Episode 071: Show Notes
Today on the podcast, we welcome back Katie Hunt of Trade Show Bootcamp. Katie is our very first second-time guest! We met Katie last summer at the Savvy Experience and have been friends ever since. Katie has this depth of knowledge about an entirely different world of wholesale and the stationery industry that we are just not privy to, and she is not holding back! In fact, she doesn’t hold back, ever.
She gives so much insight in this episode; we are talking all about saving for trade shows, how to budget for them so that there are no surprise costs, and the pros and cons of going to a national show versus a smaller local show. We also dive into how to balance retail and wholesale, and how to nurture those relationships after you snag some wholesale clients. We even go into more on how to add value, how to get your customers ordering more, and how to bring them on like they are family and VIPs. There are a lot of ideas in this episode and a lot of action steps, so we can’t wait for you to dive in!
The Four Buckets of Saving Up for a Trade Show
When it comes to budgeting for a trade show, Katie recommends breaking the costs up into four separate buckets; your sales tools, the marketing budget, your trade show booth, and travel and lodging. Your sales tools are going to include catalogues, sales forms, and any materials you use to actually make the sale. Next, you have to consider your marketing budget, which includes giveaways and pre-mailers, as well as post-mailers. The biggest part of your budget is your trade show booth. You are not only going to be paying for your booth space and your home at the show, but outfitting it to match your brand as well. Finally, the last bucket is travel and lodging. You need to think about how you are getting there, where you are staying, taxi rides to and from the show, and eating out.
Determining the Right Size Trade Show For Your Business
There are definitely pros and cons when it comes to investing in either the larger wholesale shows or a more localized show. Going local makes it so much easier from a logistical standpoint of building out your booth and bringing your product. Local shows can be fantastic in getting your feet wet, getting feedback from the buyers, practicing your pitch, and getting a feel for setting up your very own booth. There is also usually less risk, and less cost involved with a local show. However, you always have to weigh the costs. Regionally, you need to think about where your products fit into the market, and a local show may just not be the right place for your product. You have to look at your statistics, consider where your products do well, and invest in the show that is best suited to your product.
Answering the Million Dollar Question - “When Am I Ready?”
To really know when you are ready, you really need to have a solid product line. It needs to be unique, with its own brand voice, and its own aesthetic that really stands out in the marketplace, and you need to have a volume of product. If you only have a small line of product, you should not be going to shows and you should not start wholesaling yet. Then the second step of that is figuring out your sales flow and how you fulfill products. If an order comes in, do you have the systems in place to get that stuff out quickly? Do you have inventory? Do you have a catalogue? Do you have terms and conditions? All of these things are really important, and if you have these key components in place, you can fake it till you make it a little more easily.
Investing in the Right Trade Show Booth for Your Business
Most trade shows are sold on a square foot basis and so they’ll have a certain price per square foot and then each show has different lots, so to speak. For example, at the National Stationery Show, the smallest booths they have are 60 square foot and there is typically a premium add-on for having a corner booth. Personally, Katie loves corner booths because they open you up to more exposure, and you get people coming from both sides. However, the premium kind of offsets having to outfit another wall. You need to do what fits your budget and ultimately, it’s going to drive back to your marketing.
Your Marketing Game Plan Before Heading to a Show
Katie is a huge advocate of making all of your outreach really beneficial and valuable to your buyers. In your mailer, you want to include things like your special offering and how your customers can save money and get more value. Include anything that is going to help them buy. On the mailer you also want to include your company logo, your URL, all of your contact information, your booth number, and some teaser content to give the buyer something to look forward to. Another show special is lowering your minimum order amount. You want to make it a comfortable buying experience for retailers and make it easy for them to simply get a foot in the door. To add even more value, you could send them graphics to include on their website or to post on social media once they’re carrying your products.
How to Make Your Booth Stand Out at a Trade Show
When you are starting out with your design, there are a couple of things that you really need to focus on. Number one is remembering that you are there to sell and that your product is the hero. You want to make your product look the best it’s ever looked and have it merchandised in a way that buyers can see what it is, so they can see how it functions and they can decide to make a purchase. The next thing to focus on is knowing your brand and having a cohesive look for your booth that matches your catalogue and your website, and the overall look of your brand. This includes colors, patterns, and signage.
- Learn more about the four buckets of saving up for a trade show to avoid surprise costs. [0:05:51.7]
- The pros and cons of going to a national stationery show versus a local trade show first. [0:10:12.9]
- Find out when it’s the right time to expand your product-based business into trade shows. [0:12:19.0]
- Understand how to invest in the right trade show booth for your business. [0:15:55.1]
- Hear Katie’s tips on setting up a marketing game plan before heading to a trade show. [0:18:48.7]
- Find out how to make your own booth stand out in the trade show crowds. [0:25:07.9]
- Send a thank you note to your retailers.
- Write a personalized email to engage with and get feedback from retailer.
- Use social media to build relationships.