By: Cheryl Cliffe
SARCDA hosts many large exhibitors at its exhibitions each year, many of whom are leading players in their respective spaces. But we also provide a platform for smaller, upcoming entrepreneurs to showcase their products and break into the market.
One such success story is that of picnic blanket manufacturer, Piekant Picnic (Pty) Ltd. What started with a few orders for friends and family soon turned into a small home-based business; but it wasn’t until owner, Marguerite van der Merwe, got an email from SARCDA MD, Teresia Stander, inviting her to exhibit at SARCDA that the business really took off.
“I felt as if I had won the lottery, someone had finally recognised my product and I was going to exhibit at one of the most prestigious trade exhibitions in the world,” says the Eastern Cape-based mom of three.
Never having participated in, or even attended, a trade show before, Marguerite admits that she was seriously underprepared for her first stand but, although she went home without a single order, she was armed with invaluable knowledge about how to get the best out of her next trade exhibition participation.
Back home, she immediately started to prepare for the next SARCDA exhibition at which she received orders for more than 100 picnic blankets from retail shops and corporate clients.
“I was ecstatic and now knew, for the first time, that I was going to make it,” she says
Six SARCDA exhibition stands later, Marguerite is adamant that SARCDA has “been the best investment I have ever made in my life and my business has grown from a one-woman, home-based initiative, making 75 picnic blankets a year, to a factory, employing four permanent seamstresses and creating over 2000 items a year.”
Marguerite has also become a vocal advocate for SARCDA: “Over the past three years I have recommended SARCDA to many SMME's; and every one of them that has exhibited has said that it is the best thing they have ever done for their business”.
SARCDA’s empathy for small business has also found favour with representative organisations like SA Craft Collective, Cape Craft and Design Institute, and SEDA who regularly support our exhibitions, opening new doors for their members.
The exhibition industry is notoriously transient, driven by ever changing fads. That SARCDA celebrates its 51st anniversary in 2019 is testimony to the longevity of our offering, which provides increased revenue and invaluable networking and marketing opportunities for exhibitors of all sizes.
The exhibitions’ contribution to exhibitors’ bottom lines is substantiated by the fact that 98% of our exhibitors sign orders at our exhibitions.
“Those exhibitors that fare best are those that ‘work’ their exhibition participation; ensuring that their customers know that they are participating and offering incentives like discounts and specials on show days,” says Teresia Stander, MD of SARCDA exhibitions.
While the primary objective of any exhibitor is obviously to make sales, the “softer” benefit of networking should not be underestimated. It is one of the oldest marketing maxims in the book that people do business with people they like. Meeting new and existing customers and creating and strengthening bonds is a valuable benefit of participation in a trade show; and one that is likely to provide a return all year round.
The next SARCDA exhibition, SARCDA Africa 2020 – formerly known as SARCDA International – takes place at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, over three days, from Wednesday, 11 to Friday, 13 March 2020. The exhibition will be open daily from 09:00 to 17:00.