Magazine article International Trade Forum

Participating in Footwear Trade Shows

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Participating in Footwear Trade Shows

Article excerpt

* Selecting a show

Many specialist trade shows for the shoe industry are held in major markets.

They range from small local shows in hotel rooms to international events held on fairgrounds. Each plays an important part in the selling of shoes, and many companies, whether big firms or smaller ones, attend all types of trade shows.

Both large and small events have advantages and disadvantages. A major international show attracts buyers from many countries, is attended by senior managers, has many exhibitors and is a place where a considerable amount of information is available. For a small new exporter the large size can be a disadvantage, however, as the firm can get "lost in the crowd. " A smaller show has the benefit of giving individual participants a higher profile and offers a more focused approach to exhibiting.

Footwear companies planning to export have to select the kinds of show in which to exhibit, as well as the specific ones within those categories. Before a decision is taken on participation, contact should be made with the organizers of different events to obtain information on the type and number of visitors and exhibitors, and the cost and allocation of stand space. If possible, exporters should attend a particular show prior to exhibiting in it to get a "feel" of the event.

* Attracting business visitors

More than half of the visitors to specialized trade shows tend to be at the middle to upper management level with a direct influence on buying decisions. They are looking for something different, and this is an advantage to new suppliers from developing countries. Many executives have decided which companies they will visit at the show before even entering the door. Once inside the exhibition they walk around to see what else may interest them, but they only see a small percentage of the exhibitors. New exhibitors can attempt to attract such visitors to their stand by using pre-show publicity. This can take the form of a mail shot to potential customers, letters targeted to previous contacts, advertisements in selected trade publications or a news release.

* Defining objectives

Before participating in a footwear show an exporter should write down some quantifiable objectives to be achieved during the show. This will later provide a means for evaluating participation. The objectives should be realistic and attainable. Some examples are: making ten new contacts with potential customers, doing market research on two particular types of competing shoe ranges, taking five sample orders, making three appointments to visit potential buyers after the show or making contact with two potential agents.

This approach sounds simplistic but it works, as it gives those manning the stand a guide for positive action, rather than simply hoping that some sales possibilities will turn up. For participation in subsequent years, the objectives can be modified and a trend charted, which can enable the company's management to assess the effectiveness of participation.

* Preparing samples

In most cases a buyer comes onto a stand to see samples. The samples should be examples of the best shoe manufacturing work that the factory can do. The samples are expected to be perfect. If they are not, more harm than good will be done in showing them.

Simple measures such as forming the shoes correctly with tissue paper inside, lacing them tidily and neatly, and cleaning and polishing the leather are mandatory. …

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