We definitely took a few days off after the show to just relax and not think about anything stationery related.
Once we started back up, the first thing we did was to transfer all of the business cards we had collected throughout the show into our Outlook contacts. We just did this the old school way, manually typing all of the information. They did have badge scanners available at the show, but they were too expensive for us this time around. We also looked into business card scanners, but this was also a little too expensive. We collected about a hundred business cards, so for us it wasn’t too time consuming to just type them in. Plus, this also allowed me to go through each and every person who had visited our booth, and put them into different groups like “requires immediate follow up”, “sample request”, etc.
The next thing we did was focus on getting our orders out. It’s funny that the whole point of going to the show is to get orders, but there are so many other things going on that you almost forget about that aspect of it. You forget that you now actually have to pack and ship the orders you did receive. We thought we had a good system set up for packing and shipping, but you really don’t know how well something is going to work until you’re in the middle of it. Let’s just say don’t order too many of one size box only to realize it’s the wrong size. I think we’re now one of Uline’s top customers for the number and variety of cardboard boxes we ordered from them the week after the show.
I think it’s important to have clear shipping guidelines in the terms/policies section of your order form. We promised a ship date of 2-3 weeks from the order date, which was more than enough time for us to get our orders out. I think it’s always better to under-promise and over-deliver, than to over-promise and under-deliver.
We heard from some veteran exhibitors and from the show organizers that a lot of orders are placed within the two weeks after the show. We did get a few orders the first week after the show, but it’s slowed down since then.
Once all of our orders were shipped, the next item on our to-do list was sending samples to members of the press and stores that had visited our booth and had requested specific items.
We’re now in the follow-up phase, and over the next few months we plan on making appointments with local stores and contacting the stores that visited our booth, but that didn’t place an opening order at the show. We’re also working on getting the e-commerce part of our website up, www.sarahmarie.com, and we hope to have that done by the end of July/beginning of August. For now, all of our products can be purchased through our Etsy store, www.sarahmariedesigns.etsy.com.
Overall, exhibiting at the show was a great experience. It has always been one of my dreams to design a line of stationery and gift wrap, and to exhibit at the National Stationery Show, and this year I finally accomplished that. Although we didn’t get the hundreds of orders we were hoping for, the show was worth it just for the contacts that we made. We were able to introduce our company and products to thousands of potential retailers and various magazines all in a matter of days. We’re now in stores throughout the country, in areas we wouldn’t have been able to visit otherwise. We’re looking forward to exhibiting next year, and hope our orders continue to grow!