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Using Fairs and Exhibitions to Improve Sales

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 6 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Trade Fairs Exhibitions Collectibles

One of the most useful areas to increase sales for your collectibles and memorabilia business is to take part in trade fairs, exhibitions, conventions and conferences. Having easy access to your target market means that your chances at selling are already improved, especially when you tailor your stock to suit the event. Finding out about fairs and exhibitions in advance, gives you plenty of opportunity to corner the market in your specialist area and you should always look for the next upcoming event when you can show off your products.

Trade Fairs and Conferences

You may find that trade fairs and collectibles conferences are more tailored towards larger companies who are looking to sell their goods wholesale to smaller businesses, but don’t let that put you off. You can do some great networking at trade fairs and if you don’t go there to sell your own items, make sure you go to check out who the best suppliers are for your type of memorabilia. A lot of the big suppliers will be offering freebies and discounts to small businesses on the day and you can increase sales by having extra stock at lower prices. If you do try to attend as an exhibitor, make sure that you have your stall well stocked. Many trade fairs are now open to the public and even if you don’t make a lot of sales on the day, getting your business out there and well publicised can be priceless.

Similarly, if you’re invited to a conference for specialists in your field, always try and make it. There is a lot of good networking to be done and you can learn lots of great sales techniques, promotional events and more from the experts. This can only serve to increase your sales, as you’ll become more educated on why others are doing so well in the same area. You can usually find out information about upcoming trade fairs or conferences by looking through some of the trade magazines. Collectibles and Memorabilia magazines will often list those available to the public and your distributors and suppliers should be able to provide you with information on local events in your area.

Conventions and How to Approach Them

One of the best times of the year to sell as a collectibles merchandiser is during conventions. People who arrange conventions rely on retailers to take part, creating a great competitive environment for sellers and a diverse selection of products for buyers. As a collectibles and memorabilia seller, you really can’t afford to miss out on these excellent opportunities to show you wares. Plan well in advance because you’ll need to ensure you have extra stock for the convention, while still being able to keep your own business open and filled up enough with stock to interest customers.

If you keep a note of what the convention is focusing on (TV, music, film, particular TV shows, certain genres) you’ll be able to organise your stock to suit. Then you need to make sure you book your spot before registration closes. Organising your stock and plans in advance can save a lot of hassle on the day and means you’ll go to the convention feeling calm and together without worrying about who is running your business at home or whether you’ve brought the right items.

Selling at a Convention

There are a few differences to selling at a convention than selling in your store. Firstly, your stock is generally far smaller and normally aimed at the target market. Secondly, you are competing with dozens of other stalls for business, all of which are within walking distance , so to increase your sales you really need to think smart. If you have any rare or extremely limited items in stock, make sure that you take them to the convention. Set them up at the front of your stall where everyone can see them and make sure you know as much about them as possible.

Conventions attract a lot of educated specialist collectors who know their items, so being able to answer as many questions as you can help seal the deal when it comes to a sale. Your rare items should be priced competitively, but not so that you’re making a loss. If you’ve planned correctly, there is normally someone at a convention who will want the item you have as it’ll be exactly the type of collectible they’re interested in. Another great thing about conventions for increasing sales is that you can actually take a lot of the old stock you have that isn’t selling in store. Have a whole section of it and sell it at a slightly marked down price. People are generally willing to pay for things at a convention as they’ve set aside an amount of money already to spend there or may feel like they won’t have the chance again for some time to find those items.

Exhibitions and Demonstrations

Every so often, local groups or organisations will arrange an exhibition or demonstration of local businesses in your area. If you’re invited to one, it can be another great way of increasing your business. Not only are you able to sell on the day, but often you’ll be able to talk about your business and get locals interested enough to stop buy your actual store. Again, be prepared for lots of questions and also have business cards or flyers at your stall to hand out to people or put in their bags if they buy something.

Getting your business recognised at trade fairs, exhibitions and conventions can make a lull in your sales suddenly take a sharp rise. Use it to your advantage and try and offload some stock that isn’t selling as well as wowing the crowd with some rare items. People do spend at these events, so networking, getting your business promoted and making money can all happen in the one place.

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