As a continuation of our article on Trade Shows, I have a short interview with a gal I have worked with for many years. Caroli, owner of The Rose Lady, makes most of her sales via Trade Shows. She travels all over the US to exhibit in select trade shows and the Seattle Gift Show is where I originally met her.
Here is her comments about Wholesale Trade Shows:
We have been doing wholesale gift shows and souvenir shows for the past 20 years and it is the main way we market our business. I find it useful as we meet the buyer face to face and develop a connection that can not be found on just browsing the internet. Also our product looks better in person than in photograph. We have yet to find a photographer who can really capture the beauty of our natural leaves and flowers that are plated. This may not be true of everyone’s product but it is true of ours.
Also the gift show is an excellent way to network with other wholesalers. I pick up useful tips on how to market better, other venues etc etc. We meet other vendors who may have supporting products such as webmasters, printers, accessories that we can use to assemble our jewelry etc. I always believe that even when a show is slow in sales that something good comes from it; even if something as simple as one small bit of advice or making a new friend.
However, we cannot run a business on that alone. We all need profit and that has been harder than in the past.
This year, the shows seem to be about the same as last year. We have 3 finished right now on East Coast and West Coast and they have all been just about the same volume of traffic and # of sales. That is encouraging as for many years during the recession, it seemed that sales were always falling each year. Even though the shows are not booming, it is really nice that they seemed to have stabilized. Most buyers and exhibitors agree that the economy seems to be doing better and hopefully it will be just a matter of time before this trickles down into consumer confidence for gift buying. All agree that it is certainly stabilized since a few years ago.
For new wholesalers, I definitely advise gift shows as a way to promote your products. It is an excellent way to educate yourself about the business and get feedback on your product; even fine tune it to make it more desirable.
It is nice to walk the shows before signing up to do it and get a feel as to what types of products seem to be doing well at the show. It is also nice to see if there are any competing products in the market you would like to enter. It is also very important to have your website up as it is a very useful tool for buyers to follow up with you after the show. It is very important to keep the leads as many will turn into customers eventually even if a few years later.
It is important to have handouts for the buyers walking by that don’t purchase. And last but not least, do not push too much. Enjoy and think of each person passing as a potential new friend. Trade shows can be tiring but also very enjoyable and always a learning experience. I always take a notebook and write down ideas that I get while there. Sometimes in this hurried business world, during a slow time at a trade show, your best ideas or the best advice needs to be written down as you are certain to forget when returning to the office and back into the everyday business.
If you are interested in The Rose Lady products, you can find them here:
- Leaf Napkin Rings (site I designed for her products)
- Leaf Nightlights (another site I designed for her products)
- The Rose Lady (her complete line of products)