Interview with Former Group Show Manager, Part Two

Last week, we started our interview with Aubin Wilson, Former Group Show Manager for George Little Management.

Here is Aubin’s tips to exhibitors for making the best impression at trade shows.

What is the best advice you can give to newbies to the wholesale gift show arena?

A few tips:

  1. Give yourself enough time to plan, plan, and plan some more.  If you are not fully prepared to do a Show then don’t do it.  Wait until you are really ready. Some say it takes as long as 12 – 18 months to adequately plan for your first trade show.
  2. If at all possible, walk the show before becoming an exhibitor.  This is a luxury that not all may be afforded, but if it is doable – it is well worth the time and expense.  There is much to be said about seeing a show and checking out the booth displays to see what works, what doesn’t work and how you can create an eye catching booth display in spaces of all sizes not to mention within a specific budget.

    Photo courtesy of George Little Management

    Photo courtesy of George Little Management

  3. Manage your expectations and recognize that while you may take orders at the Show, the return on your investment will not likely be realized immediately after the market closes.  Orders will come in immediately after the market, additional orders will likely come in after post show follow up is done and there is always the intangibles that are hard to monetize:
  • Did our company get press coverage before, during or after the market?  Did members of the press visit my booth during the Show or did they take a press kit from the Press Center?  When EXTRACTS launched this was an important selling point especially for companies trying a brand new and unproven market.  We worked as hard at cultivating relationships with the Consumer Press e.g. Glamour, Allure and InStyle, and as much as we did the trade press from the beauty, fashion, gift and spa industries.  We were very successful in our efforts and as such, EXTRACTS exhibitors were frequently mentioned in product stories along with large names such as Coty, Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden.   Charla Krupp (now deceased), the former Beauty Editor at Glamour used to call me when she was working on a story and needed new resources to feature.
  • What kind of feed back did our company receive during the Show?  How were the products received?  This is invaluable and will aid you in defining your market niche, product development strategy, and overall business direction. 

A few stats about trade shows to take into consideration when measuring your ROI –

The Trade Show Bureau (TSB) statistics show that 50% of Show orders are placed in the months FOLLOWING a Show.

Industry surveys and feedback from veteran gift show exhibitors indicate that it can take up to 3 Shows to establish yourself in the market and to realize the Show’s full potential.

More tips from Aubin ….

  1. When creating a booth display – be creative.  Fixtures, walls, lighting fixtures and props do not have to be expensive.  IKEA, Target and CB2 are great places for inexpensive shelving units, tables, chairs and floor coverings.
  2. While it can be expensive to have lights installed in your booth – lighting is a must!  Make sure you allocate part of your trade show budget for lighting.
  3. Order any labor, electricity, etc. in advance of the Show.  Pay attention to the early bird deadlines – by doing so you can save up to 20% off the standard list price.
  4. If you have any questions about your booth set up, shipping freight to the Show, etc.  READ the Show’s set-up manual and do not hesitate to call the Show’s Operations team with any questions.

    Photo courtesy of George Little Management

    Photo courtesy of George Little Management

What is your best observation on what is working or not working for current exhibitors?

As a trade show producer does – exhibiting companies must promote themselves before, during and after the Show.  Lots of companies just Show up and expect that buyers will flock to their booth and write orders.  This is NOT likely to happen.

Is there any other information about gift shows, exhibiting or GLM you would like to add?

If you are interested in speaking with me directly – you can reach me via LinkedIn.

I am currently consulting for start up, small and mid-sized businesses in the gift, beauty and fashion accessories industries and am happy to help them take their business to the next level.

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