodging, free parking, or discounted food pricing at the show?
If the number of attendees sounds good, and it appears the organizer is concerned about the vendors as much as the attendees, ask for booth space pricing and a map of the show floor. Find out how many other retailers like you will be attending and where their booths will be located. Having a competitor just a few booths away may not be the best way to move product. Inquire if there is any booth space near the entrance of the show. Being located in the last row of the show may also mean seeing the least amount of traffic. Depending on the size of the show, customers may be too tired to walk the entire floor and leave before they get to your booth.
Once you have your space booked, the real work begins. Set a goal for the show now so you can prepare to meet it. If you plan to sell a certain dollar amount of goods at the show, be sure you have twice that amount of product ready to go to the show with you. If you do not, contact your distributors now and see how you can acquire more. Can they ship it directly to the show for you? Do they have any specials you can take part in, or are there opportunities to work with them to do a giveaway at the show? If you plan to grow your social media followers, what will you have in place before the show? Consumer shows are a great way to gather email addresses as well as home addresses for mailings. Make a plan now how you will use the new information you gather after the show to convert these new friends into regular customers.
Who will be working at your store and who will be attending the show? Start working on your schedule now – be sure to also add one or two alternates to each list. Cold and flu season can cause havoc, especially at a consumer show. Have standby employees on call to help out if someone gets sick and is unable to work. Staff the show with your best team. You want workers who can smile no matter how tired they may be from the long hours at the show. If you keep enough staff on hand at the show to ensure everyone gets a break every few hours, it will help them stay cheerful and selling. Have them all wear appropriate attire as well. Comfortable shoes are a must, but also set a dress code for them. Giving them the dress code early enough will allow them time to shop if they need to. If you are providing custom shirts for everyone to wear, get their sizes ahead of time and order a few extras in case someone forgets theirs or they soil it while at the show.
How will your booth be designed? Do you have a sign or different signage to display in your booth? If not, can you get some made in a cost-effective manner in time? Will you be displaying different lines of products, or just one line? Will you be selling items for spring, summer or winter fishing? Will you have special deals just for the show? Selling leftover items at a smaller profit is a great way to not only move inventory, but is also a great way to attract customers to your booth. Just be sure to have a mix of price points. If you are going to accept credit cards at the show, is the show floor capable of allowing this? Ask the show organizer ahead of time, especially if you need a dedicated internet line to process the transactions.
Start promoting your booth number, and that you are attending the show in your advertising and on your social media. Tell people you will be at the show, in booth number X, and they should stop by to see you and take part in whatever giveaway or special you will be having at the show. Consider also having a giveaway or a special deal only available for your social media followers. Not only will this entice them to attend the show, but it will also be a great way for them to meet you and your staff if they haven’t already. While at the show, you can extend this offer by having customers follow you on Facebook or Twitter. There are so many smartphone users now you can almost be assured that most people will have theirs with them and will be happy to follow you if it means a discount. Just try to see that they do follow you, and avoid being scammed.
Another way to create a buzz about your booth is if you are able to have someone locally well known in attendance to answer questions or to sign autographs. This may be harder for some than others, but it is a sure way to get customers into your booth.
Plan now for a day after the show to dedicate to follow-up, not only from your team, but also to follow up on any and all customers that need to be contacted. Ask your team to each name five great experiences from the show, and five poor experiences. Write them all down and see how you can improve upon the poor experiences and generate more great experiences for them and your customers.
Create a breakdown of expenses and gains so you can see how profitable the show really was for you. This should be a running list as customers you met at the show come into your store and shop. Even if you break even financially at the show, having just a few new customers come in and shop regularly should be viewed as a gain.
What shows are you planning to attend this year and how far are you willing to travel to exhibit at a show? What tips can you share with your fellow fishing tackle retailers on exhibiting at consumer shows? Share your thoughts and tips with us all on our Facebook page or in our LinkedIn group. Who knows, you may learn something new yourself.