Are Consumer Shows For You?

Here’s an in-depth look at the pros and cons of exhibiting at regional consumer shows—as discussed by promoters and retailers who have “been there and done that.”
Are Consumer Shows For You?

archery consumer showsDeer Expos, Deer Spectaculars, Buck-A-Ramas, Outdoor Sports Shows—no matter what you call them, consumer-oriented hunting shows are happening somewhere within driving distance of your shop. These shows can turn into instant customer-base-building profit centers for the archery retailer who doesn’t mind going the “extra mile.”

Not all consumer shows are equal. The older, larger, and more-established shows produced by veteran companies like Target Communications or Reed Exhibitions will just about guarantee a good flow of qualified buyers because their shows have established reputations. Smaller and/or “first-time” shows in lesser markets can be crapshoots, and you should be skeptical of “promoter” attendance figures. If they claim seventy thousand attended their last show, it usually means close to twenty five thousand showed up. Some of the smaller, established shows do well but any show—even in a major market—must be properly promoted or they will likely be miserable flops.

If you plan to try a smaller market, keep up with how much promotion is taking place (TV, Radio, Billboards, etc), the more the better. Ask around to get a feel for how many folks plan to attend and don’t be afraid to ask the promoter for a “first-time show discount.” The bigger the show, the more competition but the increased traffic should compensate. If you are going to invest your time and money, you want the best bang for your buck.

Consumer shows can be the business booster you’ve been looking for—if you take the right stuff to the right place. Try to get booth space close to the front of the show, to the right of the main entrance (for some reason people go to the right when they enter a show). Corner booths typically cost a little more but they are worth more since you can merchandise twice as much product.

Remember that an informative and eye-catching backdrop, business cards, and hand-out flyers will ensure maximum exposure—and that a well-trained staff can make a lasting impression on potential new customers. Then all that’s left is to choose your inventory carefully, price it to sell—and take your store to the customers!

10 Ways To Maximize Your Consumer Show Experience

1. Set up the day before the show starts. You can usually drive in and unload inventory right at your booth.

2. Customer Profiling Pays. Identify potential buyers and concentrate your sales efforts there. I have never sold anything to any person wearing their ball cap backwards!

3. Train staff well beforehand. Diagram counters and display racks so staffers know where to stock items and where to find restocking items.

4. Designate cash register management. Put one or two people in charge of the cash register so it is constantly manned.

5. Check with promoter to see if tables are furnished. If furnished, use them, if not, bring your own. Remember you can buy tables cheaper than you can rent them at the show.

6. Bring items that sell themselves. When working with a crowd you want to wait on as many customers as possible. Items that don’t have to be demonstrated (Scent products, optics, arrows, broadheads, lighted nocks, release aids, treestands) will increase your volume and profits.

7. Selling bows requires follow-up service. It’s smart to give out discount coupons redeemable at the shop for accessories and setup. Most buyers will follow up on their purchase.

9. Have manufacturers send reps. Reps know their products and selling is their profession, so recruit as many as you can for booth help.

10. Don’t forget fuel. Bring an ice chest and fill it with soft drinks, water, and sandwiches etc. Most Show food quality is poor, it’s expensive, and lines are long.

10 Reasons To Commit To A Consumer Show

1. Increased cash flow. Show income is “extra income.” If you can make a profit at a show in a typical slow month, you should eclipse your projected cash flow.

2. Store and website promotion. Pass out business cards with store info and flyers with “how-to-get-there” maps. The number of customers who show up after the show might surprise you.

3. Encourage future business. Put your best foot forward! Making a good impression at a show could be the first step toward recruiting life-long customers.

4. Face time with old and new customers. As Glenn Helgeland says: “The most-important advantage gained by dealers at my Expos is the sheer number of ‘face-to-face’ contacts. Today’s customer wants to talk to a real person about something as personal as hunting and shooting equipment.”

5. Turn old and obsolete inventory into cash. Space in your store should be occupied by merchandise that is current and desirable. Merchandise that didn’t sell in your store might appeal to someone at the show, especially if it is priced right. So move it out!

6. Valuable feedback from customers. A show is a great place to determine what is hot—and what is not. Keep up with the most-requested items so you can write orders after the show.

7. Improve relations with manufacturers and reps. You are doing the factories a favor by selling their products at the show and footing the bill. If you can move a lot of product for them you can expect more cooperation from them for future shows and in-store promotions.

8. Recruit pro staff and shooting team. When potential team and staff shooters come to the show and see your staff members working the booth, they should be impressed—and they will know what to expect if they sign on.

9. Demonstrate new and unique products. Scent dispensers, trail cams, lighted nocks, video glasses, etc. Most of the people you see at the show don’t hang out at bow shops so they don’t keep up with what is new. Be sure your staff can demonstrate new products effectively.

10. Improve staff sales skills. There is no place like a busy consumer show to teach a person to sell. Repeating selling points, closing sales, knowing when to give up and move on to the next customer—a staffer will deal with as many customers in three days as they will in 6 months in your shop. The skills they perfect at the show will carry over to increase their productivity at your shop.


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