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Old 29th May 2015, 01:19 PM   #1
Madam Pickle

Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 3
Default How Helpful To Online Business Are Expos And Fairs?

Hello all! I could really use some advice on a pressing decision. I was recently accepted to quite a large expo/art fair in Denver. I have a small online business, making topical organics and cosmetics, which is still in its infancy. I have a shop on Etsy which is finally getting some traction and I'm about to unveil a sparkly new website and blog.

Well, a big life event, including some amount of turmoil, recently happened. Suffice it to say, I'm getting a divorce. I'll be moving, looking for a new job (since my business income is not regular yet), etc. So doing the fair would be a something of a hardship (doable, but difficult) right now. However, where I'm moving to--not to mention the changing nature of my life--will make participating in such an event in the future unlikely. I'll be far away from any big or artsy cities and will likely be somewhat broke and busy working a new job (unless my business magically takes off). So my question is: Could doing this big event really be a boon to my business--for generating traffic to my site and getting the ball rolling (this is my objective more so than the money I might make there)? Is it worth taking this on right now? Have any of you had experience with such fairs and did it make a difference for you?

Thanks to anyone kind enough to reply!

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Old 2nd June 2015, 10:53 AM   #2
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Location: Triangle area, NC, USA, North America, Earth (usually)
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I don't know if it's possible to predict in advance, because there are so many variables, not all of which are under your control.

For instance, if the people who are running the fair don't do a good job of promoting it, or promote it to an audience who isn't primarily interested in what you offer, it probably wouldn't be a good deal for you. But if they are able to bring in a lot of people who are interested in your products, it could turn out to be quite lucrative.

I know some people who actually make a full time living with their crafts, simply by selling at fairs and shows. They live in a rural area where their day-to-day expenses are relatively low, and do a show or two a month, traveling in an older RV they picked up cheap. Gives them a place to stay at the show, plus plenty of storage space to transport their products (and space where they can make/assemble more products "after hours" if needed during multi-day shows). So in other words, just because you don't live in a big city, that doesn't mean you'll never be able to participate in trade shows again... if it turns out that's a good way of marketing your products you can find a way to make it happen.

But I digress...

If you decide to go, make sure you have plenty of business cards with your contact information (website URL, email address, phone number, whatever channels you use to sell your products). Put together the most attractive and eye-catching display you can. Be sure to tuck a couple of business cards into the package if someone buys from you, and try to get everyone who stops by your display to take a card. Since you say your primary goal is to build ongoing traffic for your website, you want to make sure that people who stop by your booth go away with the information they need to find you again once the show is over.

You'll also want to promote your own appearance at the show ahead of time. If you have social media accounts (Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, whatever), mention that you're going to be there. Maybe even offer some sort of special deal to website visitors who stop by your booth and mention a special code, or something like that. At the very least, invite your followers to come to the show and bring their friends. Post pictures of the kinds of things you'll be selling at the show. (Pictures tend to attract attention.)

Honestly, if you can swing it, I think it will be a good experience for you. It will give you more exposure and it will help you hone your in-person selling skills.

And it's not just about the sales you might make there. If you really listen to the comments (particularly the objections) that people raise, that will help you refine your online marketing to address those objections (which will help you sell more product in the long run). And if there's something that really seems to resonate with your booth visitors, you know that's something you might want to push harder online.

To my mind, there's very little that can beat getting "up close and personal" with your target customers.


Diane Aull - NineYards.com: Helping Businesses Do Business Online
Whether you think you can, or that you can't, you are usually right.
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Old 2nd June 2015, 12:18 PM   #3
Madam Pickle

Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 3
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Thank you so much for your *very helpful* and considerate answer, Torka! You know, I do believe in the organizers of this event--they seem to advertise well and support their sellers. So I do think I'm going to do it.

I've also received some help on a display idea that could work for me and (I think) look attractive and unique, even on a smallish budget. I was also thinking that getting all set up for this and having the experience will be helpful in being able to go to shows and all in the future with more ease; as my life will be more hectic then.

Thanks again and thanks for the tips!

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Old 4th June 2015, 11:07 AM   #4
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Cheyenne, WA
Posts: 9

My personal opinion about all these exhibitions/meetings/"insert_event" is that their primary purpose (and which they serve perfectly) is networking. You meet new people who bring you new opportunities but there's no way to tell how everything will work out. One day you may come home with nothing, while the next day you get acquainted with your best client.

So what I'm trying to say is that you need to view it as an opportunity but not to expect too much from it.

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Old 5th June 2015, 06:15 PM   #5
Madam Pickle

Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 3

Thanks for your input. Indeed, I'm tempering my expectations--not imagining I'll bring home any serious cash or with my business suddenly going through the roof. But I have come to the conclusion that anything that might provide traction at this point is worth taking a chance on. I think it will be a good experience for me at any rate. Thanks again!

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