Tips for a successful trunk show

A trunk show is often a great way to showcase your art or designs, especially when your business is just getting started. It’s often a fun event to share your merchandise with friends, family and hopefully lots of new customers.

Depending on your budget and available resources, it can either be done at a local boutique or on your own, perhaps in the party room of a restaurant or apartment building. Either way, the event should be easily accessible to all your guests.

In preparation for your first trunk show, here are three crucial tips to remember:

1. Get help: Recruit your family and friends because you are going to need a few extra sets of hands. Besides yourself, it would be ideal to have three helpers: one to greet, one to handle refreshments, and one for check-out. Always communicate clearly and kindly about what help you need and when.

Ask your most trusted friends or family members — those who will not only give it their all but who truly understand your brand. Because they love you, they love what you do and can passionately and knowledgeably speak to guests.

2. Greet your guests: The front entry should become the check-in area. Ask your guests to sign in — name, address, phone, email address, who might have referred them, and whether they’d like to join your email list. You can easily purchase a nice guest book — as seen at a hotel or bed-and-breakfast — online or at stationary and book stores to use for this exact purpose.

Put a fishbowl on one end of the table for business cards and offer a free piece of merchandise to the winning card. This is an easy way to get a mailing list going. 

Don’t forget to place your business cards and any pamphlets on the table so they’re easily accessible to people entering and exiting the show.

Most importantly, whether or not you are working this area or just working the room, take the time and make the effort to meet all the guests at your party so that they can connect with your brand on a personal level. When you’re a small business owner, your personality is deeply tied to the brand. If consumers get a sense of who you are, they should have a better understanding of your brand.

3. Say thanks: Send thank you notes to everybody who helped and everyone who bought. Email is great, but you know what’s even better? A handwritten note. Perhaps it seems old-fashioned, but it shows that you went the extra mile to show your appreciation. Bonus points for using handmade cards!

Also keep in mind: sending a post-show email to all the attendees can be a good way to thank everyone for attending the show. Include your website address in case a customer wants to pass along your info to a friend who couldn’t attend!

Jeremy Striffler is a consultant for Compendium Inc., which provides marketing and management services for small businesses and individuals in the Twin Cities. Jeremy specializes in commercial real estate and retail and writes the blog, Simply Ask Compendium, which offers advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs. He is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers and Young Professionals of Twin Cities. 

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