March '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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ERICH'S EMBELLISHMENTS 30 || P R I N T W E A R M A R C H 2 0 1 7 share insights. An added bonus is that the colocation of so many vendors allows for quick matchmaking when you need to bring people from different spheres of the decoration world together to facilitate future work. SAVINGS It's no surprise that many vendors offer show-specific spe- cials and may even sell equipment or other materials they hauled to the show for a reduced rate to keep from taking everything home. The trade show floor is alive with sales. If a show occurs shortly before a time when you intend to upgrade your equipment, consider attending and shopping the deals. The savings don't end with equipment and supplies, either. The educational opportunities at shows are an incredible deal in themselves. Though you won't get the same one-on-one discussion you would with a direct con- sult, you can benefit from the wisdom of the industry's top experts and consultants for a very low price. More- over, many of them do offer more personalized meetings to coincide with the shows. Though they can't see your TRADE SHOW TIPS TO KEEP YOU ON TRACK IT'S STILL WORK. The first step to making the most of any off-site visit is to remember that your primary focus is bringing something back that improves your business. Though there's fun to be had and trade shows are often held in scenic destinations, your main goals must be related to making measurable progress in some aspect of your company's perfor- mance. Though it may sound nice to reward your employees a seemingly tax-exempt vacation, the truth is that trade shows require work and at- tention. Start with an attitude of curiosity, a willingness to listen and ask questions, and an expectation of having what amounts to a fairly packed work schedule, and you'll be on the right track. DEFINE GOALS. Trade shows can be dazzling. The floor is filled with dis- plays from small, decorated stalls to multistory constructions complete with rooms and balconies. Manufacturers may have machines running in the booths, educational demonstrations boom over personal PA systems, and displays are frequently festooned with flashing lights. It's easy to get lost roaming the aisles and staring at the new machinery, decorating options, and technologies while grabbing up tote bags full of samples and literature. It may seem productive, but sometimes it's just busy. The way to avoid the fog of dizzying overstimulation is to have a solid plan in place before you even pick up your badge. This starts with setting goals. What is it that you need to learn? What services, software, or equip- ment is your shop thinking of adding in the next year? What existing ser- vices or equipment need some attention from the supplier that you'd like to arrange in person? Ultimately, what can you learn, do, or coordinate that would justify the investment? SET A SCHEDULE. Do your research and know what key places you need to see before you leave the show floor. If you have time-sensitive events like classes, seminars, or demonstrations to attend, make sure you've blocked them into your schedule and that your crew is aware of who is attending. Depending on who you need to see, you may find that even traditional booth vendors may be able to accommodate appointment times if you contact them before the show. Not every vendor will offer such, but for those that do, it might mean a chance to see a meaningful partner in person rather than dealing with the random free booth staffer available when you attend. Starting with a solid schedule for each day and correlating it with your overall goals gives you the highest likelihood of leaving the show without being haunted by missed opportunities. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! It's easy to forget adequate hydration and sleep at the shows. Spare some thought for comfortable footwear, oc- casional breaks, healthful food options, and a bit of hand-washing. You'll be meeting people from every corner of the decorating world, and you don't want to increase your costs with sick days when you get back to your home base. Running yourself ragged might seem like the best option with limited time available and so many opportunities, but you are more likely to remember what you've learned and follow up on your leads if you are healthy and well rested when you return.

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