Markets are a fascinating attribute of the furniture industry. If a retail buyer truly wanted to go to a market every month they could. There are less than 70 days into the new year and already there have been major trade shows that home furnishings retailers have attended including Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas Market, FMG (Buying group) trade show, Tupelo Furniture Market, Guadalajara Furniture Show, Brand Source / TRIB show (Buying Group), High Point pre-market and there are probably several smaller ones not mentioned.
That’s one trade show every ten days and the list does not include any overseas travel for trade shows in Asian countries. This week for example was pre-market when various dealers go to High Point, NC and work with vendors in a more casual format to develop or tweak future product offerings. With the fast pace of April market, pre-market allows retailers to have more meaningful discussions with key vendors. Very few retailers go to pre-market but those that do are generally meaningful accounts.
The furniture industry is so different than many others because everyone is out at markets it seems. Other industries are content with one major introduction market a year. The furniture industry evidently means many more markets.
Consider then that a buyer has plenty of opportunity to see new product with or without you presenting them anything from your bag of samples. There are two very important considerations for reps based on this observation:
1. There are markets every month if you want to be in front of customers. Be judicious in picking which markets you are going to go to because they all cost time and money. Showing product does not guarantee success. Getting customers to look at the product and want you to follow up is what generates success.
2. There is a reason why a buyer does not want to talk with you every week. They are too busy looking at your sales competitor’s product at another market… or at least you should consider that as a real possibility. In order to get your buyer’s attention you need to break through the clutter and capture their attention.
It is your responsibility if you are going to be successful in this business to make the most of the opportunity market provides for new revenue. Here are a couple of ideas you can do to make sure you are maximizing the potential.
1. Change your mindset from expecting people to come into to see you at market because your factory sends out lots of marketing or advertises in the trade papers. Assume rather that the buyer is easily forgetful and has way too many distractions (like other markets) on their mind. Expect that it is your responsibility and no one else’s to get the retail buyer into your space.
2. Don’t depend on one media to get the buyers attention. See in person before market, call on phone and leave message, email with info, write a letter, drop off an invitation, text or anything else you can do creatively including a combination of all of the above. If the buyer does not remember you or does not put your space on their shopping list it is highly unlikely they will come into see you at market. Don’t depend on chance.
3. Understand how your product will be good on dealer’s floor and communicate that message with intrigue such that the buyer wants to come find out about what you have to show.
4. Start enough days in advance of market that your information reaches the buyer in time that they can build a visit to your showroom into the schedule.
Certainly there are more ways to get people into market and other considerations. But in the next five weeks is critical that you get to work and start talking up market. People who never went to market before may be going for the first time. If you don’t ask you don’t know. Hope this helps your market planning purposes. As always feel free to share any of your market success ideas below along with other positive comments. Talk with you next week.