The National Stationery Show (PART FOUR)

Posted June 28 2013

Hi guys! It is my last installment of the NSS posts series. I hope you've been enjoying them thus far! I've shed some light on our overall experience, our booth, and our budget so today I wanted to talk a bit about the goals we set forth going into the show and if we were able to achieve them in this first year. Everyone's goals will vary, and really, if you only set one and that is showing up in one piece then that's a great goal to have and achieve! We felt pretty confident going in that we'd be able to show a solid range with a clean, well-thought out booth, so our goals are more for what we would be taking away from NSS. Ok here goes!

GOAL 1: Make Our Investment Back

Our first goal, and I should mention that these goals don't appear in any particular order, was to make the money back that we spent to exhibit at the show. Now there are two parts to this, one is making it back via orders written at the show and the other is making it back with those and orders/opportunities following the show. I will tell you, we did not make our money back in orders at the show. We weren't terribly far from it, but alas, we did not recoup every penny. We are, however, well on our way to making it all back with the addition of orders and events that have occurred post-show. As mentioned before, NSS is a great place to get the word out about your brand. There are many shops that may not get to attend that will see you online or in the press. Many times if you're a good fit for their shop and they have the budget they'll email you to get your wholesale materials to then write an order. So with that two part answer to this goal, I'm going to say NO, we did not make our investment back....but with a big caveat of not YET

GOAL 2: Get Into 20 New Shops

A goal going into the show was to have our cards in 20 new shops. I am happy to report that, YES, we hit this goal! What is more important than the number of shops is the quality of those shops. When doing our research on shops to contact for our pre-show mailers, we made a tier A and a tier B. Tier A were obviously shops that we greatly adore and would be floored to be a part of. Tier B consisted of wonderful shops that we thought would also be a good fit, but perhaps weren't ones that we had come to our minds first. I hope this makes sense. We are flattered by any reputable shop that would like to work with us, but I don't see any harm in defining for your brand what shops are your top picks. (Next year, we'd like to add 25-50 more shops to our list! Dream big, right!?)

GOAL 3: Get Media Coverage

We were honored to appear on numerous design and lifestyle blogs and we even got a write up in the Daily NSS magazine made for each day of the show! It sounds funny, but Instagram was also a huge marketing tool for us. When shops, brands, and bloggers post pics of your booth and products that just amounts to more coverage and eyeballs on your products. What a better environment than at a tradeshow with all of your products lovingly on display when it comes to media snapping pics? So YES, goal achieved. 

GOAL 4: Network

This was one of the most fun parts of the show! We met lots of fellow paper pushers and retailers that we have admired from afar up until the show. It was such a pleasure putting faces to names and getting to fawn over their lovely products and hearing about the shops we love. This is also a great opportunity to ask questions and learn. We also had a chance to network with suppliers and gather new leads on materials for future product development. YES, goal met.

GOAL 5: Be Open to New Leads and Possibilities

This show is funny in that you work so hard on what you're going to show that you forget that there is a whole world of custom design and licensing prospects. We were approached by representatives from companies that were particularly interested in our s&p line of modern animal designs and asked if we did any custom designing or licensing. To be honest, I wasn't totally prepared to have those conversations at the show, but have been doing quite a bit of follow-up now that the show has wrapped. Licensing and custom designing can be very lucrative and should certainly factor into your initial investment to exhibit at any tradeshow. It can be tough to track down an email to pitch your ideas at larger companies, but when your'e speaking with them face to face and they are getting to see your full range for themselves, it can make the process speed up dramatically and with much success. We also discovered the world of distribution and how that can work, especially overseas. So, to summarize, licensing inquires and distribution deals, YES, goal certainly met when it comes to possibilites beyond just wholesale orders.

In Closing:

I can tell you that we have been working our butts off since the show has ended. Preparing for a tradeshow like NSS is no joke and can be exhausting  The thing is, there is an immense amount of work that will still need to occur after the show. Now that our first round of June orders are on store shelves, we are gearing up for round two in July and working through some of those exciting new leads and opportunities mentioned above. It is also time to start planning for new releases, specifically Holiday launches, and getting the word out to our current and prospective retailers. Dare I even mention that we are already starting to think about 2014 NSS!? Oh yes, the emails for contracts are already starting to hit our inboxes from the show management. Eeeep! What I've ascertained is that it is a cycle and with that comes a new way of planning, scheduling, budgeting, and thinking. It would be an understatement to say that I have learned a lot being a part of this show. It really can be a game-changer and an exciting way to grow your brand. The experience was wonderful and I look forward to 2014!

THANK YOU for reading along and as always if you have any questions about anything I have covered feel free to leave a comment!

----- NSS Parts ONETWO, and THREE-----