Everything you need to know about Trade Shows – Part I

This post is a little later than I had intended because of Hurricane Sandy. Everyone below 40th street in NYC lost power. We were without electricity and hot water for five days and all work was suspended while we lived a life of yesteryear using candles, boiling water and walking five flights of stairs.

Dennis and Andrea working by candlelight

So now here is Everything you Need to Know about Trade Shows Part I.

Each year it’s good to plan in advance which trade shows you would like to attend. Do some research via networking; google and find out which companies will be at the show. Are there enough that fit your market categories to make it worth going? But you might consider going even if there aren’t.  You will you see the latest trends and they may inspire you to develop your own new ideas. Plan on going to at least one or two.

If you decide to go, the next step is to make your wish list for the year. Some wishes may work out and others may fall by the wayside. That’s natural.

Then make your hotel and plane reservations. For Atlanta there was a service that made  your hotel and plane reservations. Or if you wanted to do them yourself as I did the Atlanta booking service or the airlines (Delta) could give you your code so that you could get the attendees discount.

Book your hotel early – and I mean early – for Atlanta and probably for most of the big shows. I booked for January 2013 back at the end of July and booked for the July 2013 show around the same time. I even tried to book for January 2014 but found out that I would have to wait till it was a year in advance.As I was rereading this I  made an entry in my iPhone calendar to call and book our hotel for January 2014 the first week in January.  The earlier you make your airline reservations the better a price you will get.

Then it’s time to start making your appointment calls. I began making mine for the July Atlanta show a month beforehand. With some companies that was okay, others wanted me to call closer to the show. I found that 8 or 8:30 AM was a good time to begin calling. And I made sure to keep this appointment with myself each morning for a month.

The appointment section of my word notebook


I kept all my notes in a word notebook.I found this very helpful. It was difficult to take a clear photo of the notebook from my computer. This is the best I could get. Basically it shows what I wanted you to see: The tabs on the right; this section on Atlanta appointments: how I kept a record of my calls.

I  created tabs for topics such as: Manufacturers, websites and blogs and other related categories..  I also kept detailed notes about what time I called and if I reached the contact.  I would then try again towards the end of my calling session usually around 11 am. At that point I would transfer all my scribbled notes to the work notebook. I found that if I waited a few days to make my entries I would be all mixed up. So DO IT THEN AND THERE.

In order to keep feeling good about the whole process, have some strategies and goals you want to reach. This makes it more of a challenge and even smacks a bit of game playing. But don’t feel let down  if you don’t meet your goals right away. And remember, be sure to give yourself rewards.

I wrote a phone script and used it at first, but then after a day of calling found that I didn’t need it anymore. I also searched “appointment calls” on google and got some good tips. It helped me to feel more professional. Be courteous and friendly to the assistant, receptionist or customer service people. You will enjoy it more that way and they can be very helpful to you.

In each successive post on the Everything you need to know about Trade Shows I will feature another manufacturer I met with at the July Atlanta Show.

Right now I’ll give you a little tour with me of my meeting with a valued licensing partner, Burton and Burton.

Libby Embry is not really one of Santa’s elves.

I had set up an appointment in advance with Libby Embry, creative Director.

Libby Embry and Maxine Burton at Surtex 2012

I also hoped to see and meet with Maxine Burton company owner and CEO. Maxine Burton is hard to pin down. She’s never in one place for too long. Look one way and there she is taking care of customers, or running into the back to check stock and orders. Next glance she is talking to one of her sales people. Hers is a super large showroom to supervise. Maxine and her husband Bob started this family business 50 years ago and have grown it from one small showroom to this huge space in the Gift Mart.

Christmas in July at the Burton and Burton Showroom

Halloween in July at the Burton and Burton Showroom

Burton and Burton Spring Showroom

This year they’ve added a new and separate Spring Showroom.

In addition to her full time job at Burton and Burton, Libby started her own on line business, Daisy Doodle on Etsy selling adorable and imaginative crocheted hats, creatures and accessories. It’s good to get to know your clients. It creates a more personal relationship and helps you to know them better. Seeing them as the creative people they are creates interest and trust.

Libby modelling hat band

Daisy Doodle Frog Hat on Etsy shop

I have a new collection of giftware which will be debuted at the Burton and Burton showroom in January. Dennis and I will both be going this time.

Savannah Afternoon Tote bag for Burton and Burton

The collection is called Savannah Afternoon and there are around 8 pieces in this collection including, picture frames, fabric and ribbons, planter, mug and more.

Savannah Afternoon Mug for Burton and Burton

Savannah Afternoon Collection, Balloon

Here is a preview from Part Two of Everything you need to Know about Trade Shows. It comes under the category of how artists show their designs.

Opening page of our i pad portfolio

We show our collections on our iPads. There are tabs along the left side for each category of design. Once you click on the tab you start the show rolling.

Thumbnails and full size images

Dennis used a program called Portfolio for iPads to set it up.  There are various ways to show the designs. Our preferred way is to have thumbnails along the bottom and one large image. Your client can easily scroll through either the thumbnails of the large version of the design.When they find something that interests them all they need to do is click on the thumbnail and the larger image appears.We’ve found that the iPad presesntation saves all parties a lot of time and all art directors now seem not only to like, but to expect it.

Next post I’ll cover these topics:

  1. Deciding what you goals are.
  2. How to approach a new company and make contact.  What questions you need to ask.  What you should expect at a meeting.
  3. How you should and want  to come across.
  4. How to establish a personal rapport that you can build on.
  5. How to be yourself and overcome anxiety.
  6. How to follow your instincts.
  7. How and when to do your follow thru.
  8. How you should dress. I googled many different ways to look at fashions for creative people. One of the helpful catch phrases was,”fashion for the artist” Most of what I found was for women. But guys please do not feel left out. I’m still searching around for some good sites.


Filed under Etsy, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Everything you need to know about Trade Shows – Part I

  1. Theresa duenzl

    I think your detailed illustrations with the notes are an excellent idea.
    Terry D

  2. Great description of your approach to trade shows. And I can’t overstate the importance of the point you made about developing a relationship with your manufacturing partners…nice article!

  3. Nancy

    Hey, wonderful job! Love the Savannah designs. xx Nancy

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