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February 17, 2020
Maria Pesin

How should you choose the right trade show for your fashion brand?  If you have been thinking of doing trade shows read this article to help you determine which ones.
First, identify what your objectives are. What results are you hoping to achieve, and what buyers do you want to reach? The first step with any business decision is to identify your objectives and then choose a course of action that will provide you the best opportunity to meet those objectives.
Are you trying to build your business nationally or do you want to build it one region at a time.  Regional shows tend to be less costly.  But, national shows will give you more exposure.  Ask yourself; do you want to be in a high-end show or something that is right for moderately priced stores?  Do you want to do a national trade show like Coterie? Or, perhaps you might do regional shows like Style Max in Chicago and/or The Atlanta Mart.   You can even look at product specific shows like Active Collective or Outdoor Retailer or even The Swim show. Research all the choices before you decide.
The following is what you should consider:

  • Be clear on who your target buyer is.  Determine what stores would do well with your product and then find out what shows they attend.
  • Where does your competition show?  Chances are that is where the accounts you want to see go.  Of course I mean your successful competition.  The ones you know sell many stores.
  • Make sure that the show you attend gets good traffic.  If it is a poorly attended show your chances of getting orders goes down.  Also, the show needs to get the right traffic.  So if a show has a lower attendance but great quality stores attend then it may be the way to go for you.
  • Are the people who run the show easy to work with?  The days where a trade show company can be very independent is over.  If they don’t return your calls or give you any support, have second thoughts about whether to they are the right show for you.
  • Will they give you good placement at the show or help promote your line.  Good placement at a show is critical.  Especially if you are new.  While a new brand does not have the clout to demand good placement some trade shows are smaller so you can get better exposure.  Something to think about when choosing.
  • Where do your accounts tell you they like to shop?  Buyers have their preferences.  Finding out where they shop and why can give you insight to what might be the best place for you.
  • Visit the show.  Contact the show organizers and have them walk you through the show.  This way you can get a feel if the show is for you and you can get a lot of your questions answered.

When it comes to growing your business or launching a new product, trade shows can be a very effective way to gain industry insight, capture new prospect leads, and network.  But they are expensive in both time and money so consider your options carefully and think strategically about the type of show to attend and how you can stand out once you’re there.
Trade shows are not a one and done type of thing.  It usually takes several showings at any particular show before you get traction.  It is a waste to do one show and then never do it again.  You might as well not doing any shows then doing only one.  Buyers usually want to see you several times at a show before they buy your line.  They want to know your look is consistent over time and you will be in business for a while.  By sticking with it people start to have a comfort for level with your brand.
A lot of buyers shop trade shows so it can a great tool in your toolbox.  So it is definitely worthwhile to look into doing them.  Do the research so that you choose the right trade show for your brand.
Read my blog 10 Tops Tips For A Successful Fashion Trade Show for more info on increasing your trade show success.

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Maria Pesin

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