Monday, December 3, 2012

Making the Most of Trade Shows & Local Markets

Yes, for the most part trade shows can feel like a lot of work without necessarily a full payback.  However, its up to you to get the most out of it and really help launch you, your product and your business.  Here are a few ideas to make the most of your hours on the floor.

Say hello greet people as they walk by.  Don't overwhelm, just acknowledge.  Offer a tag line with general information.  For example, I usually say, "Hi, all of our products are hand made in Montana from our own alpacas."   Do not get discouraged if they do not make eye contact or just smile and walk away.  Remember how many people are vying for their attention. 

Pay attention-  Do not read a book or be on the phone.  This is an opportunity to meet viable clients / customers.  Be available to them.  If you look bored, they will move on quickly or not even bother to stop.

Think long term -  Just because you have low sales does not mean you have wasted your time.  Be in it for the long run.  Many marking experts claim buyers need to see you advertisements / products seventeen times before they buy.  That is why it is crucial for you to be at these types of shows.  

Dress the part- In Montana, we are quite casual, where blue jeans are the norm even at higher end restaurants.  However, you need to look professional, clean and up to date when your are selling your products.  A logo on a shirt costs $5-10.  Invest a little money and look the part. 

Be informative and enthusiastic.  Like your product and know the ins and outs of your business.  If you talk about alpacas as I do, offer interesting information. They have a great story to tell.  Oftentimes you will be educating people what an alpaca is and what value it offers.  Be prepared for when people say they can get the same thing in Peru for 10 dollars.  While this is true, they are not in Peru.  The US has a higher cost of living, it costs us 42 dollars per pound to make it into yarn, plus the expenses of overhead of not only raising livestock but being at the show.  Additionally, Peruvian garments are not necessarily full alpaca. They can be made from llama and/or guanaco which are not textile animals.  Many also ask the difference between wool and alpaca fibers.  You need to be well versed on the differences of these materials. 

Be user friendly -  If you are selling items be able to process a credit card.  I use Square Up and it works great if you have a Smart phone. You can also use Pay Pal virtual terminal if that works better for you.  This means you need to manually put in the information into your computer when you are home, but it does work well.

Stand out - Do not just put a table in front of your 10 by 10 booth and expect to be outstanding.   Yes, it can be expensive to have displays but it is definitely worth it.  Pictures will do wonders.  Purchase a digital frame and put your farm photos on there.  Use a print shop to make up signs. They should only cost $5 to $10.  At Target you can print a beautiful 8 x 10 picture for $3.89 and put it in a frame.  Be more creative than just a table and a tablecloth.

Listen to your customers -  It is amazing some of the things you will learn about that can be off topic - how their in-laws are coming for dinner, their daughter is pregnant, that their car is broken down.  But everyone is useful in learning things about them as well as yourself.  Enjoy the moment of being educated. Many people have great ideas of what they are looking for.  We have created new products because people have commented that they were looking for this or that.  Listen closely. 

As much as you can, enjoy yourself.  You have invested time and money into being at the trade show and/or market.   Make the most of it for the few hours you are there.