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Budgets and Planning, Tips

It’s March – Time to Attend Trade Shows. Are You Ready?

 March 7, 2020

By  Jana Hassett

We are – but we’ve been doing them for well over 20 years.  Some of the merchandise hasn’t changed but a lot of other things have. 

You can still purchase tumbled rock either in bulk or individual bags.  Silver and gold chains, not much change.  Silver charms are still available.  And other basics of the jewelry industry have stayed the same. Home décor and women’s fashion have some industry standards, but high fashion comes and goes. 

What doesn’t change is the process every business owner should complete before booking their reservations to attend.  The trade show cycle has been the same for the 30+ years that I’ve been attending.  Winter shows for summer goods – Summer shows for Christmas and Winter goods – Industry standards both. The clothing trade might have a spring show for back to school, but some of those are now online. 

The trade shows give merchants the opportunity to learn from the more established companies in a market or industry.  Nowhere else will all their “secrets” be on full display, and nowhere else are you going to be able to get the kind of inside information and insight from their sales and marketing teams – potentially even high-level executives – with as much freedom and as much transparency as you will at a trade show.

We start in November and by the time we do the major rock trade show in February and the cash and carry Jewelry show in March, we know what’s the posterchild for the year, the Pantone color of the year, and the stone of the year.  This allows us to plan our purchases accordingly. 

At this point, we’ve already signed up and paid for (or put money away for) vendor spaces in the rock, gem, and art shows we do every year.  April, May, September, November and December shows. Each generate about 1/5th of our retail sales.  Tracy also has a growing portfolio of wholesale customers.  We visit those on the way to and from vendor shows.  We’ll book our hotel rooms for the trade shows, vendor shows and finalize our buying budget before the first of the year. Having that done gives us the consistency our customers want, and we are not likely to impulse buy at the trade shows.  Impulse buys can be very fun, but very costly. 

Today’s ultracompetitive business environment demands smart marketers, savvy entrepreneurs and serious small-business owners that build relationships with their prospects, partners, and customers.  People are looking for an authentic experience, want to do business with companies that have shared values, and are looking for more of a “human touch”, even if the overwhelming majority of their business interactions are handled online or through a mobile app.

Don’t put your company in jeopardy by attending shows without a budget, a plan, and a focus.  My “How To Attend A Trade Show” Checklist will be available March 17th to purchase.  Sign up now

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