Getting there, to be an exhibitor at a trade fair, was one thing and with a little help from my friends at UKFT Exports (see the previous blog) I had secured the financing to attend. But how was I going to get buyers to come onto my stand and give me the chance to take them through my collection?
This along with a whole lot of other revelations (some from observation) I thought were best covered in a brief Do’s and Don’t guide of exhibiting at a Fashion Trade Fair:
- Contact the buyers of your top 20 stores and try to secure an appointment
- Advertise on your website with the Fair dates and Stand number
- Make your stand as beautifully merchandised and inviting as possible
- Have printed material to hand
- Wear items from your collection while working
- Make friends and support your neighbours around you whether by lending hangars, keeping an eye on their stand or sending your clients their way
- Walk around the fair and speak with other exhibitors
- See what others are doing right with their stand and where you can improve
- Follow up with buyers after the fair with any additional information
- Stay in touch with other brands – as they have proven an invaluable source on which clients are the goods ones to have.
- Be disappointed when you don’t secure appointments
- Block off your stand to allow only one entry and exit point
- Think no-one is watching while on duty on the stand
- Try to poach buyers from your neighbouring stand
- Expect all the buyers who come to see you to place orders – it’s an observation game over a few seasons to see your brand is here to stay
- Carry out espionage by getting a buyer to give you a competitor’s catalogue
- Expect to get the stand 100% perfect the first time
- Be surprised if potential clients contact you out of the blue after the fair.
Most importantly of all don’t forget to send all the relevant paperwork such as order confirmations and new client forms to finalise the working relationship. This is a brand awareness building exercise as much as a sales pitch, where I know next season I will get those who only stopped by to see the brand this time.