I am quite sure that I am not the only little company going through this and my thoughts or experience might help others, or, others might want to help me!
Here it goes.
You might have noticed while looking at the photos of my booth from the last show to this show, that not much has changed...if you didn't notice, leave this post NOW...here, click here! (go shop or something!)
For those of you who did notice, you are absolutely right, congratulations!
Now, for starters, after many different attempts over the years of displaying my line (and yes, the line has evolved...I'll get to that in another post)...I have concluded that it looks best, (so far), on white!
I have used white for several years now, and although after a week in the booth I am usually jonesing for a new wall color, so far, it has served my look well.
This time however, it was not the white walls or the basic white furnishings it was the product line that hadn't changed, you might have also noticed that I didn't have any BIG news regarding NEW products...yes, it's true. I woke up in a cold sweat several nights prior to the show thinking - how can I do this? how can I spend all this money to go to the show and not have new product to introduce!????.
Truth is, I simply could not afford to produce new products!
When you produce domestically or yourself, you have this wonderful freedom to make something new, show it at a trade show and then see what happens. From there, depending on the volume of your sales, you can adapt, you can hire a few people to help you produce, you can farm out the work to a larger company that can produce what you are making or you can even go overseas and have it made there if you need to.
When you are producing your line overseas there is this magic word that pops up frequently, MINIMUMS!
You usually can't just order 150 pcs of something, you usually have to produce in the 1000's. From there, you need to get it to North America (or where ever you are based) and distribute. Let's say you have a new product and you would like to make it in 6 colors/patterns...that could mean 6000 pieces right there! (minimum)
Now, for the large companies, it's no big deal. But then again, I take that back, in the last 2 years, I would venture to say that even for the larger companies, it has been a big deal.
You produce overseas, because the cost per piece is MUCH less expensive than making it domestically (obviously it depends on what you are producing!), the flip side is that you need to buy high volume.
When trade shows are busy and buyers have lots of money to buy, this is great. When trade shows are quiet and buyers are very very careful and the economy is, well, like it has been...this can mean trouble.
Here is the scenario; You design lots of great new products, get samples from your factory overseas, show them at a trade show and place an order for goods to be transported to North America ready to ship to your retailers within 4-6 weeks or so. But, the trade shows are quiet, sales are what the trade calls soft (that means mucho dissappointing!) , and you are getting a boatload (literally) of fabulous new chatchkas to sell! Uh Oh...now what?
Some would say, why place your order with Asia before you do your shows and see what you can sell first?
I say, everytime I have done this, I have lost lots of sales because I couldn't quote shipping for less than 12 weeks from the show...too long for many clients to wait. Or, if there are any snags in the schedule and the clients were willing to wait 12 weeks, once it gets bumped up to 15 or 17 weeks, forget it!
You see, the point is, you want to sell the stuff as fast as you are getting it in. Once you have it warehoused and sitting around for months and you have to do another 6 shows to move it, it becomes, well, painful.
That's where I am...the painful place. For a designer like myself, who has boatloads of product ideas that are sellable and makeable with 10 years of designing products that sell under my belt (cough, so to speak), but who can't keep spending money while not moving enough inventory, it's just plain painful! Now don't get me wrong, I am selling and to most retailers, my line is still relatively new and untapped, but to me...OY VEY, I am so ready to move on...
So that is why you didn't see the fabulous new product launches and the exciting new press releases...I just had to suck it up this time, design a new booth sign, put together a new little press kit, keep my head up and try to sell sell sell!
I had an amazing professor at University who once told me that to have security in life one had to know how to surf...Surf? I asked...Yes surf! He said . Life is like a series of waves and you go through it on a surfboard...some waves might knock you down, some you might surf like a pro, some will be pretty, some really really messy, but if you keep surfing you will always have security...I try to surf daily and I thought of Dr. Backus often this past week at the show and I surfed! I welcomed the waves I hadn't ridden before and I took the ride...I think in many ways this economy has humbled us, as sellers, as buyers, as people...Surfing always helps me...ever tried it?