One of the most common ways for new fashion designers to gain exposure is exhibiting at fashion trade shows. Thanks to the pandemic, many of these typically in-person events have gone to a fully remote format.
The way to best exhibit at a digital trade show differs significantly from the preparation required for an in-person show. Fortunately, we’ve prepared this list of 4 steps you can follow to prepare your digital trade show exhibit. Let’s jump into it.
Deciding on a Fashion Trade Show
Instead of traveling in person to amazing locations like Chicago, Milan, London, and Dallas for trade shows, the global pandemic has made it possible to save money on airfare, and instead travel the world from the comfort of your living room. This means that not only do you save thousands on transportation and exhibition booth expenses, but you can also exhibit at more fashion trade shows, faster, leading to MORE exposure!
Take the time to decide your market and choose fashion trade shows accordingly. The internet is full of thousands of potential fashion trade shows, so do your research and apply to exhibit in shows that are the best fit for your clothing line and brand concept.
Eventbrite is an online platform where you can easily filter and find trade shows. Strategically, we recommend that you personalize applications to exhibit in just a few shows, rather than applying to everything you find on Google.
Also, don’t forget to include cost in your research. Before applying to exhibit at a show, figure out the logistics costs to prevent any financial hiccups in the exhibition process.
Set Fashion Trade Show Goals
Congratulations! After applying and getting accepted to exhibit at a trade show you can start setting goals and planning your booth. Are you trying to impress your end shoppers or big retail fashion buyers? Are you trying to attract the attention of niche boutique owners, or set the stage for a new brand partnership? Your goals may vary significantly by the type of fashion trade show you opt into.
We recommend that you plan your virtual booth experience carefully and consider preparing a virtual presentation showcasing visuals of your clothes in motion or in production to give your booth visitors a dynamic and well-rounded impression of the products you’ve created.
Along with these suggestions for your exhibit, we also recommend that you don’t leave your virtual booth profile blank or have a typo in your profile URL. This discourages potential customers and retailers from wanting to learn more about your work. Our biggest piece of advice is to apply your creativity and detailed focus to your booth exhibit in the same way that you apply it to your designs.
Then, take the initiative to make retailer appointments in advance to attract the right kind of attention to your booth. Without the on-site booth buzz of a traditional trade show, it’s important to market yourself prior to the event to gain the most out from the experience.
Prepare in Advance
In doing your research beforehand, make sure that you’ve reviewed everything you need to know about manufacturing your line, your fabrics, pricing, trims, and other details. It’s a good idea to make a virtual list with all the information about your line, for customers and retailers, that you can easily email or direct message to them.
It will also be helpful to create a short introduction to explain your fashion line when a booth visitor asks. This doesn’t need to be a long paragraph, but just a sentence or two to message to those you’re connecting with or add to your digital brand profile. It may also be helpful to directly message your best customer and retailer prospects your contact number and email address so that they can connect with you further after the event. For virtual trade shows, we strongly recommend this, as it is much harder to connect with visitors through your computer than in person.
Evaluate & Create Your Post-Show Plan
After the trade show ends, you will probably be left with long chat and email threads and a lot of new insights and actionable tasks. While it may seem a little more difficult to gain the most out of the experience if you are exhibiting on a virtual platform, many fashion trade shows offer the ability to directly connect with other attendees through chat and even video features.
As for creating your post-show plan, we recommend:
- Inputting all of your interested visitors into a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This will then allow you to easily track how each lead performs over time after the show.
- Following up with customers, other vendors, and retailers immediately after the show, preferably within seven days. Digitally, it will be most effective to send an email or a LinkedIn message after connecting with them. The majority of virtual trade shows offer exhibiting brands the ability to share their emails and contact information with show attendees.
- Booking virtual meetings with the leads you’d like to connect with further. Many trade shows allow exhibitors to access meeting scheduling tools for seamless conversations. This can be easily done both during and after the event!
- Working through your feedback based on the notes you or your visitors have left you with.
If you feel that the trade show benefited your goals, consider exhibiting in it again and secure your virtual or physical booth early, if possible. By showing a continuous presence, you will build stronger relationships with visitors who will come expecting to find your booth and see your newest merchandise.