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When our long awaited hand puppets and plush toys of Diglot the Dragon arrived January 2012, we thought to ourselves what is the best way we can launch them onto the market to accompany our bilingual children's books....
Then we thought to ourselves, Ah Diglot is a Dragon, who could possibly like a dragon more than the wonderful people of Wales? So we packaged him up with our recently released Welsh / English ABC Picture book and Bilingual story book "Matthew and the Wellington Boots" and took him with us to the Wales Spring Fair 2012.
We had a fantastic welcome by both buyers and other exhibitors alike with everyone remarking on how bright and colourful Diglot was, he even got accused of being a 'poser' after stealing all the limelight and attention of the photographers and press when he and our bilingual book 'Cymraeg English ABC' won the "Best New Product" Award.
We received lots of fantastic advice and tips from the organisers from the Wales Craft Council and the other exhibitors at the show and thought we would share some of them here with you for the benefit of any other small and growing businesses that are looking to exhibit at Trade fairs and move into the trade market in the future.
Ten Top Tips for Exhibiting at a Trade Show
1. Get organised in advance and print out some forms to fill in details about buyers who visit your stand. They wont all be carrying business cards and it can be really hard to read your handwriting on scraps of paper when you get home. Even if you can just get their name, their shop name, and their town name, you can get the rest on a simple google search when you get home! Thank you Sarah Bunton of Siocled Chocolates for this great tip. Feel free to download our 'Buyers I Met' template here to use for yourself.
2. Enter any and all competitions and take advantage of any free press offered by the show organisers. Get your artwork and business description to the organisers early so that you can take advantage of being listed on the show website, and if you have a new product then enter it in a New Product Competition, you don't know until you get there who you are up against and you never know, like us you could WIN!
3. Label Your Trade Prices Clearly. It is the fine art of a good salesman to know when to talk to a prospective buyer and when to let them browse for themselves. You can make things easier for yourself by providing clear trade prices and recommended retail prices on all your items so that customers can browse and think things through themselves. Let them come to you for the questions that can lead to a buying opportunity, and remember always turn a negative into a positive. E.g. if they ask you "how many do I need to buy" (i.e. what is your minimum order) reply with "how many would you like to take".
4. Image is Everything. Plan your stand in advance. Even if it is the smallest stand available you can make an impact by planning the layout of your stand, adding extra colourful touches, getting the right packaging and the right artwork. Layout it out in your office or at home with all your product and think about how you can best say what you do from a distance. Roller Banners are a cost effective medium to grab attention, they don't have to be professionally designed but they do need to be colourful and attention grabbing so don't use them to tell your life story! Visit other tradeshows and look at other exhibitors stands and try to get some ideas from them. You can get a lot of furniture and peripheries cheaper by buying it second hand from the likes of Gumtree and Ebay than hiring it from the venue.
5. Network and Refer. Find out about your co-exhibitors and what they do and you can refer customers from your stand to theirs and vice versa. Don't be pushy with your buyers but if you can help out the other exhibitors by providing a hook about their products to someone who visits your stand then they will do the same for you and everyone can benefit. If you develop a really good relationship with another exhibitor offer to take some of their business cards with you to give to any new customers you meet in the future. Thanks to Robin and Eira at Eryri Welsh Gifts for this great tip and offering to do it for us!
6. Talk to the other exhibitors about how they do things and who their suppliers are. You can save a lot of money by learning from other people's mistakes, from where to get your artwork printed, to who supplies their packaging and what discounts they give to trade customers. Ask the questions and see what you can learn, you never know they may even become your customer, sales agent or supplier! A HUGE thank you to Paul at Pendragon Wales at this point for helping us to make the Diglot Hand Puppets a reality.
7. Follow up! Look up the details of the people you met and send them a letter after the show thanking them for taking the time to talk to you and reminding them of anything of interest that you discussed with them. Go the extra mile and pay for a stamp and send it in the post rather than email, remember this is all about building relationships and developing trust. A lot of the benefits of a trade show come in the 12 months following the show. Thank you to Thomas at S Gregory & Co for this great tip.
8. If you don't ask you don't get! Talk to the other exhibitors at the show and to the show organisers and arrange where possible to either get the full list of visitors to the show or to swap details with other exhibitors about buyers that visited their stands. Thank you to Tina of Celtic Herbal for this great tip.
9. Find out about other shows. Ask the other exhibitors about what shows / exhibitions they go to, and which ones work best for them. You are likely to get a much more honest opinion from another exhibitor than from the salesman trying to sell you space at their event.
10. Write a Press Release or Blog about your visit to the show you never know who might read it and find it useful. Thanks to Sami at Freyaluna for giving us the inspired idea of a photo gallery of Diglot and his trip to wales.
Thank you to all the wonderful buyers and exhibitors we met this week and of course to Philomena and the Wales Craft Council for organising such a great show, we will be sure to be back next year!