I love writing this Brick + Mortar column. Your responses are a highlight each month. Often the best conversations emerge in the comments section or via email after a post. Though I love talking through your questions one-on-on, I dreamed up this spin-off Q + A column because many of you had similar questions and I thought it would be fun and helpful to answer them in this format. (For those of you who have more extensive questions about your own line, I’ve also devoted a bit of time each month to one-on-one consulting.) Please submit any questions you have to me at [email protected]. Thank you so much for trusting me to be a part of your businesses. I can’t wait to hear from you and I hope you love this column as it evolves! â€“Emily of Clementine
Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper
I finally took the bullet and applied for National Stationery Show. But when I got my booth number, I freaked out that it was really far back and that no one would go to that section. I was curious if you could let me know if you walked that far back (near the supply side), or perhaps I could try to apply for the ‘fresh’ section?
I attached the NSS floor plan with my booth circled in pink so you can see my spot. Thank you SO MUCH for your help!
I hope you have a gloriously lovely day!
Dear Glorious Jenipher,
Congratulations! Applying to NSS is a huge, exciting step for a new line.
The great thing about trade shows is that there are literally endless things to freak out about. I truly wouldn’t worry about your location, especially for your first show. Location does matter, but most spots have pros and cons. NSS is a manageable size for retailers to walk. So rather than get into the potential pros/cons of your spot, which I think is pretty decent, by the way â€“ it’s in the 2200s and not too far out (Ed Note: You do have the option of requesting a new booth number from your NSS rep if you’re really really concerned, but yeah, the 2200 aisle is a great location. You’ll be in great company. â€“Nole), let’s focus on what you can do to make it a great spot for you.
- Target your retailers in advance. Make yourself a destination for them at NSS. Make a list of your existing and ideal retailers. Make sure you personalize your mailers to them and consider a show special or incentive to encourage them to visit. This is also a great year to create a memorable mailer â€“ a little buzz can go a long way to get retailers to visit (more on that in a later post!)
- Design an eye-catching booth. Dream big, sketch, brainstorm, look through old OSBP posts about NSS. Do it now! As you get closer, you’ll be knee deep in the nitty-gritty work of actually building your booth. If you don’t plan your design in advance, you may be too tired to give it the energy and it needs. I walk up and down almost all of the rows, but sometimes it’s just a quick sweep (an internal no, no, no, yes!) waiting for a booth to pull me in. So you could be right in the heart of the action, but if you don’t stand out, retailers will pass you by.
- Build your social media community. Start focusing on other stationery makers and retailers now. Check in with the NSS2015 hashtag to see how others are preparing. Give sneak peeks. Talk to retailers and your colleagues. Find them on Instagram now and start conversations. One of the best parts of NSS is the community you build that carries you through from one show to another. I think it will help ease some of the fears to go in feeling like you’re part of it.
A note about the Fresh section. I do think it’s a great thing to apply for in your first show, because:
- There are retailers who will check out that section just because they are interested; and
- You meet your peers, many of whom are sharing many of the same experiences. It’s exciting to grow together and maintain those friendships.
However, wherever you are, especially in your first year, your job is to draw retailers in and look fabulous when they get to you. You can focus on that no matter your location. See you in three months!
x + o! Emily