BBWO: BLACK BUSINESS WOMEN ONLINE

Hi,

I have a small online business selling and designing custom cards, invitations and more. I'm considering signing up for a local fair marketed for moms. Because I print all my stationery myself, I've been hesitant on attending a show and not selling my items. I was recently contacted to attend a local show and one of the options is to promote my business by showing samples, passing out flyer's, etc from my table, with this option I can not sell my items. I can also add an items to rougly 250 goodie bags and rafle off an item. Sounds great, but I'm wondering if it's worth me doing this. I'm also researching and tipping my toes into selling my items wholesale, still trying to figure out how all that works, but I was thinking that it could also be a good way for other vendors to see my work and perhaps be interested in selling my items.

So my question is, has anyone done any type of fairs only to promote their business, not actually sell their items? Was it worth it to you and did you generate sells from attending?
THANKS!!!
Erika
My MiMi Pie

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Hey Erika, I have worked several local fairs and craft shows. For me it depends on how much it's going to cost you to attend the show. If you only have to pay $25.00 or less for the table to sell your items then I would do it because if you don't sell anything you did not loose a lot of money. Now keep in mind you can still pass out flyers, have people sign a mailing list get creative. On the other hand if you attend a local show and you cannot sell your items, I would do this if I did not have to pay any money. It's good to be a vendor at a fair or show because it will give you an idea how people like your cards. I use to sell cards at a gift shop what came out of that was doing someones wedding. Last ask yourself is this a business or hobby. For me it's more a hobby but at the same time I want to make some money.
Hey Erika, I say do the show. If nothing else, you will be able to promote what you do and add to your mailing list to get a newsletter out to potential customers.

I do local shows for my event planning and travel business and I think that you should never pass up a chance to show the world what you do.

Good luck!
GREAT! Thank you both so much for your advice. The cost is $85 to only promote and $125 to sell. I was feeling OK with $85 because I was looking at it is getting my name out there and passing out flyers. It's definitely a business. I hadn't thought about asking for sign ups for my newsletter...GREAT IDEA!!! Thank you!
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Hi

Trade shows can be tricky. I use to sell black art and I have attended my share of trade shows up and down the east coast. You may just want to attend and pass out your material to the different vendors. Also, ask them how well sales are going. Ask them about other fairs and trade shows they attend. Die -hard vendors travel and do shows all the time. They are usually willing to tell you where they make the most money.

Most people want a deal at trade shows. Items that are $5 to $10 usually sell well.

In addition, check with a few printers to determine the cost of having your stationary professionally printed. Usually, retail stores want a 50% mark-up. So, you will need to make money selling your product at a wholesale price. Have you done any research to determine who your target market is?

Next year, you may want to go to the big Gift and Apparel Show in Atlanta. Check out my website for more information about this year's show. www.parentsofcolornewsletter.com - Look on the Small Biz Tips page.

Let me know how things turn out at the trade show.

Cathy
Hi Erika

Yes, do the Trade show, remember you are in 'business' and that any 'business' is risky. I did one a couple of weeks ago and the return was double, I am doing another one next month and it cost a little more, just always remember you are planting seeds, so don't look at the now, look toward the future, because you are doing today what others won't so you will have tomorrow what others don't.

Janet
I participate in shows every now and then.. would like to do more. Some things I take into consideration before going forward. 1) How many years has this show existed? If the 1st year, you want to really make sure that the event will have the attendance you want. Some events don't get popular until the 2nd and 3rd year. Ask how many vendors have signed up? If the show will be held in an arena and there are only 15 vendors... there may be low attendance as well. 3) Make sure the event is being advertised to the approriate market. Basically ask questions about the event.

I say attend the show if all checks out. You may be able to get wholesale orders from other vendors. I hope all goes well.

Melvina
I, too, Erika, face the same quandary selling my products of purpose (UniTee Shirts) at live events; it is a painful, necessary learning experience at best . . .

I wouldn't pursue promotional opps as they have completely failed me . . .

I would weigh these variables in considering live events where you could sell your products:

Cost of the Event and Travel / Lodging Costs
Anticipated Attendance and Event Duration (One Day or More)
Break - Even Costs and Return on Investment

There is a website that lists the majority of African American events held throughout the country that may be of help (www.ujamaaassociates.com). . .

I hope this information helps you . . .

And, together, let's continue to show the world how beautiful, smart and special our children really are . . .

R. Lee Gordon
UniTee Design, Inc. / The Better Detroit Youth Movement
www.uniteedesign.com / www.betterdetroityouth.org
rgordon@uniteedesign.com / rgordon@betterdetroityouth.org
Toll Free: 888.OUR.RBG.TEES / 313.516.8384
Thank you all very much for your suggestions and advice. I'm really glad I reached out for opinions rather than simply going forward. You've made some great suggestions and pointed out key elements I need to consider.

I still haven't decided, although I'm leaning towards attending. It's definitely my target audience, moms, and as suggested, it can definitely be a way for me to invest in future orders. Most of my orders are custom invitations, which I love doing.

Thank you also for the tips about printing. I've really taken pride in doing all my own printing and have invested in that. However, I was also considering professional printing company's as I move forward. I plan to take my business far! ; ) Just as we all do!

Thank you all so much!
Erika
If you can sell I would sell. At least then people have the opportunity to see the quality of work that you do.
Hi Erika, Just wanted to reach out and try to assist you with a networking tip. Most vendors do go to events expecting to profit financially and that is all good and fine and they should, however there is more to networking than making the profit at every event. In networking to build and grow your business so that you will have continuous financial flow, it is important to make connects that would allow for that in the future of your business. After every event / show etc...it is not over when you leave...the show is still going on. Here is a follow up tip to assist you in your efforts. If you know how to work an event or tradeshow, it is always worth attending, especially if it was a good one.
I recommend that you make you an information sheet, if you don't already have one. After you leave the event, you can follow-up with an email to everyone that stopped by your booth and offer a for sale only products to those that participated in that event...so your email would let them know that these items are on sale to them just because they attended the fair and then you could offer the product at a reduced price. You could also offer a referral program to them also...or an affiliate program. You could even have your information sheet already complete with the question as to their interest in 1. being added to your mailing list, 2. your referral program, 3. your affiliate program. Everyone is looking to make a few dollars here and there. This way, when you leave, you would know who was interested in what. Even if you were going to do wholesale, you could work that event to leave there with a slew of people to continue to grow your business. I guess, I would say, to ask also on the sheet, if they were interested in a biz opportunity with your business. If you get one yes....and it works through...that event was worth it even though you did not sale 1 thing.

I hope this helps you a little bit. Just remember, the show does not end when the event ends. It continues for as long as you can continue to drive it. Be creative...It's your world and you can make the outcome as you want it...Follow up is everything and it should be done within 24-48 hours.. I understand that this message may have come after the event mention, but you can use it for future events.

Also know that Black Vendors Network is currently looking for business owners that would like to vend and showcase their products and services at discounted rates. You could save anywhere from 5-50% on events. If you are interested in those services and would like to become a member. Join us at www.blackvendors.ning.com

.

Charlene
Erika,

Trade shows and exhibits come in various shapes and sizes, just like people. For me, networking in any event and capacity is a win-win situation. Vendor booths can get expensive and if you have high overhead or operating costs, then weighing the pros and cons for participating in a show. I am currently planning a Bridal Show, where the goal is to promote vendors in various wedding categories. I say, do the show and then more people will be exposed to you and your product. HTH.

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