Saturday, April 05, 2014

The Business Chat - Happy dance, you're in!

Oh boy oh boy oh boy! The envelope came! And oh joyous day, it said...

“congratulations, you have been accepted into our show.”

Oh giant happy dance! 

In the middle of your happy dance, all of a sudden reality slams you. Holy cow, you’re in that huge show you’ve always dreamed of being in! But the show is huge, and you’ve never done a show that big. Now what? 

First, you should note the cancellation date and policy. Just in case something comes up.

The second thing you should do is to make a schedule for the show. You don’t want to leave anything until the night before. 

Start making lists for inventory, how much do you need to make? Of what? This leads you to the next list, your supplies. What do you need to buy and when are you going to buy it? 

Now start a third list for your production schedule. Again, don’t leave it all to the last minute. 

Think about your marketing materials. Do you have enough packaging? Business cards? What about your signs? If you need to have these made how long do they take? It’s always more expensive to leave this stuff to the last minute.

Then start thinking about your display. Are there any special requirements for the show? One of your best show tools is a good display checklist. Every single thing that you need for the show goes on a list, right down to the stapler and the pens. 

Setting up your display in advance is always a good thing but most of us don’t have the space or can’t get it together to do this. Sit down and brainstorm. It’s much easier to pack your car when you have a list telling you “3 tables, 3 tablecloths, double-sided tape”. (the double sided tape is to hold the table cloth onto the table so it can’t be pulled off by small kids).

Keep all these lists together on a clipboard, I have one clipboard per show on my desk, I find it easier to refer to than online files.

As it gets closer to the show date and your display starts coming together it’s a really good idea to create a booth set up list. Setting up your booth or table is going to take a lot longer than you thought and you’ll be doing this very early in the morning. A set up list is also really useful if you have anyone helping you. Rather than them staring at you saying “what do I do now?” you just show them the list.

To create your set-up list think about setting up. Literally walk yourself though this mentally. Here’s an example:
First I set up the table then I put the tablecloth on. Then I put up my signs. Then I put the risers on. Then the earring stands. Then I put the earrings on the stands, and so on.

About a month before the show you should start publicizing your participation. It is the organizers job to get people to the show, it is your job to get people from the entrance to your booth. 

You have to let all your customers know that you will be there. (You do have a mailing list, right? If not, now is the time to start one.) If you send out newsletters, make sure you add the show to it. Add the show to whatever social media that you use. It’s best to publicize 2 - 3 weeks before an event. If you tell people too far in advance they forget, if you tell them to close they may have other plans. 

It’s early in the spring, and your show may not be until next fall. While it’s tempting to put your acceptance letter on your bulletin board and wait, now is the time to get working. 

As you stand in your booth at show opening, with every thing all nicely laid out, all ready to make your fortune while your neighbours scramble to finish you’ll be thankful that you were so organized for the past 6 months.

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