how successful fashion brands make money at trade shows
Trade shows can be really lucrative if done well but can also feel very daunting due to the cost & the effort that goes in to make the stand have that ‘wow’ factor!
Don’t panic though, I’ve pulled together everything I know about how successful fashion brands make money at trade shows!
Before booking a stand, go to the event and see who’s there.
You have to be 100% confident with who your customer is.
Are the audience in alignment with your customer profile?
Are people just browsing or are they buying?
Take note of the stands that are busy and analyse why you think that is.
Measure the space and lay it out to scale before you get there
There’s nothing worse than arriving and realising you don’t have as much space as you thought!
You could draw it out but I’d recommend spending a good couple of hours arranging everything in real life to avoid any costly mistakes!
Could you offer branded freebies such as tote bags?
People can use them whilst unknowlingly advertise your stand for you while they’re walking round!
If that’s too costly, perhaps something simple like a pen or a tape measure that people can take home and remember you
Is there a way of making your stand more experiential to stand out from the crowd?
Can you show how your products are made or run mini workshops to get people involved?
You want to be able to demonstrate the value of your product & create a buzz around your stand to draw the buyers in!
Can you share a space with a complimentary brand to split your expenses in half?
Trade shows are really expensive regardless of how big or small your brand is!
For example if you’re selling kids sweatshirts, is there a kids shoe brand who would be interested in sharing the space?
You will have cut your costs in half before you’ve even started!
Do a shout out in some facebook groups / insta or linkedin to drum up some interest
Choose wisely as your brand aesthetic and customer base must be in alignment
If you’re selling minimal Scandi jerseywear, don’t pair up with someone who’s brand consists of loud colourful floral prints
Get friendly with the event organisers
Perhaps ask if you can have a Skype call and ask about how the events have run in the past.
What big names are attending?
How many stand owners are repeat customers? (This is a key question to know if the show has been successful; people won’t return if it wasn’t busy or profitable)
Look under the event’s hashtag
Speak to the other sellers who are attending and ask if they have any tips from going before?
This is a great place to get some inspo for your stand too
Make a Pinterest Board
Search something along the lines of ‘Trade Show Booth Ideas’ and start figuring out the design and layout which will best represent your brand. A lot of stands go for a minimal white box look but beware as this can also look a bit low budget if it isn’t done properly
It is also difficult to make yourself stand out as it is such a popular idea, a lot of the stands end up looking the same!
How can you make yours different?
Think about how to show off your product to its best - do you need to take everything or just a selection of your best bits with a catalogue showing the full collection? I see a lot of stands which are rammed and it is so overwhelming to look at that buyers end up walking by without stopping
AT THE SHOW
Walk around and find out how other stands / sellers are doing.
Ask what’s working for them, what their bestsellers are & other trade shows that they’d recommend
Get people onto your mailing list
With the huge footfall, it’s the perfect place to capture people
Not everyone is a decisive buyer, when do you see something you like and purchase immediately?
Some people might need to see you 2-3 times before buying!
You could run an incentive based competition along the lines of:
‘Sign up and one lucky buyer will win 30% discount on a future order’
How can you make the buyer’s life easier?
How can you remove the friction from the buying process?
Perhaps you can tell her about some positive sales feedback you’ve had which will give her confidence to buy
Or maybe you can offer a low minimum order quantity to trial the brand in store
Know what your bestsellers are because a buyer will ask!
Talk about your products with passion and confidence and know your shit inside out
What are your lead times?
How long will it take to produce and ship to the buyer
Don’t over promise and under deliver, give a realistic date that you know you can stick to
A buyer will be really annoyed if you give an unachievable date and you deliver late
Put cost prices on the back of each product so you don’t get confused when asked
Do you have a sliding scale of costings?
If a buyer bought 100 units, price is x
If a buyer bought 1000 units price is y
If a buyer bought 10,000 units price is z
know the lowest price you can go to without making a loss
Buyers are keen negotiators and like to put you on the spot, make sure you have this number in mind
Don’t be tempted to go under this even for a large order
Hold yourself with confidence
If you don’t believe in your brand then how do you expect other people to? A smile goes a long way to start an engaging conversation with prospective buyers!
Ask an unusual question to make yourself memorable
Share your reason why you started the brand to connect with the buyer on a human level
Is there a story behind the brand that will resonate with other people?
Easy to access contact details
If you are talking to another customer, you want it to be easy for other people to access your business card & brochure with prices
Show off the packaging!
Show how the buyer will receive the products so they can see you have thought of everything!
AFTER THE SHOW
Buyers who placed an order:
If you have a long lead time, perhaps you could send them a handwritten thank you note so they look forward to receiving your order in due course
If you can send products straight away, a hand written note inside the parcel will be appreciated
Buyers who didn’t place an order
If they left a card, follow up with a phone call a week after the event and check in to see if they need anymore information to be able to place an order
So that’s everything! If you have any further questions, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org