If you look at the fashion trade show schedule, you’ll see that it’s become saturated. Saturated in the number of shows, brands and frequency. As an emerging designer, participating in one is a big investment. From booth fees, logistics, samples, staff you may have to pay, and any unforeseen charges, costs can add up quickly.
If you are going to commit to one, you have to make sure you are maximizing your reach and doing all you can to get people in your booth in addition to pre-show outreach like sending out emails, newsletters and calling buyers.
Once you are there, the key is selling and presenting your collection. One challenge may be getting people in your booth, especially if you are new or don’t have appointments scheduled.
To market your brand and leverage the show traffic, here are 5 things you can do:
1. Use social media to communicate your location – Some trade shows have become so large it’s difficult to find the location of a booth. Tweeting or sharing a photo on Instagram that tells what section you are in, your booth number and a frame of reference (e.g. we’re by the smoothie bar) may help someone get to you quicker. Also using the trade show’s hashtag can help you get discovered.
2. Encourage customers to engage in social media – Part of your trade show merchandising should include your Twitter and Instagram handles along with your brand’s hashtag. If you look at the social platforms of most trade shows, you’ll see that they are pushing out live coverage along with retailers and press.
3. Practice your pitch and train your staff – You only have a few seconds to communicate your brand and what you are offering for the season. Having your pitch refined and being able to deliver it smoothly is important. If someone is working at your booth, it’s important to provide them with talking points so they don’t say something like, “they just went to get something to eat and they’ll be back soon.” They need to be able to speak on behalf of your brand because that’s why they are there. Otherwise, it could be a missed opportunity.
4. Visually communicate your brand descriptors – Just as important as your verbal pitch, make sure you have a visual one. On the show floor, you’ll see a lot of people walk by your booth and quickly assess whether they want to stop. Having a poster, banner or even a framed photo of what your brand means may pique their interest. At POOL in Las Vegas, many brands had signage to include their hometown, product category or where and how it was made. Son of a Sailor, an Austin-based jewelry label had a easy-to-read sign that told people what their brand was about and also showed their aesthetic.
5. Continue the conversation – When someone stops by, try to get their social handles (write it on their business card) and thank them for visiting as a second point of communication. After the show, you may want to create an album with all the photos you have taken on Facebook and Google+ to document the experience and share with others as another way to engage with them.
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