Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How to have a successful Trade Show or Convention Table

So it's almost time to work on the Youmacon convention and I have been reflecting what my last year show was like compared to my trade show venue.
Many of you may also be interested in having your own tables at these trade shows and convention, so let me share a bit of wisdom with you.

In my experience, a trade show or convention is a great way to advertise yourself, company, artwork, and services. Now do not think this is a monetary pay off, because it's not.
This is a sacrifice of time and money, but I in my opinion, I think the benefits of working at these venues far out ways all of the cons!

So let me tell you what you will need in at any of these events:
  1. Table (with a table cloth of your company/favorite color) and chairs (not all venues will have chairs or tables)
  2. Guestbook (to collect emails, address, or just how many have gone to your table that night)
  3. Bring a laptop or portfolio, bins, table tents, office supplies such as pencils, pens, and paper (trust me, people do forget these)
  4. Have some type of contest, drawing, candy or any promotional item that will bring people to your table! (Advertise and Market)
  5. Have a handout of some sort whether it's a flyer or a business card.
  6. Baggies (in case you are selling products), Order forms, Carbon Receipts, Cash box (to take on commissions or orders). These are available at Office Max or Staples
  7. Be ready to stay at your table for the day so bring food, water, and maybe a book
Each show has it's own rules, regulations, start-up costs, and audience. So be sure to know your venue, by researching and asking questions!

Also be sure to get to know your neighbors during these events! It's important to make friends/allies. You never know if you will need to borrow anything or have to leave your table.

Now let me tell you some of the mistakes I made that all of you can avoid:
  • I did not keep a budget! Really it's simple, but if this is your first show, you will be bound to forget. I was so scared that I would not have enough products, I ended up shipping over half of my back-stock home!
  • Be careful when you sign up with others to share a table! Due to unseen circumstances, I ended up at the show alone trying to find out how to receive my badge that was in my partners name! Luckily for me I was able to receive all of my convention materials, but be sure to have place your name on any type of registration information. (also I did have family and neighbors that were able to help me during the show)
  • I did not have a game plan. Since I did not budget, I did not know how much of a profit I would need to cover my losses. (Again you will not recover everything you put into these shows, so be warned) Each day I had to create a new strategy of pricing, specials, and contest.
  • I did not set up an attractive table setting. I was newbie that did not understand the concept of how my customers see my table. Think of your table as a mini store or shop, which has "features", "accessories" and "sale" areas. (I was lucky that someone was kind enough to help me set up "shop") 
If you are interested in starting a table, be sure to know what you want to sell; whether it's yourself, products, or your company's services!

And lastly, the biggest tip I can give you, is Have Fun! These shows are a great experience!
I've had wonderful time meeting new people, selling my products, placing a smiles on clients faces, learning about my competition, and most of all building a Fan Base.

What happens after the shows?
Well just be ready to crash once all of the excitement is over! Give yourself a day or two to recover, especially if you have 2-3 day showings.
Sit down and make a list of what was successful and what was unsuccessful. This is a great way to retain information and reflect.

Now that you have a bit of knowledge, go and have an incredible show!
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