August 28, 2010

NYIGF, take two

We went to the New York Gift Fair again this month. It was my second time at the show, and my only sales goal was to break even, since I pretty much broke even at the winter show. The stakes were raised, though, as I had a shared booth last time for half the price and this time I had it all to myself with all of the cost. And it's expensive. Did I sell more than the winter show? Yes. Did I break even? Uh, no.
* Sigh *

I can cite a million reasons that would explain why I didn't do so hot, mostly to do with the economy and the high cost of doing business in New York. I analyzed my display all 5 days of the show to see how it could be improved (and decided even though my display looks good, I'm ready for a total overhaul). I agonized over the lighting and decided it is not highlighting my jewelry to its best abilities. So many ways to change what I'm doing... So many possibilities to try and sell more jewelry...

Even if I had a killer display with the best location in the show, I'm still not sure I would do anything but marginally better. It's one of those things where you just have to build it up one step at a time and I think my business has grown really well through a lot of word of mouth and sales performance. Some examples: Customers ask their favorite shop if they carry my jewelry, and then the shop looks me up. My (very nice) retailers tell other retailers how well my jewelry sells, and based on these recommendations, I earn a new account. This past Atlanta market was a great example of building my business over time - it was my fourth time there and my best show ever by far due to loads of amazing reorders! Kick ass!

So when I put so much time, effort, hard work, and cash into a trade show, it's so frustrating when it doesn't seem to pay off. Sometimes you want to just tell people "Just buy it. It sells. I promise." But of course I can't say that without sounding like a jerk. I did open new accounts and that's fantastic, but with the money I spent vs. the money I made, I'm right back at square one.

our NYIGF display - time for a change

However, you can look back on the months passed since a trade show and say "This account that I opened at the show turned out to be a great account and that made the show worth doing for sure!" but you never know if that will happen, and you can only hope. When you're sitting in your booth breaking out in a cold sweat adding up your expenses vs. your sales, it's a hard pill to swallow. So far, my sales resulting from trade shows in the long run are always higher than my show expenses, but as an actual return on investment, it's not very impressive.

So will I do NYIGF again? I'm not sure. I wish I could skip the winter show (too cold!) and do the next summer show but I'd probably lose my spot. But is it worth saving? I can't decide, and that contract is due soon...

August 21, 2010

Listing shows on your website

I received a book called 500 Tips for Marketing Your Crafts for Christmas last year and every now and then I pick it up and flip through its pages. It's a bit pricey for a paperback, especially one that isn't even that thick, but it is full of information ranging from taking photographs of your work to prepping your car for craft shows. Most of it I already knew, but some tips are new to me, like this one:

Don't list your craft shows on your website

Really? Their reasoning is that your competition will apply to all of your shows, get into some of them, and take your space or half of your money.

I guess I forget how cutthroat this business can be. I have always listed my previous shows on my website, going back to 2006...until today. I took them all off except for my next three upcoming shows. I see no need to not list the shows I am already in since the application deadline has passed and I can take them down once the show is over. This is going against their advice, however.

I don't know. Is that good or bad advice? What do you think?