Prepping for the Show : Marketing

Once we had our greeting cards and wrapping paper in the production phase, we started focusing on marketing. The first step we took was compiling a list of stores we wanted to target with our marketing campaign. The organizers of the Stationery Show offer a list of last year’s show attendees that you can buy according to category (gift shop, stationery store, online retailer, etc.), however you don’t get a physical copy of the list. This makes sense for the show organizers, since they obviously want you to keep buying their list each year, but it didn’t make much sense for us. We wouldn’t know who our mailing was sent to, so we wouldn’t know whether or not they visited our booth, and therefore wouldn’t know how successful our campaign was in generating visits and orders.

So we, like many of the other first-time exhibitors we spoke with, compiled our own list. It seems that we all went about this in a similar way, by first listing the stores we knew and liked in our own area, then asking family and friends to recommend stores in their respective areas, and then researching what stores our competitors were in. This approach definitely takes a lot more time and effort than just buying the NSS list, but in the end you have a much more refined list of contacts.

The next step was deciding what exactly to send to this list of stores, and the quantity. We decided even though it would be a little more expensive, we needed to send a physical sample of our product to potential stores. So we chose two card designs, 150 of each, to send out. We fed all the cards through my desktop printer, and printed a little blurb about our company, our product offering, the show discount we were offering (more about that in the next post!), and of course our booth number.

The thing to keep in mind with a direct mailing is that the response rate can be anywhere from .5 to 2%, and anything above 1% is considered a successful campaign! So from the 300 cards we sent out, a response of 3-6 stores would be considered a success.

We got one order right after sending out the mailing, and one buyer made an appointment to meet with us at the show. Other than that, we didn’t get much feedback before the show, and were feeling pretty disappointed. However, after the show, we realized that 85% of the orders we received were from people who received a card, and 25% of the people who visited our booth were people who received a card. Not as bad as we thought!

We were afraid we had spent too much money on the mailing, but it definitely paid for itself through the orders and visits we received. I think the more targeted your list of contacts, and the higher the quality of your mailing, the better your response rate will be.

Prepping for the Show : NSS Show Preparation

Sarah Marie officially started in October of 2007 (just eight short months ago!), and we were determined to exhibit at the National Stationery Show in May. We submitted the application for the show in November and received our booth number in December, which gave us five months to prepare. Our calendar looked something like this:

Market Research/Planning the Business: October to December

  • decided on what type of products we wanted to offer
  • decided what our initial investment would be
  • figured out wholesale and retail pricing
  • applied to the National Stationery Show

Design and Sourcing Phase (Booth and Products): October to March

  • designed both the booth and our entire line of products
  • sent our jobs out for quote, and picked our printers and suppliers

Production Phase: March-May

  • the booth, our line of products, and all of our marketing and promotional materials were produced in these three months

Marketing Campaign & Promotional Materials, Design & Production: March-May

  • designed and produced the following materials:
    • business cards
    • marketing mailing
    • wholesale catalog
    • press kits
  • compiled a list of stores to target
  • designed the website and got it up
  • sent out our marketing mailing

I don’t necessarily recommend starting your business seven months before NSS, but it worked for me because it gave me a tangible deadline, and as you can see above it required that I have several key components of the business figured out, and that I have all necessary business materials designed and on hand.

The next four posts will focus on what we did for our marketing campaign, different options for designing a booth, our experience during the show, and our experience after the show.

Prepping for the Show : Preview

Sarah Marie

As many of you know, the National Stationery Show took place back in mid-May. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend, but it got me thinking about what goes into preparing for exhibition at a large show like the NSS.

Sarah Champlin of Sarah Marie Designs exhibited at the National Stationery Show for the first time this year, and she’ll be Paper Crave’s guest blogger throughout next week as she takes us through the process of preparing for the event. I’m so excited about this and am so thankful that Sarah will be sharing her experience with us. Be on the lookout for the first post in the series on Monday!

Urban Rhapsody Collection by K & Company

K & Company Urban Rhapsody Scrapbooking Paper

Ooh, you know how I love grungy, distressed scrapbooking paper designs, so naturally I was drawn to these awesome designs from K & Company’s Urban Rhapsody collection. The muted rainbow palette, the baroque-ish ornaments, the stylized birds, butterflies, flowers, and creeping tendrils…drool.

Featured papers (clockwise, from top left): Brocade Shimmer, Sugar Rush, Points of Interest, Candy Stripe, Golden State of Mind, and Garden Collage. Pick them up at various scrapbooking shops.

images from K & Company

Hidenseek Stationery, Stickers, and Gift Tags

Hidenseek Stickers

There’s something about Hidenseek’s illustrations that make me feel absolutely wistful. The muted color palettes and longing looks in the children’s eyes speak to me in a way that makes my soul sigh just a little. Plus, I just love the friendly bear!

Hidenseek offers prints, stickers (the perfect accessory for any paper good), gift tags, stationery, and more. Some of my favorite paper goodies from them:

Hidenseek Stickers

Hidenseek Stationery

Hidenseek Gift Tags

images from Hidenseek