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Sell Your Products to Retailers

Lesson 25 of 31

Trade Show Budget & Cost

Megan Auman

Sell Your Products to Retailers

Megan Auman

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Lesson Info

25. Trade Show Budget & Cost

Lesson Info

Trade Show Budget & Cost

So let's talk about funding that trade show there are lots of options here so first is just a budget into your regular operating expenses but I think for most of us that's that one that feels totally out of reach, right? Like I don't have an extra three grand sitting around you can also if you're good at saving, I am not good at saving let's be clear about that you couldn't commit to saving for a future show, so I know that, you know, eighteen months from now maybe or maybe to say you're from now I want to do this show I'm gonna sit down, I'm gonna do my budget and you're unable to do that because they were gonna talk about it and b there's a budget cheat sheet in your workbook so you can sit down, you can do that budget, you can say this is how much I need I'm gonna work backwards and I'm going to save this is important to me, I'm going to commit to it now I'm not good at saving either, and I'm not good at that budgeting now I budget because I've got it built into my system, but it's ...

a start it's a little hard when you're not making that money yet so few other options now we've got all these fantastic crowd funding sites kickstarter, indiegogo if you've got a great product those could be a really good option for funding a trade show now you want to be strategic about this on dh there are lots of people online who are muchmore experts and have some great advice about how to get noticed on kickstarter and actually bridget of her website is they cannot be think forward she has a great post on on how to use kickstarter for your business um but you know, if you have a great product, you know, people don't care remember about you they care about themselves so they don't care that you're trying to get to the new york if there, but what they do care is that you're trying to launch this new product line at the new york if there and they get their hands on that product. So you want to make sure that you frame that right like it's about the product for them but it's getting you to that trade show? So that is absolutely an option and I know people who have done it, I know people who've done it pretty spur of the moment too. I know someone who got into the new york if fair lot you know, last show army was two shows ago that I talked to her, she found out she was like, I don't have the money created a kickstarter campaign campaign got everybody to contribute, funded or both totally doable it's not always the best idea, but credit cards were there if you need them now I will say that I am the kind of person who does not have personal credit cards, but I have credit cards for my business and personal debt aside, I think not having leased one credit card for your business is dumb, partly because you're spending a lot of money on your business and hello rewards points, so get that credit card at least to get cash back. I'm a big fan of the hotel rewards points whatever works for you, right? But so in a pinch it could work if you really feel strongly that a show could work for you and you have to put a grand or two grand of a boothby on your credit card four five wholesale orders that's covered write the other thing you could do back to that saving piece is you're going to say, I'm gonna start to do this store outreach and every time I get a wholesale order I'm going to take half of that order and put it into my trade show fund so you're using that wholesale business to build momentum for itself. You can also ask your friends and family maybe they want to help you out it's it's not out of the question and you don't know if you ask there's also the bank I know that as small business owners we forget that there are people who can help us get money at the bank but they're they're um so I'm gonna tell you as a story about the first time that I did um new york after I moved to accent on design I was launching this product this home to core product line I had a big booth I got in I got the bus fee it was ten thousand dollars this is not normal guys like not normal most of the time my booth and new york if has been under five grant I just want to make a splash I wanted that big booth and I got that boothby I called my dad and my dad owns his own business and I'm not gonna lie. I was kind of hoping maybe he would just loan me some money right? And I was young I was foolish so I call my dad I'm like I need ten thousand dollars for a trade for this trade show what ideo because like you call the bank and you get a loan oh right I called the bank so this is a case where you know, commercial loans in that dollar amount might be hard for for us you know, we don't have a lot of business income but you can be creative so my husband plays volleyball with a guy who's a banker I called him up so can you help me like you come in? I'll look at your financial situation and I'll figure out how we could make a loan work for you in our case, my husband I already had a home, we actually did a home equity line of credit to pay for it, but you sit down with the bank, they're gonna look at your financial picture and help you do that, and actually it was great because it was a revolving line of credit, I could use it for my business and that something else that's a good thing to think about in terms of funding things like a revolving line of credit. People always say, you know, asked for before you need it, like when you're flush with cash, go to the bank and get a revolving line of credit because they're going to give it to you when you have a lot of money and then if you need it it's there you're not using it right away if you need it it's there, but when you're totally broke and you go to the bank in turley, I need a revolving line of credit there like, what do you have? No, uh, no, so look at those times and you're actually generating income in your business and take advantage of those two help fund yourself in the future so that's a lot of options, right? There's a lot of ways that you guys can find a trade show and you could certainly use bits and pieces crowdfund part put some money on a credit card you know, take a day job for a few weeks you're working for yourself things are tough to get a good waitressing job all that tip money that's your trade show fund, right? Be creative doesn't have to be just the money from your business if you want it and if it's important to you and if growing your wholesale business is important to you, you want to do that all right? So let's also talk about where you khun scrimp and where you should not scramble where you should spend on your first trade show because there are definitely ways to cut your costs on your first trade show. If you're trying to save money, save on housing and lodging, stay with a friend. This is not a case where I would do a local show just because you can stay at home but stay with a friend, get an airbnb, find someone else is doing the show and look for a room mate if you guys are in that private facebook group and you're starting to talk about doing the same shows hey anyone else doing this show? I'm looking for a roommate I don't actually advocate doing these sorts of things forever once you know that trade shows they're generating income for you. I like to go back to my hotel room at the end of the night. I like that. Nice bed. I like that room service clean it up for me, but at the beginning I was in new york and I'm staying with friends in brooklyn. I'm staying with friends in manhattan once took the bus in from pennsylvania every day. I do not recommend that quite the commute, but trying to save money so that's one place, especially in the beginning where you can save money shipping in transportation is another one, right? So we're going to talk in a minute about shipping frayed driving, but, you know, shipping freight, paying all those fees first show loaded up in some kind of vehicle, drive it yourself, right saves you money. So while you're thinking about shows, you might not do the most local show right away, but your first show if it's in driving distance definitely easier food, you didn't try to join a major city. Food gets super expensive, right? Did you make coffee at your friend's house? You put it in a thermostat, bring it to the show, you pack your lunch every day if you're going to go, if you're gonna go out at the end of the night, like, pick the cheap bar now at the expense of restaurant two dollars tacos, we exist, so those are areas where you can be smart and cut down on your fees, and they're also areas like food, where if you're not careful, you can spend a lot of money without realizing it. So if you're trying to kind of keep your cost low, those are great places here is where I would not cut back on your booth display and fixtures, so we're gonna talk so much more about booth displaying our next segment. It's gonna be awesome. We're gonna expand what's going on in here, but if you're going to invest money to it in your display now, that said, you could be resourceful where it makes sense for your brand, right? I using a six dollar clamp lights, were talk way more about lighting, I promise, but I using a six dollar clamp lights because they work with my aesthetic, so I'm not saying you have to run out and buy the most expensive thing, but if you're doing something in your booth just because it's cheap it's goingto look cheap and since we raised everybody's prices and we know that part of perceived value comes from brand we want the booth to support that brand, right? So that's, where you want to invest your money, the beauty of this is that you are going to spend more money in the first time getting those display pieces, but we're going to use them over and over again so it's a cost that we can aggregate over time so let's actually start setting your budget because I wanna walk you guys through the things that you can expect. Now I know that right now, your might not actually set your final budget. You khun jump into the workbook page forty three when you write it's down and plan for your trade show and do this. But I want to talk about what some of these fees are that you can expect so that you're not blindsided later, right? Because we don't want anyone to be blindsided by surprise fees. So of course your biggest fee is going to be your booth fee that's going to be your number one expense, we'll get to it, but number two, if you're getting a hotel, is always a hotel that's why we can save there, but you want to be careful and really research what's included in your booth fee because some shows give you a lot and some shows give you a little, so I gave you those booth fees. But those numbers can be a little misleading if a show then makes you buy your own electricity and lighting and many other add ons so always ask what's included and here's the thing when you're thinking about a show whether you've signed up for one or whether you're just considering it, they're going to send you a lot of stuff to read writes like all these contracts and pieces of paper, just email the sales staff and ask don't spend twenty minutes trying to read that email the sales staff and say is electricity included in my booth fee is lighting included in my booth fee? Am I allowed to install my lighting myself? Yes if you're not allowed to install your own lighting, it means you have to hire the union guys to do it thankfully most jos, if your booth is under a certain size, you can do it yourself so find out what's included in your booth fee and if it's not included you might end up having to budget for electricity lighting maybe y fi if you need internet not something to show my charge you for typically I found I don't usually recommend that use your phone is a hot spot you better off but I will say it a big show cellphone receptor you know, smart phone reception not always great because there's a lot of people trying to use that network um you know find out what is included in to make sure you budget for it uh then we've got no transportation in shipping, eh? So if you're going to drive you know how much you're going to spend on gas more importantly how much you're gonna spend on parking right? Most shows her in a city that's going to kill you maybe you're doing new york now and you're in dr your stuff in drive into the city on load, drive your car back out to hoboken park they're cheaper and take the train back into the city saying it doesn't have to be so expensive they're super creative ways to do this uh so don't be like, oh, the hotel says forty dollar parking great forty dollar parking my guard hoboken after I've unloaded it I personally actually ship stuff and take the bus into the city because the afterward about parking at all um if you're gonna fly, you know what can you expect with their fair? So if you do need to ship things, you want to think about ship shipping and free and there's this little words they sneak in here called dre edge, so dre edge is the cost to move your freight, so whatever you're shipping to a show, it's the costume of your freight from the loading dock to your booth, so some shows it is included new york now your age is included in your booth fee you're shipping company shows up you're stuff gets delivered to your booth I have been two other shows though where if you use the show's shipping company dray ages included if you use your own carrier seven hundred dollars, use your own dolly and just move your stuff over yes so if you're unloading your personal vehicle, you are exempt from dr edge, which is why in the beginning just drive yourself to you know what's going on so you want to pay attention to that yet take a strong friend, grab somebody, unload your own staff you know you might see and some show rules like you'd only use a two wheeled cart. So my first time doing new york gift, I read a piece of paper that said, you may only use a two wheeled cart to carry your stuff in and I made my husband like design everything so I could reel it in myself. And then everybody's got four wheeled dollies and their stack and stuff up because I didn't know you were doing the show, so I couldn't call anyone and ask facebook group comes in handy because unfortunately, when you get your things like union rules that's the one place where the sales staff has to tell you the party line like if there's a no power tools rule usually it's not so hard and fast is it says your sales reps are going to see your sales staff is going to say yes, no power tools then you should talk to someone who does the show and they're going to say long is the union guys don't see you, you can screw that into the wall songs your boot, this small, you're okay? So this is where it helps to be in a community because you could ask those questions, and that was for me. The downside of that first show is I didn't know anybody, and I had to believe everything I read because I don't have a choice, but so if your shipping, you can certainly ship free and we're going to talk some more about building some great display pieces that double as shipping crates, we'll talk about that and display, but you might wanna ship maybe it's, just impossible for you to drive maybe you know, you're on the west coast, but, you know, new york gift and you want to build this great booth because, you know, it works for you, you wouldn't have to ship you also might want to store your display between shows, because trade shows take up treating this place like a blas space, right? So that could be an option I'm gonna give you guys my number one recommendation for shippers in case you do wanna ship file this away for later, it might not might be five shows down the road, but showtime express dot com there's only one e in the middle of express um, they have the best rates and the best customer service of any shipping company I've ever dealt with a call and talk to jean teller meghan sonya no kidding. I just love them so much. I get nothing for this. I just think they're like the best freight company I've ever dealt with. And I tell everyone I'm like call gene called jean. She'll fix you up, right? So if you need to ship your freight, I would call them they'll help you out, but for the most part, your first time probably loaded in the car and drive it there. Actually, someone that I work with, um just did the national stationery show and she got her entire booth it's like the back of some kind of hyundai sedan. You go to press bound dot com she actually wrote a block post about how she did that so you can see how to pack an entire hard wall trade show booth in a hyundai it's pretty impressive, yeah, all right, so what else is going into your budget? Obviously, we've got our booth display so you might be purchasing our building furniture, and we're gonna talk about weird to get that furniture from in our booth design segment, which is coming up next, but you might have to be spending money on that or you might decide to rent most of the time. The rentals from the trade shows are like pretty cheesy looking, but if you're flying from california and you're going to new york, running might be a better option. So think about that in your budget and you display fixtures any of the pieces that are going on top of your major pieces put those in your budget lighting that's gonna have to go in there and again, most of the stuff in the top half of this list is like a one time spend you buy it and you can use it for every trade show going forward, but you have to budget in for your first trade, joe flooring same thing some shows you go bare floor, some shows you're gonna want carpet, we'll talk about it all of that stuff in the next segment, but just know you're gonna build it into your budget. Then you've got what I call expendables every show I paint my booth I by paying every time cable ties it ties there like your best friend, you should buy a bag of those before every trade show you never know what you're in for all that kind of little stuff then of course you're gonna want a budget for your line sheets and catalogue printing your postcards if you're doing a press kit you know you're gonna have a folder have your press release urine have some information you want a plan for that too if you're spending money on product samples so if you're getting things manufactured you won't have to invest a certain amount of money to have enough product samples to fill your booth and look good so budget that and you know whether it's your materials or labor in manufacturing and then of course in your budget you're gonna think about you know if you need that hotel or apartment rental meals, coffee and snacks and again those replaces you conscripts so I know this feels like a lot here but if we know in advance and we planned for it and we use those creative funding options it starts to make some of this not so scary you know and also in the booth to slight piece and we'll talk about this in the next segment you can sometimes use some of your retail craft show displays in your wholesale booth so you've already been doing some shows you might not be starting from scratch so you have questions about the budget don't be scared all right it's big it's big I know it's big but if you know this up front than you not hit with those surprises right, so we know we can plan for it and it really doesn't have to be that expensive it's a lot of line items, but some of those line items are not that high if you're really smart about how you're doing it so I'm used to sending two outs packages of jewelry, right? How much does it cost on average? Two sun like a crate so when I should that's a great question when I ship with showtime and I will show you guys in the next segment a couple of images of what my crate looks like, I'm usually spending anywhere between one hundred fifty and two hundred fifty dollars one way okay? And my crate is heavy like you and it's all by weight so minus heavy you could go in a lot lighter if you didn't build all your displays out of solid wood building work e o with hammer yeah, I love it. All right, so the last question that I want to tackle really quickly because I know it's something that you guys were wondering is how do I calculate the r o I of a trade show and so the return on investment right? And everybody say anything okay that's a lot of money how do I know if it's going to be worth it so it's not as direct as when you do a retail show what you go to a retail show you sell things to customers you might get a few orders on your website afterwards, but it's usually kind of in there and done trade shows are a very different animal. What you sell at a show is not going to represent necessarily the true roo I of a show because this is about building momentum, so we're gonna go to a show you might write some orders you might might have orders to cover your booth fee for me, it's very rare I've had a very few number of shows where I didn't make my expenses back, plus some in that show, right? So that's that's pretty typical for me, but what you also have to look at is the big picture, so stores ordered a show they re order in the future, but you met them at the show that is part of your return on investment. You know you have to look at the life span of your customers, plus you're collecting leads so they might not order at the show they might follow up. You won't mean a buyer from a bigger store and it might take them six months to a year till they get your product in the store you meet the buyer from anthropologie, they're not placing in order tomorrow they're going to come back they're going to show it to their product team they're going to request samples you're going to send them samples they're going to show it to their product team again they're going to put it on their mood boards for there you know fall twenty fifteen collection and you're gonna go back and forth and maybe in a year you're going to see a pio from them right? You're gonna get that purchase order so the thing with trade shows is you can't calculate an r o I in the first certainly at the end of the show and really not I would say within the first three to six months so what I tell people because it is the honest truth is that if I didn't do trade shows I wouldn't have my business and that's what it looks like plain and simple I do this cycle of trade shows and the cycle contributes sometimes they do shows that aren't great but since I'm just the repetition of having been in a couple of shows that boost things sometimes the show's not great because I just did two other shows and I've pretty much seen all my buyers that happened to me that's why I like two shows in a season not three three starts to get a little redundant but so what you have to look at is the long term and that's where again where I come back to like is the so is the vibrate and then are you getting, you know, leak quality leads and follow ups after so maybe you didn't write those orders of the show, but are you getting other things out of it? Are you getting leads later? Are you getting sales later? Are you putting things into the pipeline? If those things were happening, then you're atleast gonna want to stick with that show a little longer because you're going to start to see that mo mentum build apology be at the magic charlotte, what trade show what they typically so I think they pretty much goto everything like there, and it depends on the category, but they're going to be at you know, you're going to see them at the gift show you're gonna see them at some of those shows, but I think you're going to see them at, if not magic, then you might see them at some of like the law, eh? You know, fashion shows, you might see the capsule kelly mentioned capsule a couple times that's a a new and kind of emerging fashion show now capsule is an interesting case, I have a friend who does that one where there's not a lot of order writing that takes place at that show it's like lead that's industry, contacts it's networking partly because a lot of those buyers air working on those longer lead times, right? So they have to go back, they have tto meet with the staff, they have to plan, they have to forecast, right? So that's a show some of those shows where you're seeing major buyers, you might not get a lot of orders of the show, something you have to plan for for sure, we getting some questions online, there was there were some questions that popped up about booth location, and you had your druthers where you want to be you can you can you talk? Yes, I talk a little bit about that, so when we get into the booth design segment, we're actually going to talk about looking at the floor plan and guessing flow, so one of the things that you could do was always look at a floor plan and try to figure out how traffic is going to flow and look for dead spots. So for me, the front of the show in the back of the show don't necessarily mean good and bad. For instance, if traffic is walking in and turning this way and I'm the booth here, time at the front of the show and everybody's turned this way and you're looking the direction you're turning right this'll be the front of the show and nobody is looking at it so you really have to look at traffic flow and look for dead spots as opposed to thinking front or back? I had some fantastic shows being pretty much of what you consider the back of the show so that's what you really want to pay attention to their so do we have some homework coming? We dio so I know that this segment was a little heavy, right? We had to talk about numbers we could talk about those shows and maybe you're feeling like uh really megan but here's the thing besides, if I didn't do to rachel's I wouldn't have a business I'm gonna let you on something else traitors are fun, right? Like especially right magic is a party new year gift it's like seen its like I walked in and I'm like, oh it's my show family I missed you guys so much like how's your baby is he growing up like all that kind of stuff? It's fun and it's also fun because we get to think about our booth design and so we get to ingrate engage our creative maker brains, right? So we just did a bunch of math and analytical staff and something that design yeah, so let's get to that design part thank you, tiffany so your homework is I want you to create a mood board for your trade show booth, I want you to start to think about that aesthetic. Now you can create this mood board in any way you want. We all know I'm partial to pinterest. So that's, where I make my mood boards. But you could do it any way you want. Uh, but what I want you to do in this mood board is I don't want you to worry about, you know, this is the type of display I want. We're not worrying about that yet. What I want you to think about is what is my overall aesthetic. What is the aesthetic of my brand? What looks good to me? I have a pretty narrow esthetic. I like gray and white and a little bit of black that's me, that's, the mood that I want my booth. I'm not putting all this stuff up here because it's necessarily a fixture that I want. I'm not putting a d I y knitted carpet in my booth. I just really like that color palette, man that's, good that's what I want. And that's. Why I want you guys to dio what's that feel what's that mood.

Class Description

Selling your products at local art shows and craft fairs is a great way to network in your community, but it’s not the easiest way to grow your business. Landing your products on the shelves at boutiques or other retailers is the key to success. Join designer, educator and wholesaler Megan Auman to learn how to navigate the complex wholesale market like a pro and get your goods into stores everywhere, by learning how to sell your products to retailers. .

Drawing on her own experiences selling her products, Megan will take you step-by-step through the terminology, policies, pricing strategies, product creation and even distribution methods that you need to successfully work with retailers. You’ll learn everything you need to know about the two parts of a wholesaler’s target market: the store buyer and the eventual retail customer. Megan will also help you navigate the tradeshow landscape. You’ll gain an understanding of buying cycles, finding the right shows, designing a booth, creating and promoting your tradeshow line, and preparing line sheets and catalogs.

Whether you’re an Etsy seller who’s ready to diversify their product line, or a long-time wholesaler ready to expand, this course on selling to retailers will give you concrete, easy-to-apply tools for using wholesaling to bring your products to a larger audience.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Sample Order Form and Wholesale Terms

Trade Show List By Month

Trade Show Packing List

Private Facebook Group Access

Store Prospect List



Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


a Creativelive Student

This is the first course I have bought. That's how valuable it is! I have a wish list of courses I dream of owning, but alas I'm on a 'starving' artist budget. I wish I had more time to watch all the free courses on CREATIVELIVE. I WISH I could 'save' a once for free watch time. they aren't 'conveniently' timed. And there are reasons I don't buy w/o seeing what the course entails vs. cost etc. I might buy more if I was able to do such. There are so many I am interested in but time constraints for watching it or catching a re-run are really prohibitive. I won't buy 'blind' and funds are limited. So I must be selective in choosing what to buy. It has to fulfill multiple requirements for me personally. Perhaps others have this dilema and CL could work on that. Or hey, maybe everyone just has more $ than they know what to do with. That said I am astonished that there are only 2 reviews that are lukewarm at best. This course crosses over so many platforms that whether or not I am ever intending to sell to retailers (which I have zero interest in) it is jammed so heavy with idea's and info on how to expand your mind and creative thinking processes that it's inspired me into action!!! My brain is on fire. Thank you Megan! I'd shave my head to own everything that Sue Bryce has taught. Megan is in that league of sharing insider info that is impossible to put a price on! I was only able to listen to a small percentage of Megan's free class, but it was enough to know that it was pure GOLD! Such Inspirational and visionary idea's are dense in this course. I also have sitting next to me two bags of coffee from one audience member! I think Creativelive is the #1 most amazing source I could ever hope to find and I still can't get over the steller excellence of the team that runs this. I live 4 hrs from Seattle (on a good day) and crave to be in an audience...but I love watching from my forest hideaway! The glitchiness in streaming during this course was annoying. I have broadband and multiple browsers to avail upon but there's something afoul in the air possibly because each browser had issues. Either audio was not working or visual was not working. I had to open 2 browsers. One for hearing and one for seeing. I hear from other brick and morters that make me think it is/was statewide. I will put the blame on Century Link because that was the common denominator. I'm following through on that one. They have been quirky ever since they took over Qwest. I'll end with major kudo's for the fantastic offerings that CREATIVELIVE has given to creative's everywhere! My life was changed when I stumbled on this tremendous opportunity. I am so forever grateful!

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This is the perfect class for me! Was looking for this kind of information about doing trade shows and getting in to retail stores and found driblets of info here and there online. But, this is the whole deal and real deal. I think Megan is an AWESOME teacher and find her so easy to connect with. I love that she is funny and engaging and she clearly cares about the studio audience. She's a talented metalsmith and talented teacher. The information she gives in this course is so so so valuable. I feel like after going through this course and having it as reference I will be so ready and confident with taking my jewelry business to the next level. She makes it so approachable and breaks everything down. Thank you Megan!!


Absolutely fantastic! Meg's course was one of, if not THE, most comprehensive and educational pieces I've seen in a long time. The knowledge she shared was dead on, inspiring and very, very generous and gracious of her. Meg presented the materials very well and the added bonuses were...well, just awesome! I've followed her blog for a long time and now I'm a fan of her classes. I'll be taking/buying more! Thank you SO much, Meg and Creative Live! 10 out of 5 stars for this class! - Ronda