Wednesday, 2 May 2012

BCTF - what worked for me - the final chapter

So I think this will be the last post of my BCTF series if what I found worked well for me. I do hope it has been useful to you and may have given you some ideas of the things you need to think about when preparing for your first trade fair (or even a selling show).

Selling yourself

Ok, this isn't rocket science, and you may have heard all of this before, but the main thing about how you sell yourself (in my humble opinion) is to be YOURSELF. When my sister and I were talking about how we wanted to present ourselves we decided our approach would be simple....we would just be ourselves. We are very down to earth and consider ourselves friendly folk who are easy to get along with, we are both very similar in our outlook and personalities, so I thought we would make a really good team and we complemented each other well.

We decided we wouldn't go for the hard sell, as personally I find that a HUGE turn-off, so took the softer option in the hope that buyers would be drawn to our open, and approachable outlook. Smiling always works well, open body language, standing up straight, giving good eye contact all help to make yoru customers feel at ease. I was extremely nervous on the morning of the opening day and feeling rather anxious so i really had to make a conscious effort to tell myself I could do this, I knew I had confidence in my work, so I looked in the mirror (feeling a wee bit silly and giggle) and repeated some positive affirmations that my sister told me to say. You might laugh, but there is loads of research out there about this, if you visualise your success you have a lot better chance of achieving it!

We also tried to put ourselves in our buyers shoes, and thought about the kind of approach that works well for us when we venture out to spend our cash. With my experience in the retail sector of pharmacy I have also learned over the years how to read your customers and when and when not to approach them. We always made sure we acknowledged any visitors to the stand, it was obvious when people wanted to engage and when they just wanted to look and browse.

One thing we did notice was that some buyers obviously did NOT want to engage in conversation, and would look anywhere other that at you when looking at your stand. The thing here is not to take this personally, but I'm sure the next time I visit a fair I will make sure I say hello to sellers, even if I know I'm not going to buy!

Be your brand

You might be wondering why I have put a picture of a dress on this blog post, well this was my little treat to self. I wanted to wear something that I felt reflected my work and fit well with the look of my stand so I found this gorgeous black and white heart print dress and teamed it up with a simple black cardigan. I made sure I wore a couple of my badges which have the bird from my branding on them. Hopefully this provided a visual reminder to people that they coud connect to the stand. If you are jeweller wear your jewellery, ditto for textiles, scarfs etc or carry one of your own bags, I think this works really well.

My sister and I also did a bit of unwitting and unplanned but pleasantly coincidental co-ordination on Day 1 and ended up wearing the same colour scheme which was commented on by a few of our visitors. I'll definitely think about this in the future...

Ok, that wraps up my post-BCTF-analysis for now. I sincerely hope I haven't bored you all to tears, but that this has been informative and useful to those thinking about doing their first big show. It certainly was a steep learning curve and I'm by no way an expert in the field, there are those out there with loads more experience than me. By looking back I really have been able to analyse what went well and also what didn't, which I'll save for another post, but I feel so much better equipped to deal with my next show. I'm sure I'll still get the jitters but at least I know that I might get a better nights sleep beforehand now as I know a bit more about what to expect!

Good luck to those of you about to embark on your first big show, I'd love to hear from you about what you feel went well for you, and the things you will do differently next time. Please feel free to leave lots of comments below...


  1. Totaly ream Susan ,well done. U should be very proud of urself .high five !!!!

  2. Thanks for such a great review of your show experiences. I've yet to do a large show because they are, quite frankly, scary!

    I find it hard to sell myself and definitely need to give myself a good talking to!

    1. yes, Nadine, for def v v scary, but of you are well prepared, v satisfying and rewarding, you should do one!!

  3. Another great post! Really helpful.

    Babe, you should be very proud indeed. You achieved so much on all levels. And its great that you are looking at it as a learning curve - take the good from it and learn from the other bits.

    Big pat on the back!

    1. thannks, hon, still learning, and loving it!!

  4. Thanks for these posts Sue. I have found them really helpful. I haven't done any big shows/fairs like this, only small ones years ago but now I have gone full time with my business I fully intend to do branch out into bigger events and your advice has made me think about things I would have overlooked. Well done on some blog great writing and an excellent looking show!

    1. thanks Ruth, comments like this are very much appreciated, and it's great to know that my posts have been helpful

  5. Hello Sue, I have come over from UK Handmade to follow your posts about the bctf. Your blog posts are brilliant! They are so informative.

    I agree you have to be yourself at all times and let people see your personaility. It helps people to understand where your ideas have come from.

    I love your work too by the way. Beautiful!

    Sarah xx

    1. Hi Sarah, welcome to the blog and I'm really pleased you have enjoyed these posts. PLease pop by again!! x

  6. Hi Sue,
    I'm doing my first trade show at BCTF this weekend and someone just told me about your blog. Very inspiring and informative, it has affirmed some things I have already done and reminded me of a few others yet to do!
    Thanks and hope you have a good show this time!
    Rebecca Alderman
    stand N52

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your journey to BCTF and also your afterthoughts. I'm doing BCTF for the first time this year and I've got 7 weeks to go. I currently feel on top of things and setting myself deadlines to meet and at the moment feel more excited than nervous, but I'm sure that's going to change over the coming weeks. I'm finding it difficult to visualise my stand other than from the little details point of view so it's been great to see your digitaised illustrations and I will definitely attempt to do this next week and play around with set ups. I've always found your blog so inspirational and a really good read and now, even more so. Thanks.


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