Journey of an indie brand at tradeshows Part 2

We have done a few more events since we wrote part 1 which you can find here. I’m going to share some of the insights that we learned from the last couple of events we attended.

Location,location,location

  • Location is such a huge factor when vending at an event. Location can mean the difference between having a lot of sales, a few sales, or no sales at all. Even if you have a brick and mortar store, location can mean the difference between your business striving or closing down your doors in a few months. If you get to the venue early and have first dibs on where you can set up, ask where all the action is going to be. Set up where the most traffic will be flowing, where your brand could get the most eyes and attention. If you’re an up and comer, the more known brands will get the prime spots if the host is designating them. If you do get a bad spot make the most of it. If you can, hang tees or signage up high where people can view it from a distance.

Vendor fees and other expenses

  • Contact whoever is spearheading the event and ask them if there is a table/vendor fee, never assume it’ll be free. If the event is free, even though not mandatory giving merchandise to the host is a great gesture.  If the event is out of town calculate how much gas, food, and accommodations will be. Table fees have ranged from being free to $250. It varies from event to event. Bigger, more well known events will warrant a bigger fee.

Promotional items

  • It’s not a mystery, people love free stuff. When someone approaches the table we’ll hand out things like flyers, stickers, and buttons. We noticed the buttons were a favorite at events. 90% of people that got a button would put it on their clothing, hats, or backpacks immediately after receiving it. With flyers we opt for a post card sized print. There’s nothing wrong with bigger flyers, but with the postcard sized flyers it’s easier to put it in your back pocket for later.  We just ordered more stickers from555Stickers to giveaway at events and to use them on our packaging.

Timing

  • You’ll usually want to be at the venue 1-2 hours before doors open.  Hosts don’t want guests coming in while vendors are bringing in boxes of merchandise. Get there early and take your time to set up properly.  Be prepared to be at the event for the entire length. Most events we’ve done have been 8-12 hours which includes getting to the venue 2 hours early.  I always say it’s better to work for your business any day than work 8-12 hours for someone else.

Setting up

  • I’ve been fortunate enough to have my brother or my partner there to help me set up. If you’re going solo make things easier by making a checklist of everything you need. Get things that have wheels on them, for example a moving dollie or getting a canopy that has wheels when packaged. Another good tip is putting everything in bins to make everything easier to transport.

Presentation

  • A lesson we learned the hard way which should’ve been common sense was using a table cloth. Putting a table cloth on the table will make it look more professional and presentable. Nobody wants to see the bare table with wear and tear.  Another thing we learned the hard way which should’ve been common sense is signage. People are visual and they’ll forget the name of your brand unless they see it all over the table.  Have your tees front and center. Sprinkle promotional items on the table and encourage people to take one. Have signage up pre-printed or hand written on how much everything cost.

Selling

  • Have the tees accessible for when someone wants to make a purchase.  Taking a long time trying to find the tee will sometimes make the customer change their mind. If you have a process on how you package your tees get the money first. Make sure to carry loose bills for change and get a Square card reader. Sales are extremely important in this business but interact with people, interact with other vendors, people working the event.  Making connections and relationships with people are just as important as making the sale.

Have fun promoting your brand. Remember the brands on top right now did exactly what we’re doing now. They kept pushing and didn’t quit.


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About Mario Elizondo

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Born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. Loud Silence was birthed from the love of music and urban culture. Run the brand along with being an audio engineer and music producer.

  • Lemniscate Apparel

    Great follow up to part one. Your writing has a really good flow. Great tip about giving the host some free merchandise, it makes perfect sense but I don’t think I would have thought of it.

  • Thanks Lemniscate Apparel! On the last question we’ve been caught off guard with not bringing enough inventory and missing out on sales. It’s always better to bring more inventory and not need it than the other way around.

    If we didn’t bring there size I would sell it to them anyway and ship it to them (:x)

  • At the same time, be careful not to print too much merch for an event thinking you are going to sell it all. I’ve seen lines go to something like bamboozle and place a merch order for $10,000 worth of product. Then end up only selling about $2000 worth of merch and then can’t pay for it.

  • We haven’t done any festivals to that degree. I was meaning more on bringing majority of the inventory you already have printed (:x)