Exhibiting your business – Competition vs Comrades.

At the beginning  of every year, Spring Fair at the NEC is the place to be. For those of you who don’t work in retail: It is a huge event for traders to showcase, and retailers to spend.

My primary mission was to see what it would be like if I was to exhibit L. K. Rosa next Spring. I worked hard, scribbling mental notes in my head, illegible garble my notebook and colourful additions to my phone memo pad. I asked lots of the exhibitors for feedback: Have you had a good week? How is this spot working for you? Have you had a lot of interest? and generally falling into conversation about their work, my work and any other topic that came up.

If you are hoping to exhibit your own jewellery, craft or art somewhere – I highly recommend going to check out the event first. In fact, unless I know an Event Coordinator personally, I wouldn’t turn up to a large scale event without making my preliminary checks.

Whilst I am researching an event I think about the following points as a bare minimum. In addition, some conversations will pop up out of the blue that can help you make a judgement, actions you hadn’t anticipated may sway your opinion one way or another and even the day you visit may affect how you see this event working for your business. So let’s start with a few pointers to keep in mind:

  • Who else is exhibiting there?
  • Do the other exhibitors mean high competition or do they mean an increased audience looking for a particular thing?
  • What audience does the event attract? Is this the audience you hope to reach?
  • Are you going to reach impromptu buyers as well?
  • What is the likely footfall at the event?
  • How is the event advertised? Are the Event Managers willing to spend the required money on marketing to ensure that the right people know about it?
  • Is there any media coverage?
  • Are some stall positions better than others – if so do these come at a premium price?
  • Do you have the scope to make the stand space how you like it?
  • Is there enough space or is everything crammed together?
  • How does your product compare with what else is available? Is the market already saturated or can you slot in?
  • Do you have the necessary product volume in stock for this kind of event?
  • Do you have the manpower? Can you enlist co-workers, partners, siblings or friends to help you?
  • How much does the space cost?
  • What do you hope to achieve by attending this event?
  • What are your projected sales by attending this event?
  • Is it worth it?
  • Are the other exhibitors friendly?

By asking these questions, you’ll find yourself with a list of pro’s and con’s. This should help you easily decide whether or not to exhibit.

The last question is just something I add in because personally, I like to work alongside friendly people. In the case of the NEC there are two ginormous rooms filled with beautful beads, beautiful jewellery and beautiful people. And some of those people you are going to be directly in competition with. I realise that as a guest at the show the exhibitors and designers will inevitably greet me with enthusiasm – but I told every single one of them my honest reasons for being there and I base my ‘are they friendly’ opinion upon how they treat me after this.

Yesterday, I experienced three main reactions: the sales pitch, the competitior, and the comrade. Sometimes all three. I decided from these reactions that these people are the kind of people I would like to exhibit alongside. Creative, artistic, committed, tenacious and enthusiastic. That is the kind of environment that sells. And that is what is important.

After I finished my few hours in the jewelery rooms and with my head abuzz with ideas, I left the shiny pretty things that make me happy and meandered through some of the other spaces. In comparison to the jewellery, I could almost smell the desperation in some of the other rooms, feel the glower of eyes as I walked past their stands. I’m deliberately being vague in saying which rooms exactly – but it was clearly not easy for everybody at the show. There was definately a lingering mist of melancholy that I can only blame on the reluctance of retailers to buy – I assume, due to what people are calling ‘recession’.

To succeed in business takes a good personality, a quality product, lots of hard work and a few sprinkles of good luck along the way. Whatever business you’re working in – do try to remember that your main competitor can also prove to be a good comrade. There is room enough for us all in this world, we just need to help each other and we can all achieve our dreams and find success.

In the meantime, I would love to hear what questions you ask yourself when choosing whether or not to exhibit somewhere new. Do you check out a potential show first or just turn up and try your luck?

Wishing you all the best at your next exhibition. Perhaps we’ll see you there!

Love LKR


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