Saturday, May 23, 2009

National Stationery Show Saga Part 4

What's left to say? This'll be the last in my long-but-rushed 4 part series about the NSS.  ( I'm sure we'll have more little stories to add later.)

At opening on Sunday morning at 9 am, along with the last exhale of stress, anxiety and pressure went the last bit of energy that we had.  

We were starting to visibly slump by 9:10 and despite my warnings regarding how unprofessional coffee breath can be, Carol went off in search of coffee.  She missed our first most excellent visit of the morning/day/show as the ladies of Sealed With A Kiss dropped by.  Seeing the dumbfounded look on my face as they asked if they could place an order, they kindly suggested that they could drop back in later.

Stationery people are so nice.

I spent the rest of the day trying to find patterns in how/what/why people made visits.  Pseudo-psychoanalysis is my specialty, with a side of sociological cause determination.  And a minor in filling-in-gaps with inference and bullcrap.

So, from my extensive random sample of one, these are the conclusions I came to:

Sunday seems to have more independent stores and owners.  They are there bright and early and someone mentioned that they go straight to those booths they know or know they want to see, before doing any wandering.   Most of the morning was spent with people who knew we were at the show.

Random passers-by judge you in less than three seconds.  The sea of booths in the Javits seemed ultra-overwhelming to me and I can't even imagine giving every booth a fair shake.  You have to have something there to let them know what you're about *immediately*.  We didn't.  To most we must have been just another "pretty card" booth.  The next day we printed up some signs that simply said "the HateMail collection" and I was astounded at the difference this made.

Monday seems to be more of the business-type buyers.  And they show up late.  Things were quiet until about 11, but came in big rushes after that.  I think a little of that "go where you know first" mentality still applies.

There were some things we thought we had to bring.  Business cards, swag (in our case, some of our "And To Think..."  as postcards), order/line sheets, buyer info sheets, press kits and catalogues.  We almost got them all.  Except the last one.   And frankly, for a *paper* industry, I was pretty shocked at how forgiving and open everyone was to getting a PDF catalogue.

Carol thought a bowl of chocolate would be a good idea, but honestly, it only seemed to attract crabby people who wandered in from the ICFF show downstairs.  And they would grab *handfuls*.  Maybe they were Type 2 and going through lows.  That would explain both the crabbiness and the need for chocolate.  See?  Master of sociological cause determination.

Neither Carol or I are really excellent at high pressure sales.  While other people were standing at the entrances of their booths, we sat at the back.  When people came close to the booth, we found that saying "good morning" actually took their attention away from the cards, as their eyes turned to you to reply.  Three seconds is all we got, and we weren't going to waste it saying "good morning".  If we passed the three second test, then we moved into the 2 minute stop, at which point we would say "good morning", hand out the business card and post card and ask if they'd like to be added to our list to receive a PDF catalogue (which actually ended up being a good way to get their business cards).  Anything after that was gravy.  We made up a "show special" which made for an easy segue of suggesting an order without sounding pushy.

And thus went Sunday and Monday.  I left Monday after the show to catch my flight back home.  Two boys and a day job awaited.  


Gwendolyn "what a fabulous, intelligent-sounding name you have" Lee said...

It was nice to meet you guys! All our chocolate seemed to do was add a few inches to the hips (rather than, you know, be an icebreaker or fab customer experience).

It was reasonably easy to isolate traffic with...erm...less-than-admirable intentions. Make a little eye contact or give a friendly greeting and they scampered away like raccoons from a flashlight. ;)

Lee said...

It almost felt like weird scene from a desperate meatmarket where a yellow tagged visitor was the equivalent of no wedding ring. Those gray tags? No wedding ring AND a Porsche.

scarves said...

I joined a lot of shows including clothing, scarf, but never stationery show. I hope I have chance for that. It must be interesting

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