I have a secret to share. I’ve been called “The Old Timer.” It was a shock when I first heard that nickname thrown in my direction. How can it be? I’ve only been in the book business for … well, 20-plus years. When I started, my youngest was only ten months old. Now, he’s a handsome grown man and a sales rep too. So yes, it’s true; I really am “The Old Timer”, which means I’ve also seen a trade show or two.
So today I want to share some of my sage old advice about trade shows. Why attend? The shows are important and can have a major positive impact on your business if you prepare and make the most of it. To give you a step in the right direction, I have summarized four simple guidelines to a successful trade show.
1 – Be Informed
Look at the trade show website. You would be surprised how much useful information is listed. You will find discounted hotels, bus schedules (free transportation to and from your hotel!), exhibitor listings, floor plans, show dates and hours, and much more. I know, some of this is so basic, like dates. But did you know BEA opens four hours early for bargain book buyers on the first day of the show?
2 – Efficiency = Opportunity
Come to the show ready to work and place your orders. The bargain book business is a true closeouts business, as the inventory is finite and will sell out. You may miss some terrific opportunities if you do not lock down the titles you want with a formal purchase order.
3 – Make Appointments
Make the most of your time on the show floor with the following hints.
Set appointments with your sales reps. Often, two or three of my accounts will walk into the Book Depot booth at the same time. The customer with the appointment gets the priority, while the customer who wants to “drop by” must wait. Waiting is not an efficient use of your time, and time is money.
Plan enough time for each appointment. This can vary by vendor. I recommend at least one hour for Book Depot. As the largest bargain book distributor in the market, we’ll have several thousand titles to see. Thirty minutes will not be enough time to shop.
Plan a second visit. This time, “dropping by” will work fine. The first couple of days are crazy—many of the best books are lost in a rush of customers or accidentally left hidden in a stack under a table. A revisit will give you the chance to see what you’ve missed. We restock and categorize the displays in the morning, so you can see the most early in the day.
Make your rep work for you. If you are looking for a specific category (Spanish or Kitchi crafts, for example), drop us a note prior to the show. We’ll have suggestions ready for you to review or, if the category is a little thin at the show (we never have enough room to show everything), we’ll prepare a catalog of in-stock titles for your perusal.
4 – Enjoy & Network
Last but not least, enjoy the show! BEA is a great time to pick up on trends, share information with other retailers, and learn about categories that will add profit to your bottom line. Make sure you schedule enough time to roam the floor and attend the events at the trade show.
I hope my easy steps have been helpful. If you have more to add or any questions, please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on LinkedIn and I would be happy to get in touch!