Let’s be honest from the start here – when I signed up to be part of Top Drawer as a part of the Design Factory team I had absolutely no idea what I was letting myself in for. I had not really thought about what a trade show is and I hadn’t really considered whether it was appropriate for my work or not. As I catch my breath after my first ever trade show I find myself reflecting on what I got right and what I might have done differently if I had had the presence of mind. So this week I thought I would share with you my post show feelings:
- If you possibly can, especially for your first time, go as part of a group.
You might get a little less space than if you went on your own but what you get instead is someone reminding you of all the things you have to do, organising the stand, supporting you before and during the event and producing a more corporate feel to the area – I think our area looked great because it was so coherent in appearance.
- Do not trust the public transport system.
I found travelling to an unfamiliar venue first thing in the morning discombobulating. On the first day my journey took double the time that it was expected to and I arrived late and flustered. The second day was better but still not perfect.
- May friends with your neighbours.
Everybody needs good neighbours! To look out for you when you need a bite to eat or drink, to boost your energy levels and with whom to have a bit of a laugh and to hold the fort for you when the public transport system lets you down. Thanks guys!
- Say no to nothing but promise nothing either
I now have a pile of interested parties to contact. Potentially I have some very exciting opportunities to look forward to. If I had promised something to the first person who showed an interest, I would have felt rather pressed to agree to some of the later ones. By agreeing to things in principle and suggesting that I follow up later, both the potential customer and I have time to consider all the opportunities that the show presented and neither side is stuck with something that might not be the best for them. I am hugely looking forward to making contact with the people who expressed an interest over the next few days and having more detailed discussions with those who, in the cold light of day, really do want to do business with me.
- Take a goodie bag with you
I seem to have eaten rubbish for 3 days. Next time I do a trade show I will make sure that I have plenty of healthy snacks in the fridge so that I can stock up each day and not fill up on chocolate and muffins!
- Do not party until the middle of the night before!
On the day before Top Drawer I set up my stand in very good time in order to drive 150 miles, party half the night, eat and drink far too much and then drive back on the Sunday morning to man my post. It was not a good look! Party all night!
- Be prepared
Due to the fact that my wonderful daughter was left in charge until I could get back from Somerset on Sunday I thought it would be a good idea to give her a structure for her conversations with possible customers. Throughout the weekend ‘the little green book’ was to prove invaluable. I could never have remembered the detail of all those conversations if I had not had a structured approach to the notes that I made immediately afterward each one.
- Don’t plan too much for the few days afterwards.
By the end of day 3 I couldn’t feel my feet, my brain was in a complete fug and the only place that I wanted to be was my bed – for a very long time! So it was a bit of an error to have to go into the studio on the following day to work on 4 urgent commissions. I need to think that through more carefully next time.
- Get help
The unloading, set up, break down and removing of the stands is a nightmare. If it had not been for my strong, helpful, patient and tolerant husband I would not have coped. Simple!
All the time, at everyone!