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A Fair to Remember

Exhibiting at a trade show or fair can make your new product unforgettable-if you do it right.

This story appears in the February 2004 issue of Start Up.

County fairs, Renaissance fairs, craft shows, home and gardenshows, sports shows and auto shows are just a few of the eventsinventors can attend to sell their products, make some instant cashand test-market a new innovation. Your presence at a trade showmight even be the launching pad for landing new investors orsetting up a distribution network. All you have to do is pack upthe van, drive to the show, set up a booth and start selling. Youcontrol everything, and substantial sales success can point the wayto a big future market. However, your success at the show dependslargely on how well you present yourself and sell others on yourideas.

First ThingsFirst
Before jumping into your first big show, ask yourself somequestions. For instance: Will your product sell well at a tradeshow? Ideally, it should fill a need most people who attend theshow have, and it must have a simple, direct message. Fairs are theperfect starting points for products with broad appeal that wouldideally be sold in supermarkets, department stores and massmerchandisers. Normally, those markets are difficult for a smallinventor to penetrate. But entrepreneurs can build up sales atfairs, sometimes selling as much as $70,000 over a weekend, whichcan give them the success they need to crack the big retailers.

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