August 2, 2007.
The Show....finally, sheesh!
If you are a superstitious type of person, the first day of the Atlanta Gift Show would have probably freaked ya out! It landed on Friday the 13th...ooooh ahh ha ha ha, oooh ah ha ha ha(that was my creepy sound). We arrived at the booth just minutes before the show opened. It was very exciting and nerve wracking, you should see some of the early bird buyers were standing, waiting to get into the children's section - a security guard was holding them back. I personally felt very smug and important (make a note this was the LAST time I felt that way the entire week) as I showed my exhibitor badge and marched over to my booth.
Friday was very busy - we both ran out of our price lists and London actually had to regulate the brochures she handed out due to the fact that.....well they were going so fast. We were literally up out of our seats every five minutes, we did not get to finish (I mean gulp down in 4 bites or less) our meals without being interrupted - I am NOT complaining, this was good!
Now, once again I want to step back and say that you should have some goals for the show - so even if you do not sign up 345 (come on really? Isn't that goal a bit lofty?) new accounts at the show - did you make good contacts? Did you make TOO lofty a goal for yourself? Did sales rep court you to sell your products? Was your booth busy? Each day is different at the show, each booth is different EACH day. Assess each day - don't jump the gun, or you know hang the noose. And by all means wait till you get home - I think I mentioned I have had stores purchase samples that saw me exhibit at the ABC Kids Expo (3 years ago) this past year.
Soooo...Friday was one of the best days, we (me) wrote one of (not biggest) our largest store orders ever. We also had some re-orders from existing accounts. We also had amazing ( and orders) feed back on our new Style Guide - it features all 251(cha-ching!) different product designs for the stores to keep in there store - twice a year we will send our new products for them to update the binder. This brilliant idea was NOT mine.....kudos to uh, well okay kudos to London. Without giving too much away - it is really brilliant, and it helps if your product is personalized and the customer needs to order something theme based.
A few Trade Show Mantras (these help, trust me.....)
I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them........sorry minor 80's Whitney Houston flashback. As I was saying, I believe it takes months till I will know exactly how successful this show was. I will have to wait to see who gets in contact to order products AFTER the show, or which possible editor got my information, got my press packet, or reads my blog (psst....hey O Magazine!! Send my best to Oprah!) If your first day at the show was awful, then girl - hike up your big girl panties, go out and have a couple drinks (no, no NOT seven, put the cosmo down....just a few) and get ready to knock them dead DayTwo! I always try to have a positive attitude before attending the show and when at the show, (at least till the last day, then I am totally poopy) people can tell this. I swear buyers smell desperation a MILE away too!
Now if you are at the show and you have spent the money, I do not mean give away the farm, or sign on hardware stores just to cover your costs. I mean get as many accounts interested in your line as possible. For example we are pretty much chock full of websites, we are done taking any new ones on.....however I met a few at the show that I may consider taking on. At the very least get some information on the "channel" you think you don't need.....because you might NEED them someday. Towards the end of the show (or if you are me and you sell birth certificates) Grandma's with sales contracts, tend to want to purchase items for their grandchildren, and they do not want to pay minimums. I do not shoo them away, I do not blurt out our minimums - I give them a catalog and say nicely, you can order from our website. Secondly, if it is a new store with a limited budget - be kind, you should recall what it was like when you were starting out and NO ONE would talk to you. I always think of that store that gave me a break.....maybe lower your minimums for this little store. I personally will not squabble over a measly $14.00 or $43.00 - make the sale!
Take the Good, the Bad & (you knew it was coming) the Ugly
Busy booth=Busy Show, just looks good, even if you did not make that $500 deal with Barneys! Did people say nice things about your products? Were they interested? Find out what they like about the products. Find out things about the store, and sell it sister! I mean work it - the growth, the press, the sales, the product, the celebrity endorsements - pump your chest out like a man (sorry, could not resist) and brag about your company. Just talking to people and getting your story out- that can equal a successful show!
Sharing a booth with your competitor, or a company that generates (Prayer Plates...the South, uh, the bible belt...really, need I say more?) lots of interest can be a bit daunting. Now, I am not saying we are competitive, but really people know My Little Dish, and I think her display was better and well, buyers LOVED her products. And she does lay on the Southern Charm waaay better than me, no seriously she just has the cutest damn products, or as they say in the South, "Shut up, could you just die Mama!"
The competitive nature of those around you really comes out after the first day. It is a damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Here is what I mean - if you are doing great, writing orders, people are in your booth - those vendors around you will hate you, look at you and say, "What do they see in that?" If your booth is vacant, does not seem to be busy, those vendors around you will stand around and say, "Poor them, jeez this booth must have cost a fortune.....I can not see why people would order that." Okay I am making generalizations here - but I have been on both sides of this fence, and even at the same show - just different days. I have talked the talk to these people - I swear I have!
Make sure and have a very thick skin when you do a Trade Show, and don't, I repeat do NOT start to re-think your whole business and product line while at the show. London and I were looking around and discussing dreamily how great it would be to just un-pack baby blankets and burp cloths........so lightweight, so easy to fold.....ooh........oh sorry there I go again - I was fantasizing about the cost of shipping light weight blankets, sorry. See what I mean? You are there to sell, put on a big smile and sell! Pat yourself on the back and don't worry about those around you - you have no idea what they are thinking...........just be positive!