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Learning from Another Market for Scrapbooking 

Gaining a broader perspective on your business.

by Sandra Joseph, Reminders of Faith (Sept. 20, 2004)

Stepping onto the show floor at the Christian Booksellers Convention in July was very similar to my first trade show in the craft industry. In July, 2000, I walked into the ACCI show not knowing a soul, but aware that I had a mission to fulfill as well as a passion for learning everything I could about this industry. Over the course of time, doors were opened and contacts were made, allowing me to work in the field I loved.

The Christian Booksellers Convention is a specialized association that caters to the Evangelical Christian market. The bulk of their business entails book sales, though they also have a strong focus on music and specialized gift products. Their demographics are very similar to those of the traditional scrapbook audience.

I have benefitted greatly from the experience of observing another industry’s trade show process and gaining yet another perspective on how different industries "do" business. Below are some of the key areas I believe to be different from that of our own industry’s trade shows:

CBA’s show floor was equipped with an interactive member center that proved to be very user-friendly. At this center, I could find industry statistics and marketing tools, as well as trained association staff members waiting to help me. In addition, this booth provided shipping information, merchant account information, and computers to check email during the show. Another bonus was that the CBA president had a scheduled meeting time every day at this center, so that if attendants wanted to meet with him or the CBA staff, it was simple to know when and where to be. This center proved to be invaluable to me as I strived to learn more about this industry.

A very effective part of the CBA show was the newspaper that is published daily. Because there were so many different events taking place at this show, such as book signings, concerts, and seminars/workshops, this daily show publication promoted participating companies and events. The first thing I did each day when I entered the show was pick up a newspaper to learn what was happening that day on the show floor, what had happened the day before in terms of show traffic and sales, and initiated interviews with key people. Having this newspaper accessible really helped me feel as though I could manage the show.

One of the biggest parts of the CBA show was the Personality Booths that were arranged around the perimeter of the show floor. Each day, the different popular authors, musicians, and speakers signed their new releases or bestsellers at scheduled times. Announcements of the personality booth’s schedule were published in the daily newspaper as well as at each booth. This was a wonderful opportunity for the retailers who sell these authors’ works to meet and greet the each other. Attendees actually planned their days around the different personalities’ schedules. In addition, there were many personality events scheduled in booths on the show floor, which were also publicized in the daily newspaper and at the booth itself. I really enjoyed meeting the personalities, as it made me feel as though I was a part of their industry.

Just as we give away paper and stickers, this industry gives away books – and lots of them! So many that they maintained a special shipping area off the show floor so that the retailers could ship the books home without having to take them off the show floor. What a service!

This year, my second at CBA, was an exciting one for me as our company, Reminders Of Faith, had the privilege of displaying our products on the CBA show floor. I was privileged to conduct a book signing in our distributor’s booth, and was very pleased when guests began lining up for the signing 20 minutes before the event actually began. I signed over 150 books, exceeding our allotted time by more than 20 minutes, until we ran out of books. It was encouraging to see how the CBA welcomed our books and products.

By looking outside our industry and learning about another target market, Reminders of Faith has been able to introduce more people to scrapbooking. It has been a pleasure to combine my two passions, scrapbooking and my faith, in both industries. I encourage others to continue to look outside our immediate industry and venture where no one knows you so you, too, will have the opportunity to introduce them to our creative industry.

If you are interested in details on ways to target new markets, in the September Craftrends issue, look for my article entitled, "Crossing Markets: Finding new customers outside of the craft market."

(Note: Sandra Joseph is the President of Reminders Of Faith, Inc and the former National Director of Memories Community. She is the author of Scrapbooking Your Spiritual Journey, editor of "The Crop Corner" column for Scrapbook Premier magazine, has hosted hundreds of scrapbookers in crop events and taught various marketing trade classes. Reminders Of Faith (www.remindersoffaith.com) specializes in books and paper craft products that will remind future generations of their ancestors' religious faith. Email Sandra at sandraj@remindersoffaith.com.

Note: For more information about the Christian Booksellers Association, visit www.cbaonline.org. To read previous Memory columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.



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