June '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 5 J U N E P R I N T W E A R || 99 A s a trade show veteran, I can't tell you the exact number of events I've attended, but I know it's more than 200. The first trade show I ever attended was an apparel decoration show in 1992. I remember the excitement of seeing what new products were available and the opportunity to gain industry knowledge first-hand. Besides these two benefits, trade shows also expose attendees to new trends, such as decorating techniques, design strategies, and hot apparel styles. To get the most from attending any trade show, it's best to have a clear strategy in mind. Know- ing what you need to accomplish before, during, and after the show is the first step toward success. BEFORE THE SHOW Make a list of what you want to accomplish and understand in clear terms why you're attending. Are you buying or shopping? Are you researching new styles? Are you looking for new solutions? Are you prepar- ing to invest in new machines or software and want to compare op- tions? Work backward from what you perceive as your top-three big- gest challenges. Write down what's bugging you about your business. This is not intended to be scary or keep you up all night, but rather to help prioritize your goals for taking the time to attend a trade show. With your plan in place, it's time to situ- ate and familiarize yourself with the show city and surrounding area. You don't want to get lost in a new town, so figure out where you're staying and the distance be- tween the convention center and your ho- tel. Walking a full-size trade show for two or three days is often exhausting. It's worth the money to stay at the hotel closest to the convention center. Also, book your room well in advance to enjoy discounted rates. If you preregistered for the trade show (and you should), you probably noticed an increase in email marketing from the show and its many exhibitors. Review any offers or specials that were sent your way. Look for ideas, offers, and specials that connect with your goals. Now that you have a plan and have reg- istered for the show, here are some consid- erations. • Expect long hours. Ten to 12 hours of scheduled activities is common. • Find out where the registration area is and what time it opens. That's where you pick up your badge. Yes, you get to wear a promotional lanyard with a plas- For more than 20 years, Jay Busselle has worked in the design, production, and sale of advertising, decorated apparel, and promotional products. He possesses industry-specific ex- perience, business ownership, and a graphic design background. Busselle is in business development for Idea Custom Solutions.

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