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by Julie Tu

There many different ways to grow your business to where you want it to be. There are the active pursuits, the planted seeds, or one-button clicks, but one of our favourite ways and most fun we might add, are trade shows! Don’t get us wrong, organizing and planning shows are a lot of work, but the return on investment, the new Henkaanistas you meet, and the experience you get, makes everything worth it.

Here are a few tips to help you plan a roadmap to success for your next trade show:

1. Get friendly with the show coordinator
The show coordinator is your key to making sure you have a successful show. They will think of you when a bigger and better booth opens up, give you a better spot in the fashion show lineup, and will be way more flexible the next time you book with them. Make sure you communicate in a timely manner, are always pleasant, and be open and honest with your needs. If you can’t make a payment deadline, let them know. 9 times out of 10, they’re willing to work with you.

2. Find the perfect spot and let your creativity shine
A huge part of the planning process is determining your booth set-up and ensuring you have a good, visible spot on the floor. From our experience, the best booth type is a corner booth - this will almost always be an extra surcharge, but we found that the ample space ultimately drives customers. This allows for open space on both sides which gives customers more flexibility and room to come into your booth, build a connection with the display, and gives you a chance to talk to them about your business.
Try to book the booth early so you have dibs on high traffic areas.  Anything along the side of the walls are usually less busy, so avoid those booths if possible. The ideal ones are near the fashion show stage, or by the entrance.  Put yourself in the attendee's shoes, how tired do you think they'll be by the time they get to your booth?

We've come a long way from our first few trade shows, but we’ve learnt through experience that simple is key.  Here are a few display items you can use to maximize your space, and utilize the valuable interaction you will get from leads:

  • A highboy or bistro table
    • You will need an access point for customers to sign things or a good, high vantage point to display marketing materials
    • This should be put in the outside corner of the booth to direct the eye line towards the booth’s center 
  • A television with an endless loop of the “21 ways to wear the Sakura Convertible Dress”
    • This is an attention grabber. Place this TV at the back of your booth on an expedite/shelving and you will see how many people stop and simply stare. You’ll be surprised that there are still customers out there who don’t know about Henkaa, and this video will be your ticket to getting them as hooked as we are! This large display will reel in people walking down the aisles and even other vendors around you.
  • 2 or 3 mannequins
    • Style and wrap our dresses in different styles for the mannequins. Display our most popular colours according to the upcoming season. For example, if it is a Fall show - try using pastel tones as most visitors will be attending the show for summer wedding ideas. Also, don’t forget that you are the best mannequin of all! Wear your favourite style and just watch how many people will stop and ask you where your dress is from - a bonus!
  • Product showcase
    • Our Lenaa™ fabric comes in a wide range of colours that brides want to see. Try using a garment rack to make a colour waterfall with our sashes. Future Henkaanistas get excited visualizing their entire entourage in their favourite colours. 

3. Maximizing your attendee interaction
Like bears with honey, it’s always great to have an enticing factor to sustain a client’s attention and make them remember you. Free swag usually works, as long it’s useful ( BPA-free reusable water bottles, branded recyclable bags…). Printed banner pens have been a huge success for us. You can jam pack them with information that will always be on the customer!

  • Raffle Prize
    • Always host a raffle draw and give out a juicy prize - a Sakura Midi ;)
    • Make sure to collect useful information on the ballots: full name, phone number, wedding date, number of bridesmaids and wedding colour
    • These ballots are the key to success! They are the fruits of your labour and contain valuable information and access to leads that you wouldn’t otherwise have
  • Marketing Materials/Handouts
    • Have a postcard-sized brochure to give away. It should consist of necessary information, a website, as well as contact information

4. Hit the Runway!
If there is an opportunity to participate in a Fashion Show, go for it. There is usually an extra cost but the benefit of having a huge crowd of potential customers seeing the dresses on real models will be a huge value-add to the success of the show. The MC will announce your booth as the models work the runway and the leads will flock to the booth soon after!

4. The Follow-up
The ballots you receive at the show are the seeds that need to be nurtured in order to flourish. Start by putting them into a spreadsheet sort them by wedding date. Compile an email (you can always ask Henkaa HQ for help) to announce the winner of the raffle contest you’ve hosted. Take the opportunity to include the benefits and reasons why ConvertiStyle dresses are a bride's best bet for bridesmaids dresses and beyond! After the initial email, start to grow your lead list.  Contact each lead and thank them for meeting you at the show turn them from a lead, to a lifelong customer.  Some leads can take time and require more than one call, and others are set right away.  Gauge by their tone, interest level, and map them on where they are on the sales development process.  Most importantly, have fun with the interaction! You've met them, you've piqued their interest, and now it's time to turn that interest into a sale!



Julie Tu
Julie Tu

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