[W]e’re back from our 4th time exhibiting at the New York International Gift Fair, and once again, so glad to have been a part of! So often, I get asked the same question by other small business owners: “Is that a good show? Should I do it, too?” I don’t have a definitive answer for anyone, but after 4 shows, here’s what I have decided so far about doing trade shows...
- Find a show that your primary buyers will attend. For example, if most of your customers find your product in gift stores, then do a gift show. If you have a baby related product, then do baby shows. Of course, there’s always crossover, but in general, who do you sell to most? Our product line started with baby, but our lunch boxes and coolers crossed us over into the category of gift. So we do the Baby and Kids section of NYIGF
- Not all gift shows are created equally: Last year, we did both the Atlanta Gift Show and the New York Gift Fair back to back. The response from buyers was night and day. In Atlanta, hours on end would go by before anyone gave our booth a second glance. In New York, it felt like almost every 2nd person would stop and pay a compliment to the line. This is how I knew my buyers were in NYC. Don’t get me wrong – there were good buyers in Atlanta as well, but much fewer and far between, and given the choice, I knew which show was better for me.
- Consistency counts. Having made my choice that the NYIGF was the right show for me, there’s a lot to be said that the consistency of my brand presence from show to show was more important than the actual sales made at the show. I’ve had retailers come by show after show to look at the line and only ordered after the 3rd show, having gained some confidence in the line. I also have retailers who only ever order at the show, because they know they’re going to see us there. So if we don’t go, no order.
- Contacts: There is no replacing the experience of meeting media or buyers face to face. Although everything can be done over the phone or online, when you meet these people in person, you establish a personal connection that can’t be replicated in other ways
- Networking: By far, the best parts of these shows are the friends you make with other entrepreneurs. No one understands the struggles, the rewards and the day to day of running your own business like someone else who does this same. It’s a great way to be supportive and get support from others – although of course, not a sole reason to do a show :) Have a small business yourself? Maybe we'll see you one day in New York? Make sure you come by and say hi!
Leave a comment