I am so sorry it has taken me so long to write. That was the craziest 6 days of my business career. What a rush!? The fact that I pretty much did everything all by myself has definitely given me a big ole’ confidence boost. I car pooled with friends who had a booth in a different building so we did have each other to ride with to and from the show every day. One of them (they are sisters) would stop by my booth once in the morning and once in the afternoon to give me a potty break. Lunch was me sneaking a bite of a protein bar while trying to look like I wasn’t chewing anything as folks walked by. The first 3 days I really wanted the cute factor so I wore cute shoes. Days 4 and 5, comfort won out and the Danskos came on. I even used inserts but there is no help for being on your feet from 8:30 – 6:00 every day. AmericansMart Gift and Housewares show is considered one of the best shows of its kind. It is an order writing show, so be prepared with pad’s in hand!? Grill Charms is now in 38 NEW stores because of those 5 days. Yep, I wrote 38 new orders during the show and since it was my first show, AND due to the economy they say that attendance was down by 60% over years past, everyone tells me I did fantastic. ?
When I arrived the day before the show, my shrink wrapped boxes on a skid were sitting in the middle of my 10×10 booth. There was nothing but white drapes on 3 sides, two tables, 1 chair, 2 risers and a trash can.? By the time I was done I had a carpeted space (yep, laid my carpet myself) which was totally in keeping with my brand and look complete with black and red drapes, signage, shelves and of course I wore nothing but black and red for 5 days straight! The best thing about the show was of course writing orders, but another very valuable aspect of doing these shows are the contacts you make and the knowledge you gain from fellow exhibitors.? After 5 days with the same people, your neighbors become a little family. Now I have the International Housewares show in March to look forward too. Apparently that one is even BIGGER.? I can’t imagine! I have got tons more work to do, leads to follow up with, more orders to enter and even a new sales rep I’ve hired. It was so worth it and a must do for anyone with a product. In 5 days I got almost as many stores as I did in a years worth of sales calls on my own. Back to work!
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charms www.grillcharms.com
Ok, so you’ve decided to do the show. NOW what?!?! There are two important things to do prior to the show.
1) Map out your booth, the design, the function, your needs, essentially how you will get the most of out of the booth
2) Make it known that you are going to be at the show.
This is a huge expense but the good thing is that you usually only need to make the investment the first year. My opinion is to keep it simple and clean. Don’t overcrowd your booth. You want to carry a consistent look and feel so create a booth that is a reflection of your company logo or packaging. You will need a few basic elements to pull this off;
1. BACKDROP WITH YOUR COMPANY/PRODUCT LOGO
I was lucky to have use of a pop-up display. But you can easily have a large banner made with your company logo to hang along the back of the booth.
2. SHELVES OR TABLE(S) TO DISPLAY YOUR PRODUCT(S)
I used a table with sides to demo the Color Bug and then had a Shipper full of product. That was it. I printed off graphics to cover the edges of the table and to place at the top of the shipper to reinforce the brand. Shippers are a great way to display the product on a piece of furniture that is light weight to ship. http://www.meridiandisplay.com/
3. CHAIR AND TABLE TO CONDUCT BUSINESS
I prefer to use a tall bistro table. You don’t need anything large and it’s nice to be able to stand and use the table. You should NEVER sit while working at the show so using tall barstools allows you to rest a little during slow periods but you are still at eye level. I have rented these items but could have also gone to Target, purchased them and thrown them out cheaper than what I paid. Unfortunately, doing a show in NYC makes it difficult to be able to do that. This year, I will most likely purchase all of my furnishings and just ship them back and forth.
4. FLOOR COVERING
Most shows (even the craft shows) do not include carpeting. You are required to cover the floor in your booth. I have rented my carpet but am looking into another option. This site gives you an idea of the options: http://www.matsmatsmats.com/commercial-industrial/trade-show/?Source=GOOGLEAW&KW=trade+show+carpet&gclid=CIaGhfC87JICFRItagodfF1c4A but I’m not promoting them based on the pricing this is something to look into. Again, unless you have some type of 10 X 10 remnant, I would bite the bullet and rent for the first year.
I feel that lighting makes a huge difference in gain attention as you walk down the aisle. There are numerous tradeshow lighting units but you can also find many creative options around your house or from the local hardware store. It doesn’t have to be fancy just so it highlights your backdrop and/or products. Keep in mind, electricity is another extra cost in the show. Your booth comes with NOTHING except a drape in the back and on the sides to designate your area.
Those are the basic elements you need to think about to set up your booth. The next things we need to discuss are the things you need WITHIN the booth for a successful show. And then we will get to the marketing piece.
“Bigness comes from doing many small things well. Individually, they are not very dramatic transactions. Together though, they add up.” Edward S. Finkelstein
Gwen Austin, RC Art Toys, Inventor of the Color Bug www.rcarttoys.com?
I always see so many posts about doing shows, so I thought I would add my two cents! Did I mention that I have over 10 years experience doing corporate event planning?!?!
So hopefully I can offer some insight, here are some FAQ I have seen (I will do several posts on this subject – so stay tuned!):
WHAT TYPE OF SHOWS ARE THERE AND WHAT TYPE IS BEST FOR ME?
Craft Shows- these are the most common and are great for most home businesses. They are often held at schools and most are done to raise money for the school or location it is being held at. They are usually pretty affordable to get into and bring in a fair amount of people. These are not high dollar shows and sales are typically on the low side. I do not recommend a craft show for a high dollar item. I highly recommend sticking with shows that have been happening for many years as those shows have loyal followers that will attend every year. These are usually noted in your local paper-but always ask around at your local schools, churches, synagogues – many are on a “who you know” basis! Also, many of these shows require that you donate an item or service that they can raffle off to make some additional money for the organization. Cost is typically under $100 for a 8×10 or 10×10 space and these shows probably bring in a couple hundred of people.
Art Shows – This is my target market. These shows are typically juried shows and it is not always easy to get in. They usually limit the number of vendors in each category (ex. they may only allow 2 jewelry vendors)…but this is a huge help to the exhibitors. These shows do bring in the people with more expendable income and those that are looking for “different” or the “latest and greatest”. They are more expensive to get into and can cost several hundred dollars, but again if this is the market you need to market to it is worth it right? Art shows do typically bring in several hundred people (geographics play a part here though–I had over 1,500 people at an art show I did last fall)
Street Fairs – this is an awesome way to just get your name out there! A mish mosh of thousands of people cramming the streets, seeing the sites and eating food. I do not find that people go to actually spend money-but they do love seeing new and unique things and they will spend money if they love what you got! I would really only recommend a street fair to someone who has a really unique item that will stand out among the hundreds of vendors that may be there. Thee is often 20 jewelry vendors at a street fair making it hard for any one specific to get noticed….these usually run about $100 or so to get into and there is no special criteria to get in to one.
WHERE DO I FIND A SHOW IN MY AREA?
3) local newspaper events calendar
4) check with local schools and churches
WHAT IS A JURIED SHOW?
A juried show is one where you will have to submit images and descriptions of the products you will be offering at the show. A committee from the show will determine whether you are accepted into their show. This is typically done in finer shows that really depend on the quality of their crafters to attract what is considered the “right” shoppers.
I AM A BRAND NEW BUSINESS-CAN I DO A SHOW?
A craft show at a school is a GREAT way to either launch a business or get feedback if you have a viable business. That is how I launched Expressions…I took a few collages and a book I had made for my daughter to a show to see what people would say (I was wearing my hard hat that day thinking people would hate it…) well the opposite happened…my booth was packed and I even got 2 customers from that show…that was almost 5 years ago! So, if you are just starting out–try a show…for a low cost you can see what other people HONESTLY think of you ideas……
That is all for this excerpt……so start looking for those shows and get your name out there!
Some other things I will BLOG about will be:
-cost effective marketing for your show
-ideas for displaying at shows
-what to do at the show
-what to do after the show….
If you have any questions please feel free to post and I will answer all questions!!!!!
Jill Caren, owner of Expressions Photo