Tips for Vendors at the Made in New England Expo
For a Successful Made In New England Show
• Carefully consider price. Certainly the whole point of your being at the show is to make a profit. However, make sure your price is reasonable enough to be perceived as valuable for show-goers. After all, you are competing for their dollars with other vendors. Consider any sales you may want to do during the show.
• Design your booth with care! One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is a lack of clear messaging in their booths or poor product placement within their booth, which results in people walking by without knowing what the company does or sells. Booths that are attractive and well planned get the most foot traffic. If a booth seems to be overstuffed with product and people cannot easily view it or peruse products, they will likely pass you by for the next vendor.
• While you don't have to sample, it does help sell your product. Samples don't have to be big, just enough to give visitors a taste or idea of what the product is and entice them to buy.
• Get the word out and promote your presence at the show. While Events NH works overtime to make sure the Made in New England show is well advertised and brings in thousands of potential customers during the course of the weekend, it never hurts if vendors also do their part to promote the show. The show is not only an opportunity to reach out to new customers, but to also strengthen your relationship with existing customers. Send free tickets to your existing customers and highlight your latest product or service. Promotions can include personal invitations, direct mail, telemarketing, press releases or e-mail and broadcast faxes prior to the show.
• Make sure to complete all pre-show documentation and arrangements. A retail show can be stressful enough for vendors without having to worry about administrative hiccups on the day of the show. Before the show, make sure all required pre-payments and deposits have been made to avoid hassles during set up. Also make sure you have ordered any tables, chairs, electricity or phones lines you will need prior to the show to ensure your move in goes smoothly.
• Factor in your personnel needs. Make sure you have enough people to help you move your displays and products on the first and last day. Make sure you have enough people on staff during the course of the show so they can be rotated in and out of the booth for breaks to keep them fresh, professional and smiling.
• Consider ways to build a mailing list. You will have access to thousands of potential customers during the show. Plan for an effective way to add those customers to your mailing list. Remember, it is a crowded show and you will have limited space. Plan ways to add to your mailing list while keeping traffic flowing to your booth.
• Make sure you have enough promotional material! While most customers attending the show are there to buy on the spot, others may want product information or contact information to make a purchase at a later date. With thousands of people coming through the show, there is great potential to make further sales down the line. Customers who buy your product at the show may want a catalog of your entire line, order forms to buy more products or a business card to contact you at a later date. Make sure you have enough of those materials on hand.
• You never know where the next big deal will come from. Many buyers attend the expo, and many wholesalers choose to come incognito. While the days can be long, it's important to treat every customer as if they could be the next wholesale deal.
• Network with your fellow vendors. They could be potential customers as well. You never know what synergies may exist. That hotel in the next aisle may want to serve your jam to its guests at breakfast. The restaurant next to your woodworking booth may be renovating and would love to include your products in the redesign. The manufacturer at the end of the hall may have a need for your product or vice versa.
• Learn From Your Customers. The show is a valuable learning tool. While you may not have time to interact at length with customers during a busy show, listen to their comments. It could help you improve your next show experience or even your product line!
• Be friendly and engaging! While working a show can be physically tiring, make sure booth staff are on their feet and ready to engage people. Have an "elevator speech" ready as you have only a few seconds at a show to capture people's attention. Make sure staff know in advance what to say about your product or service in a concise, clear statement. Please follow proper booth etiquette. Always face the audience and act friendly. Do not turn your back to have private conversations with colleagues or to talk on your cell phone as that can dissuade customers from approaching your booth.
• Post-show planning is important too. Remember, the show does not end until 5 p.m. on Sunday. It is important that vendors do not break down early, as there are still large crowds there who want to buy from you! Once it is time to leave, it pays to make sure equipment is being packed correctly and returned to the appropriate facility. The most important job after the show is to follow up on sales leads. Be sure to set up a process for following up with leads and define steps to convert leads into sales prospects. Explore whether there is an effective way to contact prospects, through e-mail or direct mail, to bolster customers' impressions of your company.
• Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Yes, the show can be a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun. Your fellow vendors are great people and a wonderful support system during the show. Customers will have fun if they know you're having fun too.