How to Prepare for Market Week and Trade Shows


My fellow IFB columnist Julia DiNardo just wrote a really great post about participating in market week and trade shows. This past week was actually market for my industry (lingerie), and I've spent most of the past few days running all over Manhattan viewing collections, meeting with brands, and identifying key trends and labels for next season. It's simultaneously the most exciting and exhausting part of the year for me. Though I've been doing market for a few years now, every season I try to be just a little bit better. If this is your first time going to market or if you're wondering how to prepare, here are a few tips I've gleaned from the last half dozen or so seasons.

Begin Making Appointments Several Weeks in Advance

Market is not kind to procrastinators. If you wait until the last minute, you may find that the brands you were hoping to see are already booked up. Look at your contacts and business cards from last season, make a list of which brands are a “must-see” and contact them first. If you're going to individual appointments, such as in a showroom, allow yourself at least 2 hours to get there, view the collection in-depth, and get to your next appointment. If you're going to appointments on the tradeshow floor, allow yourself about an hour. You want to have the time for photos, questions, and viewing the kind of details that make market appointments memorable.

Bring Business Cards

You'll probably need more than you think you do as almost everyone you encounter will ask for one. Have them everywhere – your coat, your wallet, your camera bag, your pocket – anything you might carry with you. While you don't have to spring for the fanciest, most expensive business cards, do invest in quality paper stock and quality printing. I'd also recommend purchasing full-size business cards as opposed to mini cards. They're harder to lose and they make a stronger first impression. And of course, keep any business cards you receive in a handy place so you can file them and follow up later.

Have Multiple Camera Batteries, Memory Cards, and Phone Chargers With You

Market week takes a lot of juice. And there's nothing worse than running out of power or memory just before a major appointment. Bring backups of everything and keep a spare charger or portable power bank on you. They don't take up a lot of room or weigh very much, and it's better to have them and not need them than vice versa.

While Press is a Definite Component of Market Week, Remember That The Primary Purpose is Sales. Be Flexible.

Sometimes a brand will have a buyer suddenly show up at the same time as your appointment. If that happens, the buyer may take priority. While rudeness is never acceptable, be professional and willing to reschedule. Even if rescheduling isn't an option, handle the situation with grace. As always, the focus is on building relationships over the long-term, not just during the one season.

Stay Hydrated, Well-Fed, and Well-Rested

Self-care is hard during market. There's so much happening, and if you live outside of New York (as I do), there's a push to see everything before you're gone for another six months. However, taking care of your body is crucial. Keep a bottle of water or a sports drink with you at all times. Have easy to carry snacks (like dried fruit, pretzels, or granola bars) in your bag. Take the time to have a break and sit down for at least one good meal (preferably two) per day. Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Market is a marathon, not a sprint. I'm currently nursing a horrible cold, and I'm sure at least part of it is because I didn't take care of myself.

If you're a regular market attendee, what are you top tips? And if you're a first-timer, do you have any questions?

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