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Challenges, problems, and triumphs -- from a manufacturer's perspective.

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Getting Ready For A Trade Show

Go MAD at HIA.

by "Vinnie Da Vendor"

(Note: "Vinnie" is a key exec for a major industry company. Sometimes he writes things that his customers may not want to hear, so he needs to remain anonymous.)

You bellied up to the bar yet again to participate in our industry’s greatest show on earth. I am not talking Barnum and Bailey’s Circus here. (Or am I?) I am talking about HIA. The payment was made long ago; how has the intense planning gone?

If I can get you to lay aside all the baggage I have just conjured up in your mind at the mention of HIA, maybe we can open our minds together in some areas typically taken for granted.

Why did we pay for the booth?

Be honest here. Is it because of all the wonderful objectives you have for 2004/2005? Or is it the simply because this is the industry’s largest show, your customers and competitors expect you to be there, and you do not want to lose your show points (which give you preference in booth position). I’ll let you make this determination.

So what’s our purpose?

So many craft vendors never get beyond the "everyone who’s anyone has gotta be there" syndrome. They simply start in December to throw stuff on the booth walls – new stuff from that year, and stuff for next year that they are working on.

Isn’t our purpose to market to those customers we do have, as well as to those we wish to have? Take a step back and ask yourself: "What would I do to prepare for a great "once in a lifetime" sales call to a new, potential long-term customer?"

HIA brings buyers from all over the world. Remember, the best orders are NOT those written at the show, but those that come in the future, stemming from relationships cultivated at the show.

What is your purpose, and what are you bringing to the show in the way of products, presentation, and people’s enthusiastic attitudes to accomplish this purpose?

How important is your show preparation?

Be honest here again: Does your company "Go Army" when preparing for a trade show? (Go Army – "Be All That You Can Be.") Do your people really try to Go MAD in their efforts? (Go MAD: "Make A Difference.") Or is it simply going through the motions?

The good news is, it's not too late! Right now the only thing that is a given is the size of your booth and its location at the show. Step back and determine how you and your crew can Go MAD at this year's show. I'd encourage you, after careful consideration of your purpose for this year's show, to think towards creating a theme that encompasses ALL that you want to accomplish. The depth of which your theme permeates your show booth is up to you. I feel the deeper the better.

Colors, presentation, clothing worn by those working the booth, etc. The ways in which you create your presence through your theme are myriad!

I want to see a lot of companies striving to Go MAD this year! See you at HIA!

(Note: To read Vinnie's previous columns, click on the titles in the upper right-hand column.)



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Vinny's Recent Columns...
ADVICE ON EXPORTING TO THE UK AND EUROPE; An interview with the former CEO of HobbyCraft.

THE HISTORY OF WALNUT HOLLOW; One of the genuine pioneers of the modern craft industry.

HOW MICHIGAN SCRAPBOOKER WAS LAUNCHED; Substantial growth in 3+ years.

THE HISTORY OF PLAID ENTERPRISES, INC.; It's come a long way in 36 years.

"FLASH" SALES COME TO THE INDUSTRY; Q. & A. about the newest way to introduce new products or dispose of overstocks.

SITTING ON A BULLS EYE; What to do if competitors want your market share, or customers want to cut costs.


FIVE COMMON AFFLICTIONS OF SALES TEAMS; The result: Bad morale and lower sales.

BEYOND MARKET MULTIPLES: INCREASING THE VALUE OF YOUR COMPANY BEFORE THE SALE; How to create a company with greater appeal to buyers.

CHA SHOW NEW PRODUCT REPORT; Hundreds (thousands?) of products, many from new exhibitors.

THE SOLUTION TO MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS; A sure fire way to inspire them to quilt.

ATTRACTING YOUNGER CUSTOMERS; Yes, we aren't our mothers' knitters.

NEW PRODUCTS TO BE UNVEILED AT THE CHAS SHOW; Two parts: new exhibitors and veterans.

WHAT SCRAPPERS ARE SAYING ABOUT MANUFACTURERS AND PUBLISHERS; Scrapbook Updates' readers analyze the problems.

ANALYZING THE CHA ATTITUDE & USAGE STUDY; The rationale and the science behind the number.

REST IN PEACE: JEAN HOWARD BARR; JHB International's Founder and CEO.

POSITIVE NEWS ABOUT THE INDUSTRY; What they want/need from the industry.

COMMENTS FROM INDIE CRAFTERS; What they want/need from the industry.

UNDERSTANDING INDIE CRAFTERS (BY AN INDIE CRAFTER); What they want, what they buy, and how to reach them.

CHA EVENTS FOR MANUFACTURERS; How to get more out of a trade show besides selling your products.

CREATIVE INDUSTRY TURNS TO EDUCATION TO BEAT RECESSION; Simple solutions for vendors and retailers to create online video classes.

WHAT HAPPENED TO CREATIVE MEMORIES? Not adjusting to the times.


HOW A VENDOR SCAMMED A SCAMMER; A sharp eye, a sense of humor - and be wary.

HOW A SMALL VENDOR WAS ALMOST SCAMMED; A savvy, suspicious mind averted a serious financial loss.

COMPANY FOR SALE; The owner is retiring.

EXHIBITORS: YOU'RE WASTING YOUR MONEY! Check your customer list before pre-show mailings.

PLAID CONSERVES TO PRESERVE; Simple changes can mean big savings.

SUGGESTIONS FOR THE CHA SHOW; How to attract more buyers and exhibitors.

CHANGES AT A.C. MOORE; They may not be what they seem.

THE TERRI O SHOW IS COMING; Building industry sales by empowering consumers' creativity.


BOTTLES OF HOPE; A polymer clay grassroots movement.

SEWING SMILES FOR KIDS; Pillowcases and quilts for kids in hospitals.

HELPING THE WORLD IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE; Mrs. Grossman's, C&T Publishing, and Tara Materials.

HELP PEOPLE -- AND THE WORLD; How one company contributes to charities and to Mother Nature.

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS AND HELPING THE WORLD; Plaid employees' long list of charitable activities.

A SAVVY WAY TO INTRODUCE A NEW LINE; Put it in the hands of consumers and teachers.

CHA AND PMA: SHOULD IT BE EITHER/OR? Why not take the best of both worlds?


RESPONSES TO CLN'S CODE OF ETHICS...from chain store execs, vendors, and reps.

PROVO RESPONDS TO CRICUT CRITICS; Unexpected demand caused problems.

ADVICE TO VENDORS; Common sense, please!

HOW TO HAVE A GREAT TRADE SHOW; It takes more than great products.

KEY CHALLENGES/OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE CRAFT INDUSTRY IN 2006; Office supply, private label, and direct import.

IS MIKE DUPEY RIGHT? The industry's retail pioneer's criticism of chain stores elicits strong reactions.

RETAILERS: CREATE A "PLACE," NOT A STORE; Customers return if they feel a sense of community.

"HOW AND WHY WE CHANGED OUR BUSINESS"; Sometimes necessity forces gutsy businesses into new, scary areas.

WHY INDEPENDENTS ARE DECLINING AND THE INDUSTRY IS SOFT; We can't improve the situation until we understand the causes.

HOW TO MAKE THE SCRAPBOOK PIE LARGER; "Keep it simple and non-threatening."

INDEPENDENTS: SUPPORT VENDORS WHO SUPPORT YOU; "Support goes both ways. It is a relationship of trust and consistency."

WHAT MAKES A GREAT SALES REP? Colleagues and customers remember the late Bob Watikins.

TRADE SHOW PRESS POINTERS; Maximize your publicity for a minimal cost.

HOW CAN A SCRAPBOOK START-UP SUCCEED? The answer may be a "Group" away.

DO TRADE SHOWS REFLECT THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY? If we're like other industries, trade shows may be in trouble.


THE STATE OF THE FLORAL MARKET; A blunt interview with Aldik's Larry Gold.

YOU WANT JUNK? YOU GOT IT; Pricing pressures are ruining good categories.

PLANNING THE PERFECT TRADE SHOW; Ten tips for CHA Winter Show exhibitors.

MORE VENDORS RESPOND...; A dialog between vendors and a savvy but unhappy independent.

VENDORS RESPOND TO INDEPENDENT'S PLIGHT; Why vendors have minimums and what retailers can do about it.

RETAIL, E-TAIL, AND "UNFAIR COMPETITION"; Expensive advertising, false promises, and little education.

THE TRIALS OF A SMALL COMPANY, PT. II; Expensive advertising, false promises, and little education.

THE TRIALS OF A SMALL COMPANY; Talent, drive, and product -- but no money.


THE THREE L's: YOU CAN'T SELL WITHOUT THEM; How to look, listen, and learn.

IT WASN'T ALWAYS THIS WAY...; but why does that matter?

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO STRAWBERRY?; Does every new product have to be cheap?