We've been invited to attend a fashion tradeshow on November 5th and 6th in Los Angeles called ReveLAtion. It's great to have the honour of someone seeking you out and offering to make room for your brand. It's also a great reminder to make sure that we've got everything we need in proper working order. At this point, we thought up a great win-win for ourselves and our readers by creating a helpful list of pro tips for tradeshows. It's also our own little checklist! :)
The lookbook is so important for expressing the feel or ethos of your brand. Yes, there are many wonderful cosmetic things you can bring with you to make the booth look nice but no one is going to care about the linens and lamps if you haven't got a cracking good lookbook. This is the tool with which you show everyone that your brand is professional and your products divine.
The key to a good lookbook is actually very flexible. Some would say you need lots of white space and a simple and cohesive layout, but really, all that matters is your target market. That one subject will inform how you design everything else. If you've ever seen J-Pop music videos and were to then compare them to American Hip-Hop videos you'll understand very clearly that style is directed at audience and their taste.
So just ask yourself, what do my buyers like? Everything else will then fall into place.
Think of your linesheet as a preacher. Someone who can deliver a message. The best linesheet will hit all your saleable points in a few seconds and display the best product photos. There should be a wholesale and retail price, terms regarding delivery, credit and minimum order quantities. The more incentives you can offer the better, but at the same time, don't be naive. I've seen a lot of 'good' people get product and never pay for it. So I would always recommend holding off on 30 or 60 day terms unless you've got the ability to chase the money and wait out on any delay in payment.
The most reasonable terms, in my opinion, are payment before delivery. If a retailer doesn't like that, then it's up to you to decide whether the potential benefits outweigh the potential con that you could fall in to. No easy choice there.
Please, please, don't show up to a tradeshow just to speak with whomever is going to attend. Make connections beforehand with stores in the area via email or cold call and let them know about the show. Try and generate interest beforehand and encourage the decision makers to attend to see you in person. If you can sweeten the deal with free tickets to the event (at your cost) do so, because sales in bulk don't often come from emails and phone calls - face to face is the key.
Social media (like emailing stores before a show) is also a great part of the prep work. But I wanted to focus on Yik Yak separately for a moment as this is a tool I see potential in. Yik Yak is a social media app that's free to download which allows you to engage in conversations with people in your immediate area. I believe Yik Yak could be utilised then to converse with locals and inform them of the show, incentivise their attendance with special offers for Yakkers only and even work to generate word-of-mouth that can spread to people's friends and families.
For ReveLAtion that'll be the first time we trial Yik Yak and it'll be interesting to see what comes from it. Either way, a great principle to take from this is to always be open to new tools of disseminating information about your brand and your activities. Then it's just a case of figuring out how best to use it.
The three most important things that you can do with social media are as follows:
1) encourage your followers to attend the tradeshow to show their support
2) connect with other brands attending and insinuate yourself into their feed so that their followers can see you and know to visit your booth
3) on the day, incentivise tweets and posts about your brand with a special offer - e.g. $10 off a purchase when you tweet a photo with our product
The first two points are intended to build up a pipeline of interested people before the event. The last example is to leverage the time that you have at the show to get the most impact. If the event is over a weekend you could get people from day one to encourage friends to attend on day two just by getting a Facebook post from them.
The other side of the coin is that attending tradeshows can be very expensive and you may not get anything out of it. So it's best to come prepared with plan b, c, d, e... to make the most of your investment. Getting a 100+ photos on Twitter of different people holding a handbag and tagging our business in the tweet can be just as beneficial as a retailer buying in bulk.
Free coffee. Free donuts. Masseuse for weary travellers. Do you have a friend who can draw caricatures? Bring them along! Some ideas are gimmicks, but others can generate buzz about your booth and encourage people to stay longer. Think about the best club in your city. Does it have a long line out the front? What about the best restaurant? The best booth at the tradeshow is busy, is happening, is on the lips of everyone there. Social proof will also improve your chances when talking to a retailer. So brainstorm some good ideas and make your booth the place to be.
A tradeshow is a great and exciting experience. It's terrifying to think of how you could be burning money on something that won't bear fruit, while it's absolutely intoxicating to think of the connections you could make and deals you could cut. This list is far from comprehensive but hopefully it's been useful to you. If you've got other great ideas yourself comment below as I'd love to hear from you.
If you've found value in this post please share on social media. You've won from the information shared and we can win from further exposure. Nothing better than that!