Small business: Trade shows - Karen Staples

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Karen Staples, founder of Pure Delish, created the business 15 years ago

Karen Staples, founder of Pure Delish. Photo / Supplied
Karen Staples, founder of Pure Delish. Photo / Supplied

Today the company offers seven different premium breakfast cereals, one of which is a NZ Food Awards Winner, and two others NZ Food Awards Finalists; along with a range of cookies, slabs and snack bars. Very recently Pure Delish was named one of Cuisine Magazine's 2013 Artisan of the Year award winners for one of its products.

Food shows

We usually have a stand at the some of the food shows. We have been at the Auckland Food Show for the past four years and have also done the Wellington Foodshow once; we have just signed up to do the Christchurch Foodshow this year which we have not done before. We are also travelling to Sydney to do the Sydney equivalent of the Foodshow at the end of June. In the past we have also exhibited at the Gluten Free and Allergy Show but not this year. We choose which shows to do generally based on the general show size and type/types of people attending -are they our target market/potential customers?) and success/feedback of previous years shows. We also go to shows where we think we have enough market coverage to warrant having a stand.

Spreading the word

The main thing about exhibiting at trade shows for us is getting our product into the mouths of people who may have seen the product but not tried it, or to people who have genuinely never heard of our company or brand. We also think trade shows are a great place for brand visibility and awareness even if people do not purchase the product, they may remember the brand next time they are in the supermarket for instance. When you get to be a certain sized player in the market you are generally expected to be at some of these shows.

Measuring your success at a trade show

Prices can vary depending upon the show you want to exhibit at. In the early days we did not have the funds to have our own stand so we joined with other companies and had shared stands therefore shared costs. As our company has grown so have our stands, so we are now able to choose stands which we think will be beneficial to us and no longer need to share. For us financially exhibiting at a trade show is ultimately a major cost. If we break even then that's great but making money is not what it is about at a show.

Success is best measured with the flow on sales following the event. With our high-end product, we find that a number of people may have seen the product on the store shelves but due to the high price point have been reluctant to purchase before tasting the product - this is why shows like the Auckland Food Show have been so good for us.

Business deals from trade shows

The food show a year or so ago was the place where we met, the man who is today, our Australian, currently New South Wales distributor. He tasted our products, loved them and is today selling them through 40 plus retailers in NSW. This was our first foray into exporting our product overseas. We have also met many other supermarket grocery owners/buyers and gourmet food store owners at these shows which have led to new retail customers.

Top tips:

You have to expect these shows to be a marketing cost to your business and if you break even that's a bonus. You need to look at the bigger long-term picture and what sales will flow on after the event. Once at a show, you need to try hard to engage your potential customers, try not to let them just grab something you are tasting and walk away. Make sure they know what they are tasting at the very least and what the redeeming features of the product are. Ensure you have some good show specials on your product because if people like the product enough they will purchase it again even if it is a little more expensive. Ensure you have flyers and a list of stockists to give people so they have a visual reminder for after the event.

A number of smart SMEs are running topic workshops for clients and others, setting the agenda of discussion in their field of expertise. Tell us your stories.

- NZ Herald

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