What Is A Market?
As a business owner, you’ll probably attend a few market events occasionally. If you haven’t attended any markets yet, please make arrangements to start now. Each market is designed to be a very productive way to boost your business and bring it to the next level. You won’t be sorry if you locate and find markets that are full of potential vendors.
A market is a place where wholesalers show their wares in showrooms, usually through sales rep groups. So, imagine a mall in which there are multiple floors and each shop has a specific theme and the floors are arranged by specialty – like kitchen, lighting, men’s clothing, children’s clothing. You get the idea. Then you arrive and get a special pass (you can find the guidelines on the website usually) and go in and visit all the showrooms related to what you are interested in. You can set up accounts and place orders right there.
Usually markets have “special events” on a regular basis – for example, my favorite market is the Dallas Market Center and they have a January and June Total Home and Gift Market where not only do they have the normal vendors but they have “temp” booths that new and specialty vendors can set up to show you their items as well – it’s a great chance to see an expanded version of the normal shops. You can meet the owners of some of the brands and find new brands you might be interested in. You also will see what’s up and coming.
One thing is for sure, once you start going to market events you’ll end up hooked on them. However, before going to a market it’s important to understand your goals and motivations for attending and plan how you’re going to make the most of it. And remember, the event itself is not the end – it’s just the beginning.
Here are seven tips for making the most of a market event.
1. Take Business Cards – You want to take business cards, most vendors will ask for yours. Make sure you have them with your correct shipping address as many vendors take your card in place of writing out the shipping info on the order. But, someone might also follow up with you based off your card, so make sure your business card truly represents what you do.
2. Be Ready For The Hard Sell – At the event you’re not trying to sell anyone anything but vendors can be a little pushy sometimes. Make sure you ask them how their products might fit in your shop (after you tell them about your shop). If they are getting too pushy, just walk away. You want this to be a resource to you so that you can help get your needs met. In business, people help those who help others so be sure to make note on any cards you get of what you think you might want – lots of cards means you have to remember a lot of vendors.
3. Work on Your 30-Second Elevator Speech – You want to be able to describe what you do to people without sounding like a robot or confusing them. Practice answering questions that people might ask about your business. You should be able to tell about your target audience, who you buy for, about the current brands you are selling and what you are looking to expand to.
4. Be a Social Butterfly – Yes, you want to meet people! It’s going to be lots of walking and talking, but it is important to meet lots of people because you never know which ones will turn out to be your best vendor. If you meet more than five people at each event, you probably won’t be able to remember them, so take notes – they don’t mind if you write down some notes about the lines they offer.
5. Ask Questions – Since you’re going to meet a lot of people, spend time talking to each person you meet, but mostly spend time listening. To listen more, ask open-ended questions about each person that you meet and the product lines they represent. Believe it or not, they’re going to remember you more, the more they get to talk about themselves. They will also follow up with you about meaningful things if they know what you are interested in.
6. Get Their Cards – Once you’re done taking to someone, find time either during the event or just after to write memorable notes on the back of their business card (or even do this in a notebook that you carry with you). In this way, you can use it to follow up later. The follow-up is where the business is. You might not purchase at the event, but later on you might need something they carry and want to talk to the person you are familiar with.
7. Follow Up – After the event is over, within 24 to 48 hours you want to follow up with each person that you personally spoke to and that you want to do business with. The follow-up is the most important aspect of attending markets because it keeps you in the loop. You may want to choose 3-5 businesses to work with at each market and expand your products slowly.
Another factor that can make a huge difference in the success of going to markets is to make sure that you stand out in some way. Many people have trouble remembering names at events and matching them with faces. If you can wear something or say something that keeps your image in their mind, so much the better. Differentiating yourself from the other business owners at the market event is essential to your success because they will give you better service if they remember you or you remind them – “Hello, I’m Mathea and I met you at the Dallas Market in June” type of thing.
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