February 25th, 2015
I went to an old time “show” this weekend, the Toronto Outdoor and Adventure Show, where I was testing out a new company of mine called Suriname Trails. Suriname Trails is a travel retailer focused only on Suriname, a country at the top of South America that pretty well no one in North America has ever head of! The show wasn’t initially on my radar and it certainly was not part of the overall marketing strategy for the company, but I saw the ad at the last moment and thought I would give it a try. Three days of meeting and greeting!
Things went well and I had literally hundreds of good discussions with people about the travel service, Suriname and booking a tour. If you’ve ever done a show you know these things can be a real crap shoot. Sometimes great, a lot of times standing around for hours talking to the people in the booth next door. Why I liked this show and why I think it’s something to consider for anyone starting up a new company is that they can:
- Give you a real good shot of reality about your product or service;
- Act as a superb test marketing ground if you have a specific product to offer;
- Provide lots of feedback into your product or service idea;
- Get you out of your home and talking to the real world. A very useful thing for many solopreneurs!
Some tips for people who are considering doing a show? Here are a few things I’ve learned from either bitter experience or watching the good booths around me.
- The show booth prices are VERY negotiable. I paid a third of the stated price for my booth because they like to make sure all the booths are taken (for reasons of revenue and looks).
- Travel light. This not only allows you to walk through the front door with your set up, it also allows you to jump quickly at an offer of a lower booth price if they come to you as the last moment. I often tell them it’s just too rich for me and set aside the time in case they call. They often call!
- Have something to sell or do for people at the booth. Even if you’re selling a service, try to think of a game or add a product to that service to get people to have a look at you. The booth beside me had some bamboo pillows for people to feel as they walked by. The guy two booths down did free shoe shines to sell his leather polish. At the last show I did I had a spinning prize wheel. All good and all get people to notice you.
- Get a high stool or better yet, a high chair with a back. That allows you to sit while at the same time be at eye level if people approach. I’m rather tall so I don’t like to stand and loom over people but a high chair works great!
- Have something they can stare at or puzzle over as they walk by. This could be an interesting photo or something quirky about your business. This allows them to pause and allows you to do a shout out and get them talking with you. At this last show I had a colourful banner and at the top, in very large letters, was the word “Suriname”. Many people paused because they were trying to figure it out and when they did I yelled over with a big smile – “Bet you don’t know where it is!” Most didn’t which started the conversation. Those that did wanted to prove to me that they did. Anyway you look at it we were now talking.
Lots of other suggestions out there on the net I’m sure but for those of you who are considering starting a business, I highly recommend a show to start. Gets you going!
Tags: Coaching, niche marketing, small business, solopreneur