The Trade-Show Advantage

It hardly seems possible that another show season is upon jewelry retailers. The fourth-quarter selling season is barely a memory and it’s time to talk about the May and June shows!

According to all the research published on why retailers attend shows, seeing new product is usually the No. 1 reason. Following close behind that are other responses also related to seeing new product: finding new marketing programs, relationship building with vendors, finding new vendors, and getting a sense of where the business is heading over the next few months for the purpose of critical planning and executing those business plans.

The April issue of the magazine may seem early to be writing about shows, but the reality is that you will be hearing from your favorite suppliers’ sales representatives with increasing frequency and intensity over the next few weeks to schedule appointments with you for Couture, Luxury by JCK 2005, Swiss Watch by JCK, the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry & Watch Show, and The JCK Show ~ Las Vegas 2005.

As you would expect your own sales staff to do in the key selling season for retail, the road warriors of the jewelry industry are trying to maximize their time and the opportunity the show season presents to the manufacturing community.

If for no other reason, shows do offer a much more secure venue than traveling up and down I-405 to your next sales call. And from a retailer’s perspective, having all of those resources together in one venue couldn’t be more efficient for seeing what’s new in product and marketing programs that help move business forward. And, let’s not forget the educational opportunities and the chance to hear some remarkably smart and talented speakers at the shows.

So what’s the problem? At the JA International Jewelry Show in New York, I talked to a number of industry acquaintances. Interestingly, a familiar thread ran through the conversations: the difficulty of securing appointments for the shows. In fact, for the higher-end shows the number of resources trying to make appointments with these stores has become a veritable problem.

The stores, or rather the owners, are reluctant to make appointments and actually get angry when the rep persists. Certainly, no one in the selling profession wants to irritate or antagonize a client with follow-up calls. Yet, the whole point of going to a show is to see what’s new and what vendors are doing to generate business in the coming season.

Buyers and sellers would do best to remember that an appointment is not a commitment to buy. It is simply a commitment to spend a certain amount of time with an existing or potential vendor to see product and hear about marketing programs.

Shows do represent effective time management for all buyers and sellers. It’s time for both parties to remember why they’re there in the first place. It’s all about doing business.

fdallahan@reedbusiness.com