Monday, March 31, 2008

The Trade Shows

Here's a subject I have zero expertise on. So if you're reading this, and you've done these, I'm looking at you. (you in the sense that I'd like your input and insights, so put it in the comments section or email me).
I had a choice of the first major trade show I would do. It was either going to be the Today's Parent Show in Toronto, or the One of A Kind Craft Show, also in Toronto. Strictly by the statistics, you may disagree with my choice. One of a Kind can pull 250,000 people through the doors over the course of a week. Large audience. And beyond that, it truly is a marketplace, meaning people come to buy. The Today's Parent Show boasts 16000 people through the doors over 3 days. I went with the second one for a few reasons:
1. Smaller show, easier to get your feet wet.
2. Aimed directly at my target audience.
3. Parenting Media out in full force at the Parent Show.
4. Some direct sales, but this wasn't the point.

I am trying to take the long view that the more I get the word out, and the more exposure I can get for Smicko'z, the more I will create a brand. And once I've created a brand, I will create more retail opportunities. I wasn't certain One of A kind could do that. Now don't get me wrong, I want to sell product. I have just this morning fedexed off the package to One of A Kind for their Christmas show. It's juried, and it's not a for sure that they'll accept Smicko'z. But if they do, I will likely get to move a lot of product there - which will be great at chipping away at start up costs. I have decided to carry those costs longer. Some might think it's odd, to choose to stay in debt longer. But as I said, this is my long view, and it may be wrong. And truthfully, if I were to sell out of the first production run, I would use whatever capital there is, plus draw on the same debt to create the second run. Now, it may be smarter to create the second run. I already know (from the dynamic working framework) that my second run costs will be about 10% less than my first production run. And having a second run shows that you're there to stay.

I have a 10' by 10' booth over at Today's Parent. Inside will be this crazy carpet I purchased, a table, two wire displays full of product, (with these fabulous large dolls on top of them, each wearing a Smicko, thanks Darcy at DEW) my bannerstand (thanks Altered Perceptions), a clothesline accross the back with each Smicko hanging from the wood clips, and some Smicko's materials and the Moneris machine layed out accross the table.

Firstlly, a word about Moneris. You can be up and running and taking Visa/Mastercard/Debit in about 5 minutes with a portable machine. I was psyched when I received this in the mail. There are user costs associated - but I decided it would be a little too minor league to not take credit cards. Secondly, they track everything, and spreadsheet it for you at the end of the event. You can buy/rent/or special event these handy little machines. Special event is the most economical for now. The booth next to me, Tail Wags Helmet Covers rents hers. But she's years into this, and I am months. Incidentally, Karen over at Tail Wags has also been a huge piece of my network, advising me on a lot of small business start up and penetration (thanks Karen!).

The show is 3 days, 10-6 each day. And I've got two beautiful and amazingly energetic women volunteering to man the booth with me. Partiatlly so I can wander to other booths and introduce myself to anyone and everyone there that should be selling Smicko'z and networking with Smicko'z. More terror on my part. The public speaking face for three days straight. Anyone have any advice on the approaches?


Patricia said...

I just wanted to wish you all the luck at the trade show!! I know how exciting it is.
I've done a couple of small ones and I was absolutely terrified the first time. But it get easier, trust me :-)
Just be yourself, know whom you're marketing for and be enthusiastic. Smile lots and in your case, try to put one of your smicko'z in children that are accompanying their parents. Just say, here's let's see how this looks on you/your little one. People like to actually try things on. They can see, even touch it but it's not the same until they get to try it on. Or in your case, see your creation on their kids :-)
I market safe cleaners to parents with children who have asthma and/or allergies like what happened to me. And I've done a couple of hand's on demos with parents and once they try the products, they buy them.
Also, it'd be helpful if you could create a seven second "spill" about your product. I found this amazing ebook (author is Kim Klaver) that I used to develop my answer to the dreaded "so what do you do" question. It helps you sell with your "hot button" instead of their.
For you in becomes easier because you're just marketing one item. For people like me, where the company has different lines of products is a bit trickier :-)
So good luck to you and wishing you much success.
Also, I'd like to ask you if it'd be ok to post your website in my local mom's forum group. I think there'd be some interest. Besides, there's a mom there who owns a little local store called groovymama and she sells one of a kind items and who knows, maybe she'd be interested in carrying some smicko'z.
Oh, by the way, I'm in Regina, Saskatchewan.

To your success,


Smicko Lady said...

Thanks so much! I think you make some great points - love the idea of the 7 second spill, sort of a you've got 7 seconds to make it or break it, right?
I would be thrilled if you'd post me in your local mom network. I honestly believe that things like this spread through the mom network, and it's the moms themselves that begin demanding what they want to see in stores.
Thanks for reaching out from SK!
Smicko Lady