Exhibiting at the New York Gift Fair is always an emotional roller coaster for me, and this show was no different. (Though I do think I held it together a little longer than usual in the pre-show planning phase.) Between show prep, the expense of doing the show, and the length of the show itself (5 days is loooooong), it can be exhausting. I had planned on taking this show off, but when they called to offer me a smaller (read: cheaper) booth, I decided to go for it. I thought I would do a little summary of things that went well, and things I plan on working on for next time.
What went well:
- Pre-show planning. Up until about a week before the show, I was fairly confident in my pre-show preparations. Early on, I made myself a to-do list, timeline, and budget, so I knew what I was in for.
- Pre-show promotion. I put together a mailing list containing current accounts, stores I wanted to attract, and some press, and then sent everyone a postcard pre-show. I got a few people telling me that they had received the card (always a good sign) but mostly I was proud of the fact that I was able to accomplish this task that often gets forgotten.
- Using photography in my booth. I spent a lot of time developing product shots that helped tell the story of the cozy/cuff, and got a lot of positive feedback on them. It really helped communicate what the product is all about.
- Networking. Part of going to a trade show is meeting new contacts, and I think I did a good job of that. I had some really great neighbors, and it was nice to discuss various ups and downs of promoting products and running a business. I also got to meet other designers who read this blog (hi!) which was great! And, I went to a party for Readymade magazine (by myself!) and made it a point to talk to people I didn’t know.
Things to improve for next time:
- Pre-show stress levels. This show was better than the last, but I really need to continually improve my level of preparedness so that I’m not freaking out before I get to the show. (I’m sure my husband would appreciate that as well.)
- Using text in my booth. While I think the photos did a good job conveying the product and my brand, I think some well placed text would do wonders to communicate my product and my brand.
- My sales pitch. After a few shows worth of interactions with buyers, I can say that I’m getting better, but I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m not really a natural sales person (I always worked food service, not retail jobs.) While I am totally comfortable getting up and talking to a room of 200 people (or the 16 students in my class) I have a harder time pitching my product to an individual.
I have one more post-show goal, which is following up on leads. I talked to a lot of buyers at the show, and took a lot of business cards, so I need to make sure I’m following up with them to try to drive more sales.
Overall, I was happy with the way the show went. New York Gift continues to be my main, go-to show, and I don’t see that changing in the future. Often, these shows are about having a consistent presence. (What’s that saying? Someone needs to see your product seven times before they purchase it.) While that seven times rule doesn’t always hold true, I think there are buyers who need to see you a few times before they write an order. I came out of this show feeling like I positioned myself well for the August show. So fingers crossed and full steam ahead! (You can bet I’ll be starting on my to-do list for the August show VERY soon!)
Note: In the recent reader survey, some of you mentioned that you’d like to know a little bit more about me. I’ve updated the about page with a little bit more on my background and experiences running my craft/design biz. I’ve also set up a formspring page, so you can ask me anything!