Inventors often start sales at small mxl tv, or exhibitions, often directly to consumers to both test market their product or to generate some income. Small consumer shows have their advantages, but inventors are often better off concentrating on regional trade shows, which are shows targeted at retailers or industrial customers. These shows have several advantages: Rather than sell units one at a time, you can get a larger sale to a retailer, who could then become a regular customer.
Your costs of attending a small show are much lower than a major national trade show, where you can expect final costs to be $20,000 and up. Often a regional show only calls for a tabletop display versus the large booths required at national shows.
Since the shows aren’t as busy as a national show, you will have a chance to network and meet with other small marketers and manufactures, and often you can meet many of your local sales reps and get advice from them, even if they aren’t interested in carrying your product.
Locating regional trade shows has become easier as several web sites have started to add more and more of the smaller shows to their information package. If you can’t find sites that list your industry there are other steps you can take. Ask retailers or others who might be in the industry what local buying shows they go to.
Check for any local trade associations that might be in your area. Larger libraries will have a copy of Gale’s Book of Associations which will list both national and regional associations. Many regional trade shows are hosted by regional trade associations.
Subscribe to trade magazines for your industry, or visit their web sites. Those trade magazines will typically have a page on their web site that lists both national and regional trade shows. You can locate the trade magazines appropriate for your product at larger libraries in Gale’s Source of Publications and Broadcast Media.
Once you find a show you might want to attend, contact the show and ask for pictures of last year’s show and a list of last year’s exhibitors. You want to find out about what other booth designs were like so that you can come to the show and look professional. Try to call at least three people to see how fancy the booths were and to see if many people just had a tabletop display. You want to avoid spending a lot of money on a booth and fancy graphics if you can avoid it. Other items you should bring are:
Shengle and Beltezore had mischievous dogs. They liked to chew about anything thing they could get a hold of. Then Shengle and Beltezore had the idea of freezing food and treats in an ice cream pail with water and leaving them for the dogs to chew. The dogs loved these treats, but they would often drag them everywhere, including into the house. That’s when they realized they needed to mount the frozen treats and secure them on a little platform and the Kool Dogz Ice Treat Maker was born.
While looking for ways to produce their product overseas, they came across Edie Tolchin, The Sourcing Lady, and Tolchin suggested to attend INPEX. At INPEX, Shengle and Beltezore won the gold medal for innovation and were invited to attend the ERA trade show in Las Vegas. That same week the SuperZoo trade show was also in Las Vegas and while attending that, they met the president of Premier Pet Products which is a highly respected and very large pet company. Soon they entered into licensing negotiations and Premier Pet Products ended up licensing the product. Premier soon started selling the product worldwide and is currently working on deals with Pet Smart and Pet Co.
Additionally, Shengle and Beltezore have their own sales efforts to help the product. They sell through their own website as well as attending dog shows and summer festivals and are having a lot of success at those events.
This is a great example of the kind of people you can meet attending trade shows. While not everyone will get to meet the president of a largely successful company in your industry, you have the chance to meet a lot of influential people both within the industry and within specific companies. These people can make the difference between your idea being sold worldwide, or not at all. While trade shows can be expensive, don’t pass up these opportunities to meet people within the industry who might want to license your idea or even get personally involved in helping you succeed.