We recently exhibited at the Autumn Quilt Festival for the first time. Although we had done some research beforehand, we picked up some very useful hints and tips and learnt a few things to make it even easier next time. Here are a few of the main tips we will be remembering for our next exhibition.
1. Do Your Research.
Find out if the event has been held before and how popular it has been. Look at how many visitors it usually attracts and how the event marketed to reach the visiting public. Some larger venues give you this information in their booking brochure. We think it's a good idea to visit the event as a customer before committing to exhibit yourself, you could speak to other stallholders for their advice too.
2. Be Prepared.
Find out as much information about the exhibition as possible in advance. Be prepared with set up times, e.g. when you will have time to restock, when you can go to set up. Find out if there will be a food hall or whether you need to take lunch. Also, how accessible is the venue and where you will need to drive on the day with your equipment.
3. Portable Furniture.
Make your display equipment as portable as possible. If you can use collapsible or flat pack furniture you will have more space in your vehicle for stock and it will be much easier to move from transport to the venue and back again.
4. Portable Stock.
As with furniture, if you can pack your stock well in reusable packaging, it will make transporting it much quicker easier. We took all of our fabric wrapped in bin bags but we saw other stall holders with strong zipped bags which they had numbered and reuse every time they exhibit. We will definitely be doing this next time! Others had metal cages which they stacked their bags and boxes up in to easily transport the stock from vehicle to venue.
5. Eye-level Display.
Customers are looking at your display as they walk past and decide whether to stop and look at your stall. Make sure your best items are at eye-level so that they attract visitors to come and have a closer look at your display. Customers do not want to be bending down to look at things at a low level and will probably not notice them as they breeze past your stall.
6. Create Height.
Another way of attracting people to your stall is to display your items with some height. You could use crates, ladders or small chairs on a table to maximise your display area.
7. Practise Run.
It is a good idea to set up your stall ahead of the exhibition. With a practise run, you can see what your stall will look like on the day, whether you need anything to add to your display and how your goods can be displayed to their best effect. Once you are happy with it you can take a couple of photos to refer to and it will take you much less time to set up on the day.
This is a really important one. You will want your branding to be visible everywhere. We had our name and logo on price tags, in frames, on the wall, on our mugs, business cards and on our bags. All of this was dotted around our whole stall. for visitors to see. This will help people to remember who you are and they will be more likely to come back to you for follow up sales and enquiries.
9. Collect email addresses.
You could do this in a number of ways but however you do it, email addresses are so valuable because this is how you will stay in contact with your new customers and show that what you have to offer long after the exhibition has finished. We chose to run a competition to win a fabric bundle but you could do something similar or even just have a sheet of paper asking people to leave their email addresses to subscribe.
10. Make Friends!
The most fun part of any exhibition is making friends with all your visitors and other stall holders. We met so many lovely people, we heard a lot of stories which gave us inspiration for our own sewing, we laughed a lot and we got to know other stall holders who had been exhibiting for years and shared some of their experience with us.
We hope this gives you some idea in preparation of your first exhibition. Good Luck!