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October 25, 2007

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My first wholesale show was 3 months into business and it was worth the money spent. My second show a year later was also well worth it. It paid for itself and even a little extra. I've done ABC, NY Stationery show and Atlanta again since then and none of those have been near as good. I was always under the assumption that I was doing it wrong by jumping from show to show and not staying at the same venue each time. But after the last show and seeing the attendance of buyers, I have to say I changed my mind. Attendance is way down, something the trade mags will NOT tell you, infact they say just the opposite. However I just read one, may have been Earnshaws (can't remember), but it was actually spot on, by saying the same thing and admitting that the shows are for exhibitors more than anything and that attendance is down because stores are staying open on Sundays and Mondays now. What's frustrating is that the show coordinators lead you to believe they are doing you a "favor" by letting you exhibit at their shows and charging you out the wazoo for it. My company listing was left out of the Atlanta Buyers guide after spending $1200 on my ad in the magazine and was told verbatim that "it is a complimentary service we offer, we don't gaurantee a listing". WHAT? I just spent over $5,000 on your show and you can't GIVE me a listing. It's insane and disheartening. I have decided to hold off on shows this year as well. I'll take my $5,000 ($10,000 if you do NY) and spend it on something with a better ROI. This is just my humble opinion from my own experience.

I think your portion of the booth (1/2 of a 10x10) was $1000-1200. The total was $2,000 to $2,500 for the whole booth. Ouch!

Jamie...you've opened my eyes up and now have me wondering if I would do it again? Once you broke down the investment portion of it....I could have totally done so much more with all the money I spent...although I don't regret Vegas....it was my excuse for my first vacation since my first was born six years ago...so in that sense, it was totally worth it! It actually made me realize that I CAN actually afford a vacation.....to be honest, if that's all it was...it would have been so much cheapier!!!

I just posted about this, but we had our 'going into the second year' marketing meeting and trade shows are really not part of the plan!!

I feel strongly that they will be worth it when we've built our brand and the trade show is a central meeting point for the zillion of buyers who are coming to see us.

All of our press, celebrity contacts, etc. has not happened at the trade shows. We spent a lot of money in our first year that would've been better spent on targeted sales channels.

And I got orders at both shows. But not, as you see the costs - $7K worth of orders. So, the second year will be focused on direct sales, not hoping to reel some randoms in at a trade show that has too many vendors in the first place.

Amber - thanks for commenting! I think your comment is dead on and all of the information on your blog is very informative. I actually WANT to go to the ABC Kids Expo, but I can NOT spend that kind of money and not have a quicker return on investment. I look forward to keeping up with your blog and seeing what you do next, I am putting money on Baby Fabulous on Oprah!

Thanks for your insight and it's great to hear what others are doing. I am in my second year of business and I've been doing direct marketing only mainly. I've been picking up wholesalers on a small scale to keep me going while working on the retail marketing end. Based on what I've been reading, I'll stick to the direct marketing. I am going to check out your podcast show as well.
Thanks

Robin - thanks for commenting. It is a hard thing to figure out I agree - what to spend where, how much time to focus on each aspect of the business. I try to be really disiplined and spend time on each aspect of the business...but I am ussually a day late and a dollar short! Good luck, and your site is cute.

I decided to debut my new line at KIDShow Las Vegas this past August. I was new to the business and read that KIDShow was a smaller and less expensive show, but a good place to start...so that's what I did. I don't regret this decision - it was a tremendous learning experience and I gained valuable contacts as a new business...but, I have decided not to do it again.

When it comes down to ROI, I just can not see how it is worth it. I could spend $3,000-5,000 (we spent in the $4000 range total) on other marketing avenues with a much better return. I have heard from other vendors that ENK NY is a good show, expensive, but worth it. I'll just say that I don't have any trade shows in our marketing plan for 2008 at this time. Things change, and I always try to remain open to possibilities, but that's where I stand at this point in time.

Thank you for sharing your experiences! I know that I have personally referred multiple business owners to your post for an honest opinion from an experienced business owner. You are definitely helping others and we appreciate it!

Amber - what great information about the Kids Show - I totally forgot about that. I hate running the numbers, even doing margins on my products now, but it is a necesarry thing to do when running a business. I honestly have no idea how other company's continue to exhibit at trade shows over and over and spend SOOO much money on it. Thanks for commenting!

After 18 months in business we just attended our first trade show, MAGIC Kids, in Vegas. I have to say that it was worth it for us. We have a large product line with a wide range of products (see flutterbye.net) that are geared to a wide range of ages. I think that was key to our doing well enough to pay for the show with our profits from sales there.

But more than just making sales, and developing new contacts that might lead to more sales, was the networking with people that have been doing these shows for years. There's a lot of knowledge out there, and I learned more in the 4 days doing this show by talking to those in the booths around me than I could have in any semester of classes on business.

Also, since we use such a variety of material in our products, going to the complementing shows of Sourcing and Textiles saved us a ton of money on future products. We were able to find suppliers for such a variety of the materials we use, and we came up with new ideas for products by seeing what was available.

In addition to that we had all sorts of reps come by our booth selling services. Half were useless or overpriced, but half are possibilities. We're definitely having one of them print up our catalog for the next show and our mailings. And a rep from a silk screening shop gave us some ideas that are likely to launch some entirely new products.

With all that said, I do have to say that many of the new vendors are not likely to return. Their sales were not good enough to warrant it. Some of the old timers say that traffic is way down, but that long time clients count on them being there, so they come every show because of those clients. Some said that repetition is key; that bigger buyers will not make purchases from booths they haven't seen before.

All I know is that we learned a ton, and made a couple really important contacts that could result in some really big sales. Who would have thought a chain in Japan might be interested in our product? Cold calls to boutiques would not have provided either.

Eric - I am glad the show was a success for you - and I am sure you are a new company that has not already sunk thousands of dollars into your marketing, sales, advertising, pr and trade shows. Being that I have been around over 5 years and seen the good the bad the ugly - I can nor warrant spending another $6-7 K on a show that picks up 12 tiny boutiques in little cities across the country. Some products are also better suited for shows, some (mine obviously) are better sold other ways. Glad the show is a success for you - but I am curious if you are going back this year? And did you make back all the money you spent?

This is my first year at the show, going tomorrow. I have a new company, Infamous Baby, that has really unique clothing, carseat covers, diaper cakes, and other stuff. So I'm hoping that since we carry a little different style of items that the show will be worth it. But I will let you all know.

We are a new company with a new product and we also attended the 2008 trade show. I will say that it was worth it only because I spent the money and it is a hard nut to swallow thinking that the money would have served better elsewhere.

In all honesty, if I could do it again, I would have produced my product to manufacture Reps, done some print advertisement, approached Internet retailers and been a stronger advocate to mom based web sites and blogs before introducing an unknown product. With so much time standing around waiting for a slim audience, I learned a great deal of what my next step should be or what I have done prior to the show, a costly lesson but I did walk away with a better understanding of what must be done!

Will I do the show again? I will do the show again provided that my booth location is not in the boonies, extra time is given branding my product and I have a successful track record of sales under my belt.

I think everyone at the show aspires to land “a big fish” but the big guys first question is always, “what chain are you currently with”? I think it is very important that every retailer knows your name or your product before they set foot in any tradeshow. Lesson learned.

The attendance of the trade show (buyers), from what I was told, was about 40% less than the past year, I guess that this could be chalked up with a slow economy, smaller shops closing their doors.

Glad I found this link. I'm the production manager for the ABC Kids Expo and have worked on the show since its inception and launch in 2003. 2008 was our 6th year and we are already planning for 2009.

I'm most interested in comments from Miranda and David as it appears both were exhibitors at our 2008 show.

David, your comments are interesting concerning the e-tailers or e-marketers. I have spoken to several following the show and they feel they were made to feel un-welcome by the exhibitors at our event.

Also would be interested to know what or who was your source concerning attendance. All of our statistics (including the RFID badges we used to track actual attendance and shopping patterns) indicate that we had an increase in year over year growth of the number of retail stores in attendance and the number of buyers representing the stores.

Miranda any thoughts?

If you wish to discuss I can be reached through the ABC offices.

Glad I found this link. I'm the production manager for the ABC Kids Expo and have worked on the show since its inception and launch in 2003. 2008 was our 6th year and we are already planning for 2009.

I'm most interested in comments from Miranda and David as it appears both were exhibitors at our 2008 show.

David, your comments are interesting concerning the e-tailers or e-marketers. I have spoken to several following the show and they feel they were made to feel un-welcome by the exhibitors at our event.

Also would be interested to know what or who was your source concerning attendance. All of our statistics (including the RFID badges we used to track actual attendance and shopping patterns) indicate that we had an increase in year over year growth of the number of retail stores in attendance and the number of buyers representing the stores.

Miranda any thoughts?

If you wish to discuss I can be reached through the ABC offices.

children's programs are the best, you enjoy as much as they hang out!

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