Wednesday, October 31, 2012

First Trade shows with ZZ Totz

Our series of First Trade Show Blogs continues this week with Hollie from ZZ Totz. Hollie did the Kids Instyle tradeshow in Melbourne back in August of this year. This blog is jam packed full of advice and great tips, so do make sure you have a good read. I want to say thanks to Hollie as I know she has been super busy since the show. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.

This is Hollies story.....


About ZZ Totz....

I am a self-confessed ‘arty farty’ always whipping up something for my kids to make or play with and so when I was playing with the idea of doing something from home (back in early 2011) I knew it would be something along these lines.

After many trial and errors we arrived at our much loved make-it-yourself puppet kits. The ideal behind these is that they are for kids 3+ with many characters appealing to both boys and girls. These have been designed to a kids attention span – with easy to follow instructions, including colour images for those not reading yet and just the right amount of pieces for easy completion. We make them out of paper so the kids can go to town decorating them with pencils or markers if they like and the body figures are also faceless. The kids have to draw their own faces on their puppets so no 2 puppets are the same – my favourite bit!

What made you choose this particular trade show and not Reed?

I feel InStyle is more of a boutique / designer goods trade show, which is where my products are aimed. The fact that they have Kids Instyle offering a more targeted audience I felt it was the perfect fit.

When did you know you were ready to do your first trade show? Was the application process difficult? Had you been thinking about doing a trade show for a long time before you jumped in?

I had been picked up by a couple of shops by chance meetings and so the thought was always on my mind. It wasn’t until the chance meeting with a buying agent at a business seminar that I really started thinking about it seriously. She was very encouraging that my product was something the retail world would be after and so that was the push I needed. I went home, rang and booked my stand.

What advice would you give to others thinking about doing a trade show? What would you do differently? What have you learned?

LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION - It is the most important factor to consider when booking your stand. This will be your own part of real estate for 4 intense days. Make sure it counts!

I have a background in exhibtion display designs so here are some tips I can pass on:

* The look of the stand is just as important as it’s location. You need to make sure your audience can quickly identify what you are offering and also grab their attention enough to make them stop and talk to you.
* Really consider removing sidewalls if you can. It opens your stand to be able to be viewed from more angles and it doesn’t deter buyers from viewing your products. If you have walls up people feel committed once they have ‘stepped into’ your stand and this can deter people.

Stand placement tips:
* If you are stuck in a back corner - people wont find you, they will cut across the corner and most likely visit the stands either side of you.

* If you are next to the café – people wont see you if the café is busy or hear you over a rawing coffee machine. People look at these stands as a great opportunity to be where everyone will head – think carefully as it can also be the worst spot with your perfect customers no having access to your stand.

* It is really worth the time sussing out where you are going to be placed at the show. And always ask who is next to you.
* Don’t be pushed into picking a stand you don’t like – remember the sales guys are going to try and palm off the hardest to sell stands first. Pick the one that is best for you!

Some things to have prepared / worked out before the show:

Products on offer:
- what exactly are you offering (a range of colours etc)
- how much is it – both wholesale and RRP
- do you have minimum quantity requirements
- when will the next range be available ie in 3 months time

Sales Terms:
- what is your lead time (ie do you need 6 weeks for delivery / manufacturing)
- payment terms – deposits on day, payment prior to delivery, within 7 days of invoice etc
- delivery options – delivery only, pick up from you?

Some forms to put together for the show:
contact form – use this for people that are ‘only looking’ be sure you grab all their details too as a no is not always a no – it could just be a ‘not right now’

a stockist list (if you already have one) people are very precious about who else is stocking you products. Update this with the stores that are purchasing at the show.

sales form with products all listed for quick filling out of orders placed. Be sure it also captures ALL contact details of the customer for you to contact them after the show. NOTE: a quick way is to ask for a business card and staple it to the top. Buyers will give you a minute of their time – make it count!

a price list that states both wholesale buy price and RRP – believe me you are going to asked it a thousands times and the more information people can walk away with the better! Make multiple copies

Other tips from me:

* get contact details from EVERYONE that you talk to at the show. This not only includes prospect clients but even the people exhibiting around you – you never know what experience you can grab.

Has the show lived up to your expectations? Have you had many orders come through since the show? Press interest? What was the highlight for you.

I am over the moon with the response we had from the show. We picked up 21 new stores and are now in every state as well as Singapore! Excited – YES. Yes orders are still coming in from the show so it was totally worth all the blood, sweat and tears (literally). It was a total emotional roller-coaster for 4 days but I would do it all again for sure!

The highlight for me was to be able to share my designs and ideas with the retail world and them love it. It finally was that validation I needed that my product is something people want. It’s so easy to second guess yourself when you’re an at home business – this was such a great feeling, one I am still feeling. Such a great confidence booster!

What next? Will you think about another trade show? A different one?

Hhmmm I think a day off! I have literally just sent off the last batch from orders from the show and I feel I just need a little breather – only for a day. Then it will be back to it organizing the next range options, due out in February. We had planned to go to Kids Instyle in February but unfortunately it also falls in the first week of school and as my little girl is starting prep next year that come first.

But we will be back at Kids Instlye in August in Melbourne for sure.
I had so much help in preparing for the show and so would love to pay it forward to anyone out there that might need some advice, feel free to make contact.

Good Luck Hollie and thanks SO much for such a fabulous and informative blog!


  1. Awesome tips there Hollie!

  2. great reading- tips were very helpful, I might have to look at doing a trade show soon

  3. Great read and fantastic tips. Thanks for sharing

  4. I am considering doing my first trade show with Life Instyle soon and this information was so helpful, I feel much more confidant that I can pull it off now. Thank you