How to Survive Trade Show Season: Brand & Retailer Guide

It’s official, Resort market week just ended in New York and we’re upon trade show season. If you’re participating in a trade show, you might be wondering what you need to do to ensure your success this season. If you’re a new retailer you might be getting nervous at the thought of having to place orders for a season you aren’t even in yet! This guide is for both of you: the retailer and the brand.

Let’s start with brands.

Maximizing your strategy at a trade show requires a heavy dose of outreach about 4 weeks out of the event. You need to start by putting together your list of boutiques that you want to be pitching to, I suggest a list of about 250 nationally, plus your international retailers.

Next, make sure your sales toolkit is strong. That means: pitch emails, postcards, lookbooks, line lists, order forms, your website, Instagram…. This sales kit is what you’re going to be sending and representing your brand with over the next 8 weeks. You have 4 weeks before the trade show and 4-6 weeks after to keep following up. Then you will revert to your normal correspondence and relationship building with buyers. You should plan to be emailing buyers weekly, and following up with postcards and phone calls leading up to the trade show.

While at the trade show you cannot expect buyers to come find you. You need to plan your arsenal with postcards, a model or a friend to walk around the trade show in your clothes promoting your brand. You should also be networking like crazy! Aside from any industry related talks you might be attending, you should be on the outlook for your next brand collaborator and keeping an eye on your competitors. What do they say about keeping your enemies closer? Yeah, do that. After all, you’re all in it together, so make friends.