Friday, February 8, 2013

Day 79: My List of What to Bring for a First-Time Trade Show

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I'm psyching myself up. Monday I might might might book a table at CHA for summer 2013. Normally the winter CHA (Craft & Hobby Association) is where it's at, but this year they've come up with a new format and new location (Vegas) that seems like it has a lot of potential. And, like the dieter who only ever works out when accompanied by a workout buddy, I've managed to talk a co-conspirator into signing up for a table and now feel like I have to do it too (in a good way).

So here's the list I wrote up of everything to bring. Honestly, I've been talking about having a booth at CHA for three or four years now, so most of it is done already (yea). Still, lots of booth design prep to get the above hideous blue & white display to be something pretty and memorable.

CHA Tradeshow To-Do List

Before show:
  • ASAP/ongoing: build contact list of potential stores, distributors, etc.
  • Make as many examples of what people can do with piddix collage sheets as possible or solicit/trade for samples from current customers…especially jewelry, glass tiles, magnets, buttons and other small items that can be easily displayed
  • 1-2 months beforehand. Pre-show marketing. Facebook, newsletter, etc. to promote what booth will be in.
  • 2-6 weeks beforehand send out one to two emails to list with "show special." Something like "bring this email to booth #2340 to pick out $10 in free collage sheets." Also offer at-show-purchase incentive, such as "free shipping or 10% off for any orders placed at CHA."
  • Prep a generic after-show/follow-up email beforehand so it's ready to be altered and go out within the first two weeks after the show.
To bring:
  • MacGyver Kit for emergency fixes: scissors, Duct tape, regular tape, black sharpie, glue/glaze, jewelers pliers.
  • Office supplies: calculator, pencils, pens
  • 100+ large sample packs that include: catalog, order forms, pricing/terms, 3 collage sheets, business card in mylar sleeve
  • 50-100+ small sample packs of individual collage sheets in mylar sleeves with "sell sheet"-like flyer/contact information on back, about this size.
  • 500 business cards
  • 10+ digital collage sheet CDs
  • Hard-back piddix journal and stapler for business cards and taking notes
  • Envelope with all boarding passes, tickets, CHA-show contract, etc. printed out to have just in case.
  • Bring computer with excel order forms and have dedicated person on-site for taking any in-person orders. Create PDF on-site from order form and ask if they'd like it mailed and/or emailed.
  • Way to take credit cards (square, for example)
  • Banner for front of table
  • Own tablecloth?
  • Custom pipe framing to build four feet off table. Use to display hanging jewelry examples
  • Way to display as many collage sheets as possible (have to think about this one)
  • If allowed, two additional small bar-height tables set perpendicular to each end (similar to these) to add variety and dedicated area for placing orders
  • Some kind of under-the-desk storage that makes it easy to find catalogs, business cards, pens, etc. without hunting, maybe like these?
  • Something that stands out that gives someone an excuse to comment/start conversation. First year it was a pink stripe in my hair. This year it was my funky skirt from anthropologie
  • Also "wear" my product in necklace, journal, skirt with images on it, etc.
  • White chocolate macadamia nut Luna Bars
  • Waterbottle
  • Breath mints
  • Advil
  • Extra outfit or two since I inevitably spill a burrito all over myself
  • All that other packing stuff (clothes, lip gloss, etc.)
Attitude & Expectations:
  • Whenever I walked by the new booth section at CHA this year, it often seemed pretty dead. By the second day most exhibitors were sitting behind their booths looking bored. However, the ones that were engaging and relevant (like the woman from Sticky Sticks who has five young boys and tons of excited energy) stood out.
  • Less than 5000 people attended CHA this year, which seems tiny...about half the size of the larger handmade craft shows like Crafty Wonderland. So the numbers aren't huge, but the people who attend are very serious about being there. Just one or two amazing contacts from CHA makes the whole trip worthwhile.
  • I'll be prepping for hundreds of booth visitors and dozens of orders, but my goals is to get orders from three new stores and to make good contacts with sales reps and distributors. Most likely I'd be bummed if no one placed an on-site order, but I've frequently heard that's not that rare and it's often all the follow-up afterwards that makes it worthwhile.
Some helpful links and blogs for other first-timers:

Check back Monday to see if I've chickened out again.

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