Tradeshows 101:  Making the Most Out of Your Experience

As IMATS and The Makeup Show NYC approach, let’s discuss some ways to get the most out of your experience!

Makeup tradeshows are most notable for being a resource for purchasing products at a discounted price.  This is true and it is a great resource for building or re-stocking your kit; however, there is much much more.  These events offer opportunities to network, take classes or workshops, or listen to talks from artists whom you admire or who inspire you.  Here are five tips for making the most out of a makeup tradeshow:

1.  Buy Product Mindfully

Tradeshows can be overwhelming and there is something that happens when that much product and the word, “discount,” collide:

make it rain money GIF-downsized

There is this general idea that you get great deals at tradeshows, and sometimes that is true, but not always.  In order to spend your hard-earned cash most wisely, there are four questions we need to ask ourselves when deciding what to buy at a tradeshow?

  • do I have a pro discount for this brand?  If so, what is my discount?
  • how much is the discount at the booth?  Is it lower than my discount?
  • how much is the ticket for the show?  Am I paying more to shop in person than I would in shipping if I ordered these online with my discount?
  • how will I get this home? Will it cost me to ship this home?

Sometimes, the pro-discount is much higher than the booth discount.  MAC Cosmetics is a great example of this.  Their booth discount is typically 20% and their artist-level pro discount is usually 40%.  In that case, if you have a MAC Cosmetics pro discount, it is likely going to cost you less to order this product online or buy it in a store.  On the other end of that spectrum, Make Up For Ever typically has fantastic bundle deals on foundations at shows, sometimes working out to 50% off the retail price.  That’s higher than the artist-level pro discount for that product in their Backstage Program, so in this brand’s case, it may be more economical to buy it at a tradeshow.  Buuuut……

How much did it cost to get into the show?  Was it nearly $100 for a 1 or 2-day pass?  Are you only shopping or are you going to take some classes?  If you’re only shopping, then you are paying to shop and in order to determine if you’re saving any money, you’re gonna need to whip out your adding machine and your nerd cap and do some math to see if you’re saving any money whatsoever or paying more to shop at the show.

lost luggage

Another factor to consider if you’ve flown to a tradeshow is how you intend to get the product home.  Do you want to check $2,000 work of products and trust that they’ll end up where you are, unscathed when you land?  Do you want to ship it home to ensure it reaches you safe and sound?  How much might that cost you?


2.  Make a List.  In fact, make TWO lists.

If after all of this research, you’ve decided that it makes financial sense to buy product or restock at a tradeshow, the next step is to make a list.  Make one list of NEEDS and another list of WANTS.  This will help you not totally lose your mind and buy 27 pots of glitter in a cornucopia of vibrant colors you will NEVER use in your commercial or bridal business but you just couldn’t resist.

Spend your money wisely and don’t get “discount-blind.”


3.  Pack a Snack

Tradeshows can be long days.  Sometimes, a good chunk of that time is spent standing in line at a booth.  There are usually vendors there for food, but they can be pricey — after all, it’s the convenience of not leaving the venue.  🙂  But!  If you have some granola bars, a bag of fruit, or perhaps a sandwich and bottle of water or two stashed in your bag, you have just saved some money AND you can eat it while you’re standing in line.  That’s called “thrifty multitasking!”  For real though, if you refuse to bring your own food, definitely bring a water or two.  When you get hundreds or thousands of people in a venue — all milling about — it can get warm and stuffy.  Water is your friend.

tradeshow shoes

4.  Wear Comfy Shoes

We just talked about shoes last week!!  Let’s put that into practice and wear something practical yet cute so you can walk around the show all day, stand in lines, and not cry when you get back to the hotel.  You can still find something cute that isn’t a stilleto knee-boot or 5″ platform pump.  Ultimately, it’s up to you.  It’s just one day, and if you are accustomed to toughing out a day in a fabulous but torturous shoe, then more power to you.  If not, a tradeshow is probably not the place to bust out that new sexy pair of heels.


5.  Network!

Lots of show-goers seem to forget about the major benefit of a tradeshow — to meet other artists!  These events bring together hundreds, if not thousands, of people who all share a similar passion — makeup!  Bring your business cards and mingle!  How do you mingle at a tradeshow?  Go to seminars, go to the classes, talk to people standing in line!  Just put yourself out there and make some connections!  You never know who you’ll meet!

Do you have any tips for making the most of a tradeshow?  Share them with us in the comments!

Tips & Lessons for the Aspiring Professional Makeup Artist. Sign up Today!

similar news

Scroll to Top