Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

Flea Market Business Success: Organize Operations

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Organize your Operations

While in the early days of your business selling as much as you can during each flea market day may be enough, you need to become organized and strategic about your operations in order to grow your business to its full potential.

  • Keep track of accounts and customer records: A simple notebook to write down your sales may be enough at first, but it is much easier to keep track of sales and inventory with proper software such as Intuit or Quicken, as well as CRM’s (Customer Relationship Management) softwares. A CRM would allow you to collect your customers’ data (such as email address, phone number or even home address) so you can then market to them outside of flea market opening times.
  • Keep inventory records: Make sure you know how much you bought of something, how fast you sold it and what your profitability was. This will allow you to make faster and more educated purchasing decisions down the line, and you’ll be able to pull up sales information for an item quickly and easily.
  • Take advantage of technology and tools: If you only accept cash or check payments, consider accepting credit card payments. This will make it easier to close sales with customers who may not be carrying enough money in cash. Consider obtaining a merchant service account with your bank, and take advantage of Smartphone applications for Credit Card processing. iPhones and other Android based phones now have the ability to charge and process credit card payments on the spot without the need for a credit card machine.

How to Source Wholesale Merchandise for a Flea Market or Resale Business

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Source Merchandise Efficiently

If you are just starting out, you may not be very familiar with the different ways in which you can source products for your business. Here are a few starting points:

  • Trade Shows: Visit wholesale industry trade shows to meet companies face-to-face, negotiate deals in person and take advantage of a huge scope of products all under one roof. You can typically source everything you need in one visit to a trade show, from several vendors. For a list of closeout industry trade shows, visit the Association of Surplus Dealers online.
  • Internet searches: A simple Google search for “wholesale products” or other similar terms will yield a slew of results. When browsing through company websites, make sure to look for wholesalers who own and warehouse their own inventory if possible. In many cases, wholesalers who do not own their own inventory are brokers, or middle-men, and you can often overpay for products versus working directly with the wholesalers who own the products. If possible, choose a wholesaler you can visit in person to inspect the goods prior to making your first purchase until you are comfortable.
  • Trade Magazines and B2B Websites: There are many printed sources and wholesale search engines dedicated to helping businesses find product. Some of these publications include: Retailer’s Forum, Swap Meet Magazine, Independent Retailer, Solo Mayoreo (Spanish), Web Wholesaler, Western/Eastern Merchandiser and more. Popular B2B sourcing websites include: TopTen Wholesale, CloseoutCentral and WholesaleCentral. These search engines allow you to enter a search term and find wholesalers nationwide who can provide you with those products.

A Retail & Wholesale Success Story

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Check out Via Trading’s latest Customer Success Story!

A Community’s Needs Met Leads to Increased Profits: A Retail Success Story

One of the key factors that contributes to the success of a new business venture is the ability to identify an opportunity and fill an untapped niche. Glen Rundell of Specialz Outlet in North Carolina embraced this idea, and here is his story.

Until about a year ago, Rundell had spent several years in the real estate industry, dabbling in both the sale and construction of residential and commercial property. As the economy and housing markets continued to decline, he began looking for other opportunities in late 2010. A life-long entrepreneur, Rundell wanted to provide a product or service at a great value when people were most concerned about how they spent their hard-earned dollars…

Read more on our website!

Good Merchandising in a Retail Store = More Sales!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Merchandising Tips for Discount Stores

  • An attractive storefront is important! Make sure the entrance entices people to come in, has a clear “entrance” sign and is clean and welcoming.
  • Make use of your store windows. Ensure you use them to communicate what you sell, any promotions you’re running, discounts you’re offering and other messages (like opening hours). Change your messages up at least twice a month to avoid the perception that you have nothing new to offer.
  • Organize merchandise by the category whenever possible to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for.
  • When laying out your store, put similar/relevant items near each other. For example, if you’re selling beds or mattresses, put your bedding and linen items in the same section of your store. This will help you up-sell and get the most out of each customer’s visit. “Buying a mattress? Check out our bed-in-bag sets to go with your new mattress!”
  • Place your pricing sticker in the same area on each product. This creates consistency and allows your customers to find the price easily.
  • Use a simple dating system to help you determine how long products are sitting in your store before they sell. For example, use a letter and number format like A, B, C for the months and 1, 2, 3 for the days of the month. An item marked A1 would then have been in your store since January 1st. This will allow you to quickly see what has been in the store for too long so you can discount it and make room for new items.
  • Clear the aisles. Make it easy for customers to walk through the aisles without any hindrance – blocked aisles result in no-go areas and lost sales.
  • Walk the store as if you were a customer. Do you bang into merchandise or displays? Is merchandise hard to reach? Is it difficult to find what you want? If so, make the necessary changes.
  • Purchase retail displays for small merchandise. Instead of dumping small items into bins that customers have to rummage through, consider purchasing retail displays on which to hang the items to make them more attractive AND easier to see for your customers.
  • Keep the store clean. Just because these are discounted items doesn’t mean they have to be dirty, dusty and unattractive.
  • Assign sufficient staff to be responsible for merchandising. Making items attractive on the shelves, replenishing shelves once certain items sell out and keeping the store tidy and well laid out is a full time position and requires a hands-on individual. Don’t skimp on the things that make your store attractive to your customers!
  • Put tall items against walls so that they don’t block the view throughout your store.
  • Keep items within arms’ reach. Stacking shelves too high with merchandise is not only potentially hazardous, but it can also result in customers not buying certain items because they physically can’t reach them.
  • Eye level is buy level! Keep a note of your best selling items and place them at eye level on the shelves.
  • Choose an area inside your store to put your clearance items and keep that space consistently. Return customers will know to go look there for new great deals on clearance items.
  • Use signage to communicate key messages like discounts. Use signage also to define merchandise categories in your store. You can hang those from the ceiling or put them on sign holders, but give your customers an easy to way to know what is where inside the store.
  • Use small shelf signage to communicate product-specific messages. Shelf signage can be placed on specific shelves to communicate something about that exact product.
  • Put smaller items and low priced items near the checkout counter to encourage impulse buys!
  • Stage the merchandise where feasible. For example, use mannequins to display clothing, dress beds with sheets/pillows/comforters. The more customers are able to visualize how the item may look in their home, the more likely they are to buy it.
  • Separate clothing by men, women and children and organize it by size – all size Small on one rack, all size Medium on another rack, etc.
  • Offer baskets or shopping carts to help customers carry merchandise. If you offer no carrying solution, customers will purchase only what they are able to hold in their hands.
  • Make the shopping experience pleasant! Make sure your store is at a comfortable temperature with sufficient lighting. An uncomfortable experience can lead to customers cutting their visits short.
  • Take one item out of its box to show your customers what the actual item looks like (and to avoid them opening boxes themselves).
  • Take advantage of loss leaders to bring in additional traffic into your store. A loss leader is a product sold at a low price (at cost or sometimes below cost) to stimulate other profitable sales.
  • Train your staff on product knowledge so that they are better able to answer any questions customer may have.
  • Ensure your staff greets customers pleasantly and let them know they’re available to help if need.
  • Invest in a retail Point of Sale system that can provide you with a detailed sales analysis to enable you to know what sells and what merchandise is lagging in sales.
  • Tips for Selling Products at Flea Markets!

    Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

    By Robert Cyr

    Consider the various flea markets available to you. Depending on where you are geographically, you may have access to specialized flea market events as well as more general flea markets. It can oftentimes be much more profitable to sell at specialty markets, rather than general markets where anything goes. The types of specialized flea markets that are available include: arts and crafts, antiques, clothing and accessories and more. So if you’re located in an area where flea markets abound, take the time to do research and see if you can find some that are dedicated to the kind of products you’re trying to sell.

    An easy way to find flea markets in your area is to visit greatfleamarket.com

    On your mark, get set, go… Having a booth in close proximity to the entrance can help you increase sales since you’ll get more exposure than more remote booths, especially if it is a large market. If buyers need to walk past your booth (well, hopefully they’ll actually stop at it) on both their way in and way out, you will definitely improve your chances for sales relative to other booths that a buyer may only see once and potentially forget about. Furthermore, be ready to sell as soon as the doors open – it is said that the first hour and the last hour of flea markets are when vendors should expect to make the bulk of their earnings.

    Keep your table full! If your table starts to look a little sparse, it will turn buyers off as nobody wants to feel like their buying picked over merchandise. Having your merchandise organized beforehand will allow you to easily replenish the products as they begin to sell. You may not need to have all of it out at one time, but it is a good idea to keep your booth stocked throughout the day. An empty booth and sparse tables will turn potential buyers away. A colorful, well-stocked, professional looking table is much more appealing to buyers than one which looks like its on its last legs.

    Leave some space! Have you ever been to a flea market where you were bumped and squeezed against the table as foot traffic tried to get by? If people are uncomfortable when they are browsing they will be less likely to stick around and buy, so make sure that your potential customers have room to comfortably view the merchandise without being run over by other customers.

    Plan an adequate supply of money as well, so start the day with plenty of change! Don’t rely on change from your early sales to make enough change for later sales, as that usually doesn’t work out. Ensure that you have at least a few hundred in twenties, tens fives and so on, as well as at least ten dollars in the various coins. When you do it this way, you will be confident in your ability to make change for any transaction.

    All merchandise needs to display a clear price.
    While many folks who shop at flea markets will prefer to haggle, they would also like to know the “starting point”. If you fail to tag certain items with a price, you may find that you lose sales as it will scare off some buyers who speculate the price is higher than it actually is. Tags and pricing signs should look new and sharp as reused or less-than-presentable tags will make the products appear of similarly substandard quality.

    Offer a deal – “I’ll give that to you at 10 percent off” “Buy two and you can have thirty percent off”. Leave wiggle room so that you can make such statements – this forces the prospective buyer to communicate with you (whether it’s a ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ response) and can help turn casual browsers into actual customers.

    Check out the competition – If you’re selling t-shirts for ten dollars, but another vendor is selling similar t-shirts for half that, who do you think is going to get the sales? Make sure to take time to scope out the competition (or have a helper do it) to make sure you’re not pricing yourself out of the market.

    Lastly, don’t forget the bags. Hopefully you’ll start with lots at the beginning of the day and very few at the end!

    How to Track Social Media with Google Analytics

    Friday, April 8th, 2011

    If you have a website, you’re probably already connected to social media sites and if you are not, you should be!! The next most important thing after having a social media presence is to track the success of that presence and to find out exactly what it is bringing you in terms of traffic and revenue. Claudia Bruemmer of Top Ten Wholesale teaches us what we need to know about tracking social media using Google Analytics in the following article.

    Tracking Social Media Campaigns with Google Analytics

    by Claudia Bruemmer

    Now that social media is so popular, with sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube leading the way, many wholesalers and retailers are using social media marketing tactics to drive traffic and conversions resulting in a better ROI. But how many of you are tracking your results for effectiveness? If your site has been up for a while, you can use your Google Analytics (GA) data to identify key metrics to monitor your campaign for efficacy.

    Your historical data can help you identify the best targets for your social media efforts. First, you need to identify key metrics to track in your social media campaigns. Then, set up benchmarks with custom reports. Lastly, you derive benchmarks for key metrics to be measured in your social media campaigns. You can later compare your social media campaign traffic and revenue to that received from other search marketing campaigns, directory listings, etc.

    Identify Key Metrics. Select a time period when your site was generating a lot of revenue. This will serve as your base period to measure campaign results against. Then select some meaningful metrics that are relevant to your business success. For instance, if you select “number of site visits” and “revenue,” you can correlate the number of visits required to reach a specific daily revenue goal.

    Set Benchmarks with Custom Reports. To set benchmarks, you can overlay chosen metric graphs in GA. Depending on the metrics previously selected (number of site visits and revenue), you can use the ‘Compare two metrics’ option in Google Analytics. When you select that option, GA allows you to overlay six basic metrics (visits, pageviews, pages/visit, avg. time on site, bounce rate and % new visits. Since you can’t overlay “visits” against “revenue,” you can create a custom report, which is easy to set up. In your custom report, you can add other dimensions if you wish (source, keyword, product, etc.).

    Deriving Benchmarks for Site Visits and Revenue. Your Custom Report on Visits and Revenue can help you decide on the approximate daily revenue and number of visitors required to meet your future campaign goals based on your previous benchmark period. Let’s say your lowest revenue during that period was $200 a day with 65 visits. Google Analytics will show that dollar amount on a specific date with the number of visits to make that revenue. So you can establish $200 as your minimum acceptable daily revenue. Then look for a high figure on another date during the benchmark period. Say you made $450 on another specific date and had 90 visitors. This gives you the revenue and number of visits you want to achieve or exceed in your future social media campaign.

    By looking at the stats during your benchmark period, you identified the maximum and minimum number of visitors that produced revenue highs and lows, allowing you to deduce that the number of visitors required to achieve specific revenue goals.

    Low: 65 visitors – $200/day – lower end minimum acceptable revenue benchmark

    High: 90 visitors – $450/day – higher end of revenue benchmark (number you would seek to achieve or exceed in social media campaign)

    The above example was very simple. Wholesalers can conduct more complex analyses in Google Analytics or with GA apps that simplify the tasks. For instance, Unilyzer (http://www.unilyzer.com/) collects, stores, trends and presents web traffic from GA and stats from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Digg. You can also enable fanpage tracking if you establish fanpage profiles in GA. Unilyzer compares metrics for traffic from social media channels to traffic from all sources (organic, paid search, etc.) and compares metrics for each social media network so you can determine where your best traffic is coming from and focus your efforts there for the best ROI. You can get a 7-day free trial without a credit card. Pricing is $7/month for Unilizer Lite, $24/month Unilizer Pro and $49/month Unilizer Premium.

    Now’s the Time for Sourcing Wholesale Sunglasses

    Thursday, March 10th, 2011

    Now’s the Time for Sourcing Wholesale Sunglasses

    by Claudia Bruemmer

    With so many bright, sunny days ahead in spring and summer, it’s the season for buying wholesale sunglasses,  caps and sun visors. Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but did you know they are also necessary for good eye health? Doctors give two reasons for wearing sunglasses: health and comfort.

    From a health standpoint, it’s important to keep all ultraviolet light from getting into your eyes or on your eyelids and the skin around them. For comfort and vanity, we know it’s not a good idea to squint. Your eyes are sensitive to brightness and glare. By cutting down on glare, your vision is better when you’re driving or doing anything else outdoors. But besides all that, sunglasses can be a great fashion statement. They make you look cool and add pizzazz to any outfit. Ever notice how movie stars always wear sunglasses?

    Protecting the skin around your eyes with UV-filtering sunglasses is a good way to prevent skin cancer. From a comfort perspective, polarized lenses are very effective for blocking glare. However, they can be inhibiting for people playing golf and other outdoor sports.

    It is smart to look for sunglasses that block out 99 percent of ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays.  While purchasing your sunglasses from a doctor’s office will guarantee getting a pair of sunglasses that are effective in protecting your eyes from ultraviolet rays, some low-cost sunglasses are also effective in screening out ultraviolet rays. Below are the top five reasons for wearing sunglasses and tips for healthy eyes.

    Top Five Reasons for Wearing Sunglasses

    1. 1. UV Protection. The sun’s UV radiation can cause cataracts, benign growths on the eye’s surface and snow blindness, which is temporary but painful sunburn of the eye’s surface. Wide-brimmed hats, visors and caps can block about 50 percent of UV radiation from your eyes but for complete protection, you need sunglasses.
    2. 2. Skin Cancer. Cancer of the eyelids and skin around the eyes is more common than you would think. People should wear sunglasses outdoors whether they are working, playing sports, taking a walk, running errands, driving or any time they’re out in the sun.
    3. 3. Macular Degeneration Protection. Long-term exposure to the blue and violet portion of the solar spectrum has been implicated as a risk factor for macular degeneration, especially for individuals that are sensitive to the sun.
    4. 4. Comfortable Vision. The sun’s brightness and glare interferes with comfortable vision and a person’s ability to see clearly by causing squinty, watery eyes.
    5. 5. Dark Adaptation. If you spend 2 or 3 hours in bright sunlight, this can hamper your eyes’ ability to adapt quickly to indoor and nighttime light levels. This makes it hazardous to drive at night after spending the whole day in the sun without protection.

    Tips for Healthy Eyes

    1. 1. Wear sunglasses any time your eyes are exposed to UV light, even on cloudy days and in winter.
    2. 2. Buy quality sunglasses that offer good protection. Sunglasses should block out 99 percent of both UVA and UVB radiation and screen out 75 to 90 percent of visible light.
    3. 3. Buy only sunglasses with lenses that are color matched and free of distortion and other imperfections.
    4. 4. Purchase gray-colored lenses. Grey reduces light intensity without altering the color of objects in the environment, thus providing a natural color vision.
    5. Ensue your children have protective sunglasses as they typically spend more time outdoors than adults. Even babies can be fitted with baby sunglasses.

    Tip for wholesale sunglasses buyers: now is the time to source for the best choice of styles and colors as well as delivery in time for the selling season.

    Claudia Bruemmer Bio

    Claudia Bruemmer was the first Managing Editor of ClickZ (1998-2001) and Editor of Search Engine Watch (2007-2008). Claudia’s articles are published on iMediaConnection, Search Engine Guide, BruceClay.com and TopTenWholesale.com. She authored a Fundamentals of Search Engine Marketing course for the Search Engine Marketing Organization (SEMPO) and edited SEMPO’s Advanced Search Engine Marketing courses. Claudia is currently Chief Editor of the TopTenWholesale Newsroom and also freelances in writing and editing online at www.claudiabruemmer.com.

    What Are the Benefits of Buying Online Retailer Loads?

    Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

    Have you ever purchased something online and then returned it because it wasn’t quite what you wanted?

    Online retailer loads are some of the cleanest loads in the industry since in the majority of cases, people return items they buy online just after receiving them and finding out the item is not what they wanted.

    What does this mean for you?

    It means that you would most likely receive:

    • a higher percentage of working items than in a store return load
    • goods that are in overall better condition and generally retail-ready
    • items that are in their original brown shipping boxes, which provides an additional layer of protection for the retail packaging of the items that you don’t get with store returns

    As a result, online retailer loads can be an excellent choice for business who sell their products online and in retail stores.

    What benefits are there to buying online retailer loads?

    • They are typically FULLY MANIFESTED. You know what you’re getting and you can hand-pick the load you want based on what is inside, allowing you to make sure the items will be right for your business and your market.
    • They usually contain a WIDE VARIETY OF ITEMS. One of the tricky things about buying wholesale loads of merchandise is that often times, they will have a higher percentage of one type or category of item that may overload your inventory. A wide variety of items means you can offer more choices to your customers and provide them with a one-stop-shop to find all kinds of items they might need.
    • They are typically CLEANER THAN STORE RETURNS. While you may still need to test and/or repair certain items, the majority may be in unopened boxes, may contain all their parts and may be more resale-ready than store return loads. The less work you need to do, the faster you will start to turn a profit on your investment.
    • They are usually priced at a PERCENTAGE OF RETAIL VALUE. Since they are also manifested, you will know what the original retail value of each item was. This allows you to price your items more effectively, by showing your customers their savings over the original retail value. For example, you may have an item on the load with a $300 retail value. Assuming you paid around 30% of retail value on the load, you will have paid $90 for this item. You can price it at $200, showing your customer that he will be saving $100 off the original price, while you are more than doubling your investment.

    How to Start a New Successful Retail Business of Your Own

    Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

    Successfully Starting a New Retail Biz of Your Very Own
    by Rueben Marley

    Starting a new retail business can be a dream come true for many; and it can also become a real challenge, if the proper steps are not taken to ensure a smooth take off, and efforts made early in the game to increase all likelihood that the initial concept develops into an end result that works for everyone. Planning is key, and even the most ambitious goals can be reduced to a series of processes, if time is taken beforehand to figure things out prior to jumping into a project. Here are some guidelines that will help anyone with their first-time retail mission, with a set of points to consider, in easy steps:

    Is the Law on Your Side?
    Believe it or not, the law is not always there to slow things down or make things difficult for entrepreneurs. In fact, business environments that have a clear-cut and definable set of laws are good, since they make things easy to identify and break down, in the event of a dispute or if your company (hopefully!) takes off, and needs to become larger and more robust in its scope and scale. Hiring a lawyer is not always necessary, but this is an area you don’t want to be too frugal about, since it can save a ton of headaches later when things get sticky.

    Get a Handle on the System for Yourself
    You don’t have time to become a full-blown lawyer for yourself, and that’s okay. Most of us don’t have the time either, and learning the law can be a painstakingly tedious process to get into. However, a lot of mistakes have happened for many would-be entrepreneurial success stories, simply because the stakeholders in the venture didn’t know anything about the law for themselves! Knowledge is power, and even though you’ve consulted a good lawyer (see above) already, it’s never a bad idea to hold a few of those cards in your own hand.

    What’s on the Menu?
    Since you’re going to be selling something, you should probably know what the product is that you’re offering your customers. In fact, some of the most successful small ventures are based upon products that the owner is passionate about, and it helps out when your customers recognize that you’ve got a deep understanding of their needs, and perhaps even expert knowledge on the product and its characteristics. If you don’t know what to sell, though; no problem. Sometimes a good business strategy will apply to a basket of product categories, and you can simply pick the one that appeals to you after you’ve laid the groundwork for your company.

    The Name Game
    What’s in a name? Well, actually a lot. A bad name for your new company can have a repelling effect on prospects, and a good one could practically become a household word before too long, if it catches on. Look for unique and unusual, without getting too esoteric and strange. A unique name will come in especially handy  for SEO and Internet marketing purposes, since “Discount Shoes” has nearly zero power compared to a very effective search-friendly name like “Zappo’s.” Go ahead and Google it, and you’ll see what I mean when you count the results on the return page.

    Get Hooked Up with Digits
    You’ll need an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to begin operating as a real business, but your lawyer should have already told you that. It usually costs little to nothing to get one, and it registers your company with the Federal Government, so you can have a tax ID number to supply vendors and other businesses with. Most of them, and I do mean like 90% of them won’t even do business with you if you don’t have this number.

    There’s No Place Like Home
    This is a very important and costly part of the process, if you’re looking to set up a store in a retail space that rents on a monthly or annual basis. Typically, the price is pretty steep for a prime location, an this can easily escalate to nearly ridiculous figures if you’re in a major tourist city or international hub. Before dropping cash on a 40×40 space that costs more every month than your car did when you bought it, consider the power of doing business online, from the comfort of your own home.

    Set Some Rules
    Store policies are going to make or break you, and now’s the time to figure out what is acceptable and unacceptable for your business. If you want to rule with an iron fist and refuse all returns or damaged shipments, then it might make you less attractive in the face of competitors who are far more forgiving. On the other hand, being too nice will cost you just as much, if you’re constantly bending over backwards to pay for other people’s mistakes and perhaps even neglecting new customers to manage abusive old ones that are taking you for a ride.

    The Big Picture, in Words
    Time for a business plan. If this sounds like a scary or impossible mission for you, hire a writer who specializes in this area. Like a good lawyer, the person who drafts your business plan will be able to make your idea sound like a good one – especially if  it is a good one – and will benefit you greatly if you’re simply looking for some startup capital from a bank or investors. A badly-written business plan will only serve as a loud and clear warning to others that your poorly-illustrated brilliant concept, is one best avoided.

    Go Shopping
    Now you’re ready to start looking for wholesale products and other services that fit your company and the goals you’ve set forth! A good wholesaler will become your best friend, since getting the best price on goods from them will mean a bigger and better profit margin for you when you turn them around to your customers. In fact, the better the price is for you, the better the price is for them… and that means they will become loyal REPEAT customers before too long, when they see your commitment to pass the savings along.

    Become a Big Mouth

    If you’re shy about promoting yourself or your business, then the truth is maybe this is the time for a personality makeover. Marketing and advertising are the only things that will put you in the minds of your customers, and with the level of competition these days; it’s a must-do, not an option. Fear not, however, there are tremendous resources like www.TopTenWholesale.com at your fingertips, and they are all waiting to help you out with getting the products you need at prices you’ll love.


    Rueben Marley is the Chief Correspondent in Asia for JP Communications, Inc., and a featured writer on TopTenWholesale.com’s Newsroom. You can also find out more about him by visiting his Linkedin profile.

    The Value of Attending Trade Shows to Find Wholesale Suppliers

    Monday, February 14th, 2011

    The Value of Attending Trade Shows to Find Wholesale Suppliers

    by Claudia Bruemmer, Guest Blogger for Via Trading

    If you are a wholesale buyer or a business owner, you can’t underestimate the importance of attending your industry’s trade shows. It’s where you can find out what new products are being introduced and learn all the latest industry trends. It’s also an opportunity to learn what products sell best and how to sell more product. Another advantage is meeting your suppliers and competitors in person and networking with people who can help you grow your business – not to mention the celebrities and parties. There’s no doubt about the value of attending trade shows, but how can you get the most from your attendance?

    There’s a bit of preparation necessary for attending a trade show if you want to do it properly. Actually, it’s hard work. However, the benefits make it worth the effort. Start by ordering your business cards ahead of time and get lots of them. Prepare a little “elevator speech”— a quick summary of who you are and what your company does.

    Ask yourself: whom do you want to see, and whom do you want to be seen by? Make a list of these people – two separate lists. Try to set up a meeting with them in advance, but don’t lock yourself into a rigid schedule; trade shows operate in an informal manner.

    Always carry business cards and company literature with you when you are walking the aisles of the show. You never know who you might run into. Be prepared to work hard and wear comfortable shoes. Bring along all the necessary business tools: business cards, company literature and a camera.

    Your most important asset when representing your company is your knowledge. One of the best ways to improve your worth is by increasing your knowledge. Trade shows are a display case of knowledge. Everywhere you look, you see opportunities to learn about the latest developments and meet the movers and shakers in the field. Trade shows are also a great place to showcase yourself and your company. There are three ways you can take advantage of the trade show opportunity:

    1.     Work the floors so you can see who and what is on exhibit. No matter what industry you’re in, you’ll come away from the show with a full understanding of who does what in manufacturing, marketing or service and what the latest trends and developments are.

    2.     Sign up for the seminars. Most trade shows also have a conferences that feature leading industry speakers. When preparing your agenda for the show, be sure to include one or more conference programs of interest. Introduce yourself to the speaker and ask him or her for a business card.

    3.     Networking. The knowledge you’ll gain from meeting colleagues and coworkers away from the office setting can be priceless. This allows you to catch up with who’s doing what, and it also gives you a chance to network in an informal environment. At national shows, you’ll meet the kind of people you might not have a chance to meet elsewhere.

    Another great benefit of attending trade shows is the opportunity to improve visibility for yourself and your company. No one will ever know about your company unless you put it in the spotlight. Be prepared to impress. Practice your elevator speech before you attend the show so you can put your best foot forward.

    Sign up for or collect as much information as you can. Later, you can sort it out and discard any unnecessary literature. Get copies of all trade publications and fill out subscription cards. Some companies don’t hand out literature, but instead ask for your card so they can send literature later by email or postal mail.

    Don’t spend a lot of time engaging in long conversations. Introduce yourself with your elevator speech. Exchange business cards. Write some notes on the back of the cards you collect to remind you about the points of conversation and move on.

    If you meet someone important or someone your boss wants you to connect with, use your camera to take a picture of the two of you together. Everyone loves to have his or her picture taken, and it could prove to be a door-opener in the future.

    When attending the seminars, go to the room early and stay late. Make it a point to meet the presenter and engage them in a brief conversation. If you have a special interest, ask to follow up after the show.

    Introduce yourself at the Show Management booth. Share your opinion of the show and its programs. Volunteer to be quoted, and have a photo taken of you working the show.

    When you return to your office, write a summary of what you saw and learned. Distribute copies to those who could not attend the show and to your boss.

    Last, but not least, have fun!

    Upcoming Trade Shows

    ASD/AMD – February 27-March 2, 2011 – Las Vegas, Nevada

    National Hardware Show – March 10-12, 2011– Las Vegas, Nevada

    Claudia Bruemmer Bio

    Claudia Bruemmer was the first Managing Editor of ClickZ (1998-2001) and Editor of Search Engine Watch (2007-2008). Claudia’s articles are published on iMediaConnection, Search Engine Guide, BruceClay.com and TopTenWholesale.com. She authored a Fundamentals of Search Engine Marketing course for the Search Engine Marketing Organization (SEMPO) and edited SEMPO’s Advanced Search Engine Marketing courses. Claudia is currently Chief Editor of the TopTenWholesale Newsroom and also freelances in writing and editing online at www.claudiabruemmer.com.