TOP TIPS: making the most of trade shows .
Back in July, I made the decision to show Farrar Studio at Pure Origin, a new manufacturing trade show held alongside London’s biggest fashion trade show, Pure London. It was a bold financial move, (it’s no secret that trades hows cost a lot of money!) but one that I felt was a necessary investment to give my young business some authentic exposure.
WAS IT WORTH IT? .
Although Pure Origin is only in it’s second season, it’s a huge opportunity for brands and manufacturers to come together under one roof and for people in industry to explore new manufacturing and supply solutions.
For me, it was a financial risk worth taking, it provided a platform for me to engage with potential customers whom I might not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. It also highlighted the importance of face to face communication. In a world driven by social media and hiding behind screens, being able to generate authentic conversation and rapport with new people is so important. Many customers who came onto the stand assumed I was an agent working on behalf of a large UK or Chinese company and were surprised (and often relieved) to discover that Farrar Studio is my own business built up from the ground. It reassured them that their custom wouldn’t get lost in a huge company and that their presence would have a direct impact on my business. It immediately broke down some barriers and I met really interesting individuals whom I have already begun to build great business to business relationships with.
TIPS FOR ATTENDING FASHION TRADE SHOWS .
Attending a trade show can often be really overwhelming and they are usually huge exhibitions that can take a long time to get around. Here are some of my tips for getting the most out of attending a trade show:
Research ahead and create a rough itinerary:
Look at the exhibitor lists ahead of your trip, see who’s showing and if your current suppliers are, arrange to meet with them. Look for anyone who you think could be useful to speak to and plan to go to their stands. It also makes you memorable to the exhibitor…I was always flattered when people had researched Farrar Studio beforehand and planned to see my stand. Factor in some time for ‘browsing’ and having a look around, you never know what you might find!
Plan questions to ask suppliers:
Be prepared. What do you want out of your visit? Having a list of questions and things that you need helps focus your time at a trade show. It also helps exhibitors understand what you want from them. If you have visuals they can be really useful, it helps the exhibitor understand your brand if they haven’t already heard of it. A lot of people assumed I knew exactly what they were talking about when they came onto my stand, even if they hadn’t launched their brand yet…some context can really help.
Don’t be afraid to go onto stands:
It can be overwhelming walking onto stands, and sometimes exhibitors don’t always look that approachable, but just take a breath and go for it with a smile. You never know what you could get out of sparking up a conversation and what it can lead to.
Always. Bring. Business cards.
Business cards are so important in follow up communication after a trade show and are so much more professional and accurate than scribbling details down on some paper. I have a separate notebook on my stand in which I staple all the business cards I exchange and write a note alongside each one so I can remember the conversation I had with each customer. Over a 3 day trade show, exhibitors will speak to hundreds of people, so I find making notes alongside really helps jog my memory of the finer details.
This is possibly one of the most useful yet underused tools of trade shows. Pure London and Pure Origin especially have an extensive list of seminars ranging from trend information, industry experts in panel discussions to current affairs on sustainability and marketing. The amount of ‘free’ information available is extensive and a great source of industry intel. Check the schedule ahead of attending and plan it into your itinerary.
Hopefully that’s given you some insight into fashion trade shows and experiences from both sides of the booth! If you have any tips, share and comment below, I’d love to hear them.
PS. Before you go…I was featured in an interview on the Pure Origin blog, so for some additional reading, take a look via the link below! Thanks .