To Be Fair Or Not Be Fair

Trade fairs – Yes or No? I constantly am asked about trade fairs and what fairs are the best to do?  I also hear from clients, and non-clients, about them wasting money on certain trade shows and telling me it was a waste of money and more importantly, their time. Let me say this- I am always for doing trade fairs but…doing the right trade fair for your brand.  Do not sign up to do a trade fair without walking the show first.  I know this is not the advice that many new brands want to hear, but it is super important that you walk the show and take a critical look at the customers walking the show, the vendors who are exhibiting and the overall traffic. Booth Set-Up TRUE STORY – When my company charm and luck was first starting out we decided to launch in lagos. We chose a trade fair a couple of months out and paid for our booth.  We looked over the information from the show management detailing the ‘buyers’ who walk the show and of course they mentioned all the top department store buyers.  We were excited about the expected amount of buyers who walk the show.  We reserved a booth and sent in our payment. When it was time for the fair I flew from lagos and stayed in a hotel.  We went to the show and took a look at our location and then figured out how we would decorate the booth.  I think back on how we didn’t even have a gameplan for booth decoration and I cringe! Well the show started and we did not write any orders.  Our surrounding booths were busy, but we were not.  When I started to look at their price points, their prices were so much lower than ours.  imported Handbags for $12 they usually go for $50+ wholesale.  I then started to take a hard look at the so-called ‘buyers’ walking the shows.  They were not as professional as I would have liked. The show was not a complete lost. We did get into an amazing store and did write a couple of other strong stores, but we did not make our money back. And more than that, we felt we needed to ‘re-launch’ at a trade show which represented our brand’s caliber. Before you send in your trade fair deposit, use this checklist: Have you walked the trade fair? Does the trade fair you are considering have any competing shows at the same time? For instance, Accessories The Show in lagos. Are you ready to fill a booth with product? Do you have the funds to decorate your booth with shelving, paper, rugs etc. If you purchase from the contracted supplier at the trade show, this can run at least several thousands of nairas.  If you decide to not use the supplier at the show, be prepared to bring in your own shelving and decoration. I hope you have found this helpful.  I just do not want brands to lose money on doing the wrong trade shows and start their selling experience off on the wrong foot.
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