22 04, 2016


By |April 22nd, 2016|0 Comments|


MOQ – Also known as Minimum Order Quantities, or the number of items per sku / style that a retailer must purchase when placing a wholesale order.  Imperative to include with your wholesale terms & conditions.

When you’re determining your wholesale terms & conditions, you want to set a minimum order quantity for each product category you sell.  Minimum order quantities, or MOQ, tells buyers how many of each SKU they need to purchase when placing an order.  And, this will vary from product category to product category.

Some things you want to consider when determining your MOQ:

  1. Adhere to industry standards. In the stationery world, greeting cards are sold in MOQs of 6 or 12.  Gift wrap is typically 12 or 24 sheets minimum.
  2. Consider merchandising needs of your retailers. Your products will look better on the shelves when there is a good selection.  One isolated candle, bag or notebook on a shelf may look like an outlier, so setting MOQs helps retailers display your products in the best possible way.
  3. Think practically.  Sometimes setting your MOQ boils down to something as simple as what is the most efficient way to ship your product to retail stores.  For example, if you can fit 4 mugs snuggly in your shipping box so that they securely get to your retailer, an MOQ of 4 would make more sense than an MOQ of 5.  Don’t make things more difficult than you need to!

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19 10, 2015


By |October 19th, 2015|0 Comments|


SWOT analysis = A study that a company conducts to identify internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats.  Particularly helpful to undertake before making your business plan.

Let’s face it, as much as we don’t want to compare ourselves to our competitors, it’s still important to know what is going on in the industry.  You need to know how to position your company in order to gain more visibility and to grow.  How do you do that?  Start by undertaking a SWOT analysis.  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  By looking at these internal and external factors, you can figure out how to best leverage your business, and you can make actionable plans to get you there.

For example: Maybe you’re great at social media but you’re slacking on your email marketing.  One possible solution?  Repurpose your social media content for email campaigns for your retailers.  Tailor your emails so that you’re adding value and providing information that helps your retailers buy.  You could use social media and email in tandem to release sneak peeks of new products, talk about promotions or share upcoming show announcements.  If bookkeeping is your weakness, maybe you can hire someone to help track your finances.  When you make an honest assessment of your company, you can use the results to improve.

Tip: a SWOT analysis can be conducted on different aspects of your business, as well as the big picture.  You can do a more focused analysis on just your marketing efforts, your website, and more.  Click here to download a free TSBC SWOT analysis worksheet.

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5 10, 2015


By |October 5th, 2015|0 Comments|


Wholesale = the sale of goods to retailers and other professional business users.  In contrast to retail, where you sell direct to the customer.

At TSBC a large focus of our conversations are about selling wholesale.  We talk about preparing your products for the wholesale market, but what exactly does that mean?  Wholesale is when you sell your products to retailers or business owners, who then resell it to the general public.   If you design greeting cards, for example, this would mean you sell your cards to retail shops and they can then sell it in their stores or online shops.   This is different than you selling directly to a customer through your own website.

Selling wholesale and selling retail require very different go-to market strategies, sales tools and marketing techniques.  And, if you sell wholesale and also sell your products through an online shop (your online or etsy shop), you have to be very careful about how your wholesale and retail strategies overlap.  For example, your pricing in your retail shop needs to be at least twice your wholesale pricing to avoid under cutting the retailers that you wholesale too.

You don’t need to sell wholesale to have a successful business in the stationery industry.  However, having multiple revenue streams can increase the stability of your business.  Other benefits to wholesaling include increased visibility for your products, access to customers who may not have otherwise known about you and potentially higher volume of sales.

What questions do you have about wholesaling?  Leave us a comment!

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11 09, 2015


By |September 11th, 2015|0 Comments|


Customer Service: The service you give to a customer before, during, and after a purchase.  The better customer service you give, the more likely it is that customers will want to keep doing business with you!

The way you handle customer service can completely change a customer’s perception of your business, and your policies should be part of your business plan. Understanding the expectations of your customers is a huge part of making sure they are satisfied.

A few questions you can ask yourself:

  • What is your response time to inquiries?
  • Are you proactive if you anticipate any shipping delays?
  • Do you communicate clearly and regularly with buyers?

At the end of the day, the way you make your customers feel can leave a lasting impression and enhance your business relationship.  When it’s a pleasure to do business with you, your business can only benefit.

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13 05, 2015


By |May 13th, 2015|0 Comments|


Merchandising = V: Promoting the sales of your product, especially through displays.

Merch it up to give buyers a preview of how your products will look in their stores.

Booths at the National Stationery Show and other trade shows often look like mini retail stores, and with good reason.  Merchandising, or promoting your product through displays, helps buyers get a good feel for how products will look in their brick and mortar stores.  When planning your booth, make sure there are plenty of attractive display options, as well as a way for buyers to touch and feel your cards.  If you have special packaging that sets you apart, make sure to bring that, too!



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13 04, 2015


By |April 13th, 2015|0 Comments|

Lingo Elevator Pitch

Quick!  You’re in the elevator with the main buyer of a large retail store and she asks you what you do.  What should you tell her?  You should use your elevator pitch, of course!

An elevator pitch quickly describes your business and your offerings, as well as what sets you apart.  For example, we love this pitch from Julie Ann Art: “Julie Ann Art specializes in hand-lettered greeting cards you definitely won’t find at Hallmark!”  An elevator pitch can be between thirty seconds to two minutes, but it’s often handy to have a few different versions.  You can expand upon your initial pitch if you have more time.

Crafting your elevator pitch is an important exercise and as a bonus it can help you gain more clarity on your business.  Things to consider: What are you known for?  Do you use special materials?  Have a unique design aesthetic?  Once you’ve got it down, practice saying it out loud to friends and family.  Practice makes perfect!

Tip: When you see stationery peers at an event, it’s always fine to strike up a conversation but use your good judgement.  Pouncing on someone while they’re waiting to use the restroom may not be the time and place.

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31 03, 2015


By |March 31st, 2015|0 Comments|


Terms and Conditions

AKA “T&C’s”

Your written requirements for doing business with wholesalers, typically listed on your order form, in your catalog and/or on your website.

Simply put, Terms and Conditions are a great way to protect yourself and ensure everyone has clear expectations when it comes to purchasing your products.  Common terms include minimum dollar requirements and minimum quantity requirements, such as 6 greeting cards or 3-4 boxed sets per style.  Keep in mind your T&Cs should also include information about your standard turn-around times, shipping methods and payment methods you accept.  It’s your business, so decide what works best for you. And, remember that even though we recommend having strict, detailed written T&Cs to protect yourself, we also encourage being flexible with your buyers.

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17 03, 2015


By |March 17th, 2015|0 Comments|


Just like asking for your mother-in-law’s secret recipe, asking a colleague for proprietary information can be a little touchy.  

Tip: When in doubt, start with, “I’m not sure if this is proprietary, but I’m hoping you can help…”

Keep in mind who you’re asking for help.  A trusted friend whom you’ve known a long time and regularly swap business stories, tips and resources with is more likely going to tell you which printer they use or what fonts are in their designs.  Someone you approach on social media who you don’t have a relationship?  Not likely that they will respond.

It can often take a long time for a person to find and develop sources they are comfortable using, so be respectful of your industry peers and know that people will share as much or as little as they are comfortable with.

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6 03, 2015


By |March 6th, 2015|0 Comments|


Your sample deck, or sometimes referred to simply as a ‘deck’, is a collection of your work that includes one sample of every card or product in your line.  Decks can be assembled in a number of ways — loose in a box, o-rings or in a portfolio.  When in doubt on how to format your deck, ask your rep what they prefer.  And, always remember to label each card in your deck clearly with the sku / item number.

A sample deck is a sales tool that allows you and your sales reps to quickly showcase your work. When it’s easier to see what you offer, it’s easier for buyers to place orders. And as you know, orders make your business go round!

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16 02, 2015


By |February 16th, 2015|0 Comments|


Foam board is a popular wall choice for trade shows due to its flexibility, price point and ease of use.  Some of our alums choose to install foam board themselves, however I always hire our friends at Manny Stone Decorators to install it for me so that when I arrive at the show my walls are up and ready for me to add product.  Huge time saver!

Foam board panels are 4ft wide x 8ft tall and they MUST be flame resistant.  Manny Stone Decorators offers white, solid color options and they can also pre-print graphics directly on the boards for you (check out TSBC alum, Ten Four Paper’s NSS 2014 booth below as an example of the pre-printed option!)

Don’t confuse foam board with foamcore, which is a brand name item by Monsanto that is NOT flame resistant. Make sure you’re up to code!



photo credit: Megan Lawler for Tradeshow Bootcamp


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