Happy New Year! It’s officially show season! January not only kick starts another year, but for the furnishing industry it also opens the door to a fresh abundance of ideas, products and strategies. And that’s where this month’s blog with focus heavily on, show season. With the INDX Furniture Show and the January Furniture Show the first events of the furniture calendar, the question is… are you prepared?
If the answer is yes, of course! Then that’s great, but if the answer is not yet, no or even maybe, this article is one to read and form part of preparations ahead of visiting. So, why would you even go to a trade show? Now that can seem like a silly question but it’s worth asking yourself. In business, time is crucial and for independent retailers especially, there is never enough time, right? When planning to attend a trade show, you must form a strategy, a plan, an approach and factor every little detail to maximise the most of your TIME. Afterall, with you and the team attending, it could mean your store is closed for day, or two. Here’s some top tips to think about with show planning.
Trade shows are a great way to see existing clients, catch up with old industry friends and, of course, source new ideas and trends. Look around your store, see what’s selling well – and what’s not, what you may be missing, what needs a refresh, etc. Factor these things in your thinking and start to populate a hit list from your research. This way, you won’t miss any key clients you want to see, while also outlining areas you wish to explore. Check out industry news on key clients too, see how they have been performing, or if any new ranges have been launched post-show. Research is key to getting started.
Again, this may sound simple, but arranging appointments with key suppliers is crucial where time is considered. If possible – and after your research – start to populate your hit list with fixed appointments. This way, you can naturally build a time diary of the days you plan to attend and see what time becomes available for other things, like exploring new products/stands or just a have chilled mosey round. Your clients will want to make appointments with you so they know when to be on stand too, so it can be a win-win.
As part of your research, you would’ve included budget. You may’ve even established months beforehand. Your budget can help you understand what events you can afford to attend and set plans accordingly. Think about travel, hotels, food, drink, etc. And of course, the time spent away while the store is possibly closed. Don’t forget your business card too!
As we’ve already covered, the hit list has now been formed and your appointments (hopefully some) have been pre-arranged. Now you know who you are hitting, when and where they will be (what stand/hall etc). Once they key hitters are on the list and time has been allocated, here’s the extra fun part, you can fill in any gaps with exploring new exhibitors or product areas you wish to develop, or even services and industry associations. Allocate time for these requirements on your hit list and won’t leave a trade show disappointed that you missed checking out the new game bed, floating table or anti-snore pillow on show – you get my drift!
Who are you
Are you attending on your own or are you planning to bring someone (or the team) along for the ride? Again, another simple point here, but planning who is coming, and who is staying, is key to a positive event. For example, if your focus is beds, then bring your best beds salesperson to help take in all the new products on display. If you’re after something completely new, it’s always best for a second opinion than flying solo. You can identify the type of staff you need through the goals you set.
Comfy shoes and clothes are a must at shows. You’ll most likely be walking from hall to hall, stand to stand, testing one sofa here, one mattress there, and having a slight breather in the canteen or pit stop in the loo. It can be taxing, so it’s worthwhile to gear up properly. No one wants blisters after an hour of walking through halls, and let’s be honest, the runway carpet isn’t exactly cushioned! Another item on the list is a bag. No doubt you will be flooded with flyers, informative brochures and the odd catalogue. If you want to keep them all, you’ll need somewhere to put them! Finally, a refillable water bottle. Make sure to stay hydrated and the steps you make will most certainly smash the daily recommended 10,000!
While visiting the show(s) make sure you stay active on your social channels. It gives an insight to your followers what you’re up to but also highlights your endeavors to maintain a fresh, modern furniture store. Tag clients you see, share a selfie and enjoy the moments, it’s all good fun.
Speaking of fun, the most important rule here is to have fun. I know, I know, it sounds cheesy but it’s true. No one wants to speak to anyone chewing a wasp. If you’re happy, enjoying weaving through the hustle and bustle to each stand you land on, then chances are, you’ll leave with positive results too.
On that note, I’ll leave you to prep for the show(s) of your choice. If you see me around any of them this month or indeed over the course of the year, please do stop and say hello. We can compare who’s done more steps! Now step to it!