To avoid another post-less month, I will make this one uber easy — in bullet form! Diving right into Part 4: THE SHOW!
GETTING READY FOR SHOWTIME:
- Dress comfortably and wear comfy shoes even if you have soft flooring, ultimately you’ll be standing all day so your feet will get sore, but ease the pain and don’t wear heels.
- Eat breakfast! Use the restroom, fill up your water bottle and bring snacks because you’ll be stuck in your booth all day.
- Hide all of your belongings and extra supplies — the IKEA storage boxes did wonders.
- Arrive early every morning to tidy, organize your supplies (catalogues, business cards etc.) and to see if anything fell overnight.
- Put 20 press kits in the media room but save some for your booth as well, buyers will ask if they didn’t get a chance to go upstairs.
- BREATHE :)
- Don’t eat or use your phone in your booth. Water bottles are ok if you take quick sips, but a big no no to coffee cups. It looks uber unprofessional.
- Smile like you mean it!
- Don’t ask for business cards if they don’t offer or seem like they’ll give one to you. Offer an email sign up sheet so attendees can voluntarily give you their info (a lot of people ran out of cards and others who weren’t buyers wanted to stay in touch for possible future projects).
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions! I had no idea what dropship meant, haha!
- Take retailers’ suggestions and follow up with them after the show, especially if you adjusted products based on their advice.
- Staple all business cards you receive in a notebook and jot down everything you can remember about the person(s) and the convo you just had. Do this immediately after they leave your booth. You will talk to so many people, you’ll need help remembering who you met!
- Lead retrieval is not necessary. It felt pretty invasive when vendors in the supply side asked to scan me… it was weird. Then I got a bunch of spam mail after the show, and I’m still removing my email from lists to this day.
- Don’t be too conservative with freebies and catalogues, or anything you intend on giving away; I had a ton left over!
- Don’t stand around and be awkward. Do something. Leave some mundane tasks to do when you don’t have visitors, like writing your booth number on your business cards or putting together press kits.
- Have two chairs/stools, one for you and one for the buyer. You’ll need a decent writing surface to calculate your order totals, and the buyer will appreciate the chance to sit and organize themselves.
- Rope off your booth with a simple piece of string/tape as a friendly “do not enter” signal. The illusion of a fenced off space helped but some people are jerks and will steal. The most important thing to remember at the end of each day is to bring all documents with you, especially order forms with client/credit card info. I didn’t put away my colourful pens and freebies the first night so people took them! Put away anything you don’t want people to snag because they will help themselves!
- Dress how you want to represent your brand, some people looked like they were in uniform and others were mostly casual but still put together.
- I had the most buyers visit me on the second day. The first day was more about visits from bloggers, students and press, but because Day 2 was a work day the buyers were on the clock and stuck around longer. I sat a lot more because you could tell when there was going to be lulls (usually after 3pm). This was when exhibitors had a chance to take breaks, mingle and walk the aisles.
- If you want a swag bag from the Paper Party, arrive uber early!
- Walk Surtex if you get the chance.
- Soak it all in, you’re in New York City with your own booth at the National Stationery Show! What what!
- A lot of people wanted to bolt out of there, but take your time and try to salvage what you can
- Pack wisely, if you’re checking bags keep in mind the max weight limit your airline allows. Maybe bring a small postal scale to avoid paying for extra fees when you’re at the airport.
- Don’t forget anything, bring your packing list and cross off all of the things you want to take back home.
- Say goodbye to all of your awesome neighbours!
TOP QUESTIONS FROM BUYERS:
- What is your opening minimum?
- What is the cost per card?
- Are you the artist?
- What is your turnaround?
- What is your printing process?
- Where are you based?
- When did you start the company?
- What is your thought process for the designs?
NEXT TIME (things I would do differently):
- Arrive one full day before my scheduled setup to avoid airport drama
- Bring less catalogues and line sheets
- Spend more time on pre-show mailers
- Display more prints
- Ship heavy supplies to the hotel ahead of time (!!!)
- Work on the catalogue many many months ahead of printing deadline
- Figure out less expensive wall/shelving options (even though Manny Stone did an amazing job, it was really pricey)
- Meeting everyone in person after months of chatting online!
- Hanging out with Michelle from Chelleline and Bambs from Think and Ink Studio — Ladies, you made my entire show experience superbly fantastical. It’s because of you two that I had such an amazing time. Love you both!
- Getting orders (not going to lie) and having a booth led me to a bunch of new projects I can’t wait to share with you. Yes, it takes a while post-show for the ball to get rolling and to see the ROI, but so far it’s proven to be worthwhile.
- Exhibiting at NSS was honestly a dream come true. Never did I think it would be my first show, and a successful one at that!
And there you have it folks, a very abbreviated version of my take on NSS (because I started writing in complete sentences and it was way too long!). Feel free let me know if you have any questions or comments, whatsoever! Next up, Part 5: The Cost Breakdown!