22 01, 2016

DEAR CAMP COUNSELORS | CATALOGS

By |January 22nd, 2016|0 Comments|

DearCC_Catalogs

Dear Camp Counselors,

I know I need to make a wholesale catalog to showcase my work, but I’m getting overwhelmed.  How often do I need to make one?  What’s the most important thing to consider?  Help! — Stella

Dear Stella,

Don’t stress – catalogs can be a big undertaking, as they are time intensive and costly to produce.  But after your first one is complete, you don’t need to keep reinventing the wheel.  As a rule of thumb, catalogs should be printed every 12-18 months and an online version should be updated every few months as you add new product.  Be sure to send your updated online catalogs to your buyers & reps as they are available!  If you plan to exhibit at an industry trade show, it would be wise to have a current catalog available.

As far as the content, thorough product descriptions and product photography are key.  Photos are preferred over digital images, and people respond well to styled photos.  It’s worth splurging on a professional photographer, if you can.  Keep your product details clear: item numbers, product specs, production methods, paper type, wholesale pricing, etc.  And make sure it’s easy for a reader to find your contact information.

For more information about catalogs, tune into my CreativeLive class on February 11th focused on Creating Effective Catalogs. You can watch the recording of this broadcast right here.

Good luck and happy selling,

Katie Hunt, Tradeshow Bootcamp

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9 12, 2015

DEAR CAMP COUNSELOR | MEDIA BEST PRACTICES

By |December 9th, 2015|0 Comments|

Dear Camp Counselor,

As part of my company’s growth plan, I really want to get featured in magazines and blogs.  What do I need to know about working with the media?

-Sam

Stationery Trends Magazine Fall 2015

Dear Sam,

Media coverage is a great way to publicize your business.  Start by doing some research and selecting an outlet or two that best fits what it is you want. Focus on a publication or blog that fits with the vibe of your work.

Then, keep a few things in mind:

Tailor it. First, check out the masthead or “about” page.  Customize your message to the publication. Make sure you address it specifically to the right editor, and spell the word stationery, their name, as well as the name of their publication right. Do note in your original pitch if/when you will be following up — and this often turns out to be a smart move. If you do so in about week, this may again put your work front and center on the editor’s plate — who will then hopefully review and respond to your original message.

Know the guidelines. Query the editor or blogger on submission guidelines — everything from what they are working on in the next several issues when to what type of resolution of images they need. Publications typically have a media kit or editorial calendar.

Follow up. When you do receive press, reach out to the editor and personally thank them. This is a simple yet telling effort. An email here is good, but an actual mailed thank-you is far better. That action speaks to an authentic gratitude and, almost more importantly, supports the traditions of an industry in which we all work.

In this communication, take off your business hat and convey that you appreciate their coverage — for that reason, no need to enclose a business card, plug your line or make additional requests. He or she will remember you moving forward!

Finally, never only thank them in a social media post where you’re mainly promoting your brand. This can come off as both superficial and mercenary. In a way, it undermines the potential of an enduring relationship with the editor as an individual. That is really your main goal, since once you get press at a given outlet, it’s easier during the production of the next issue, or a few issues down the road, for the staff to circle back and give more coverage to someone they’ve worked with that left such a great impression!

— Sarah Schwartz, Stationery Trends Magazine, Gift Shop Magazine and The Paper Chronicles

 

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4 12, 2015

DEAR CAMP COUNSELORS | CHOOSING BOOTH COMPONENTS

By |December 4th, 2015|0 Comments|

DearCC_BoothDesign

Dear Camp Counselors,

I’m beginning to work on booth designs for next year’s shows and there are a ton of options.  How can I keep focused and pick what’s best for me?

— Valerie

Dear Valerie,

Kudos to you for working ahead and planning your booth in advance.  It’s the best way to narrow down your selections and vendors, and to save money in the process.  The key here is to choose what works for you.  Make sure the elements in your booth represent your branding as well as your budget.

When you’re crunching the numbers, be sure to weigh the time involved as well as the financial cost of each option.   Using DIY methods may cost you less money but also require additional time.  You may find that outsourcing certain tasks can save you an extra day’s time during set up and therefore hotel, transportation and food costs for that extra day; so keep an eye on the big picture.

Consider investing in items that can be reused at multiple shows – floor tiles are a great example of this.  Take into consideration how easy your booth components are to transport.  Will you need to ship in a crate, can you carry it on the plane or drive it in?    If you need help with vendors, check out our TSBC sponsor list for our preferred vendors.

And, lastly, remember to be decisive.  Don’t waste time second guessing yourself or doubting your decisions.  Do your homework, weigh the pros/cons, then make a decision and move on to your next task!

Good luck,

Katie Hunt, Tradeshow Bootcamp

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30 11, 2015

DEAR CAMP COUNSELORS | TOP CATEGORIES FOR CARDS

By |November 30th, 2015|0 Comments|

Dear Camp Counselor card occasions

Dear Camp Counselor card occasions

Dear Camp Counselors,

I’ve been doing my homework and know that I should be aiming to release new products 2 or 3 times per year.  I have limited time to work on my new collection, so I wanted your advice: what are the most popular greeting card occasions?  Where should I focus my attention?

— Emily

Dear Emily,

First and foremost, I want to encourage you to work on the kinds of cards and products that are in line with your brand.  When you’re genuinely excited about the work you put out, it will get you much farther than releasing cards just because they fall into a popular category.  That being said, it’s never a bad idea to work smarter instead of harder!  If you’re having trouble narrowing down a wide range of ideas, know that the top occasions for cards are Birthday, Love, and Holiday.  General sympathy cards are up there too.

Keep in mind that retailers are ordering cards several seasons ahead.  Holiday needs to be ready for retailers to buy in May, for instance. January is a great time to release Birthday, Wedding, and Anniversary cards, along with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Graduation items.  Happy creating!

–Katie Hunt, Tradeshow Bootcamp

 

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12 10, 2015

DEAR CAMP COUNSELORS| INVENTORY

By |October 12th, 2015|0 Comments|

stationery inventory by 417press

Dear Camp Counselors,

How many of each SKU should I have on hand prior to doing a trade show?

– Maggie

Dear Maggie,

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors:

  • How long have you been wholesaling and do you know which products are your best sellers?
  • What types of products are you offering?
  • How are you pricing your products?
  • Are you outsourcing your printing or are you printing products yourself?
  • Do you have the ability to do a short run of samples for the show?
  • How fast can you produce your products after the show?

If you’re selling wholesale, consistent inventory should be your end goal.  You don’t want to be producing each order as it comes in.  It is more expensive and less efficient, both of which cut into your profit margins.

Start small and be conservative, but smart, about your inventory.  As your business grows and you  have a better handle on your production costs, space constraints, and company goals, you’ll likely keep more inventory and start printing larger runs.

Best wishes,

Katie Hunt, TSBC

 

Image by 417 Press

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23 09, 2015

DEAR CAMP COUNSELORS | NSS APPLICATIONS

By |September 23rd, 2015|0 Comments|

Dear Camp Counselors NSS applications

Dear Camp Counselors,

When should I apply to exhibit at the National Stationery Show?

– Catherine

Hi Catherine,

The National Stationery Show happens each May in New York City.  Returning exhibitors received their contracts this summer and had an opportunity to re-sign and/or shift booth spaces before new exhibitors were contacted.  However, new exhibitors are starting to hear back about booth placement now.

As a new exhibitor, there are benefits to applying early, including better booth options and more time to promote that you’ll be at the show. As the show gets closer and more people sign up, options become limited with corner booths with the smallest (60sq ft) booths being the first to go.

You’re not too late to submit for 2016.  But, things are underway so if you know you want to exhibit, be sure to contact the NSS team.

Best wishes,

Katie Hunt, Tradeshow Bootcamp

 

National Stationery Show was a sponsor of this September’s Paper Camp.

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4 09, 2015

DEAR CAMP COUNSELOR | PRODUCT RELEASE SCHEDULES

By |September 4th, 2015|0 Comments|

DearCampCounselors_holiday

Dear Camp Counselors,

I’m fairly new to selling wholesale and I want to make sure I don’t miss the boat on releasing new products.  Is it too late in the year for me to release holiday cards?  If it is too late, what should I be working on?

— Jenn

Dear Jenn,
It’s never too late to release cards for direct sale to your customers, so please don’t hesitate if you have some great seasonal designs you want to get out into the world.  That being said, I typically recommend releasing your winter holiday cards in May/June, as buyers typically work a few seasons ahead when making purchases.  September and October, however, are ideal times to release your Valentine’s Day or new love designs.  You can also plan to release calendars in January, although keep in mind you should be working one year out.  That means in January 2016 you’ll be releasing your 2017 calendar.
Best wishes,

Carina Murray, Crow and Canary

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12 06, 2015

DEAR CAMP COUNSELOR | ATTENDING A CONFERENCE

By |June 12th, 2015|0 Comments|

DearCC_Conferences

Dear Camp Counselor,

I’m attending my first industry conference and I’m equal parts nervous and excited.  How do I know what sessions to attend?  How do I maximize my time?  How do I make new contacts?  Help!

–Heather

Dear Heather,

Congrats on making the investment in yourself and your business.  Conferences are packed with opportunities to learn information that’s targeted towards you and your business, and there are also plenty of chances to meet new people.  That being said, there is also a lot to cover.  Many conferences are structured in a way that provides keynote speeches and panels for the whole group of attendees, with a chance to separate into smaller workshops or breakout sessions throughout the day.  Usually a variety of workshops are offered at the same time, and it’s often hard to pick which one you want to attend.  My first suggestion is this: go with your gut and pick the workshop that seems most exciting to you.  Depending on where you are at in your business you may want to attend a session addressing a question you currently have, or you can look toward the future of your business and pick something that gets you excited about next steps.

From there, divide and conquer.  If you’re going with a friend, coordinate who is going to what workshop and then swap notes afterwards.  It’s not as good as firsthand experience, but you’ll be able to glean the important information.  Don’t know anyone at the conference?  No problem.  When you first sit down, introduce yourself to the people sitting on either side of you.  See what sessions they’re attending and offer to exchange notes as well.  You get to meet new people and also walk away with some new knowledge.

As far as meeting people, simply introduce yourself.  A handshake and a smile go a long way in making a connection.  Have your own business cards handy and when you receive a card from someone else, it’s a good idea to jot down information on the back about how you met them, what you discussed, etc.  You can also keep track of your contacts using TSBC Alum + speaker, Kristen Ley’s card organizer.  On a general note, I also recommend visiting the conference website to brush up on the the schedule as well as information about speakers and presenters at the conference. If there’s someone you’d love to talk to, having looked at their photo and bio helps you put a face to the name.

A few last suggestions:

  • Make sure you have a way to take notes.  A notebook is usually easier to access and more discreet than a laptop.
  • Go into the conference with an idea of what you’d like to take away, then keep yourself open for new discoveries and opportunities.
  • Have your elevator pitch handy if anyone asks.
  • Have fun!

Good luck!

–Katie Hunt, Tradeshow Bootcamp

P.S. Be sure to check out Business Camp for strategies and solutions for creative entrepreneurs!

 

 

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8 05, 2015

DEAR CAMP COUNSELORS | WALKING THE SHOW AT NSS

By |May 8th, 2015|0 Comments|

DearCC_walking_the_National_Stationery_Show

Dear Camp Counselors,

I’m not planning to exhibit at this year’s National Stationery Show, but I do want to walk the floor.  The problem is, I’m feeling massively overwhelmed!  Where should I start and what should I expect?

— Aubrey

Dear Aubrey,

Walking the floor at NSS is a great way to meet new people and to gauge if exhibiting at the show is a good fit for your business.  We know it can be overwhelming, so the best thing to do is come in with a game plan.  The National Stationery Show offers an NSS Planner to registered exhibitors and attendees that can help you create your walking list for the show.  Also, follow the #TSBCalum and #NSS2015 hashtags on Instagram to see fresh updates from exhibitors.  When you’re doing your research, think about what you hope to learn from the show: Is it to look at different booth configurations?  Is it to see what’s new?  This can help guide you in your planning stages.

When you get to the show, you want to make sure you follow some basic rules of etiquette:

1. Introduce Yourself. Always introduce yourself and let the exhibitors know you’re a designer who is considering doing the show.  Ask if you can check out their booth / products. Never pretend you’re a buyer or ask for catalogs or items intended for buyers.

2. Exhibitors are there to sell. Remember that exhibitors have spent months and thousands of dollars preparing for the show.  Be courteous and aware of what is happening while you’re in the booth. If a buyer walks in, step out so the exhibitor can take care of the buyer.

3. Proprietary Info. Most exhibitors are happy to answer general questions or share their experiences. However, steer clear of asking exhibitors proprietary questions about how they produce their products, which printer they use or where they sourced their booth materials, etc.

4. Taking Photos. Always ask permission prior to taking photos in a booth, especially product shots.  Most exhibitors encourage social media sharing, but be sure to tag the company and note the booth number.

You’ll find that most people are very welcoming (especially those of us in TSBC).  Bring business cards, a way to track contacts and to take notes. Build extra time into your schedule to allow for spontaneous discussions.  You never know who you’ll meet and where you’ll want to spend extra time, so allow yourself some flexibility.  If there’s anything you miss at the show, you can follow along on social media for updates.

Lastly, if you’re at the show, come say hi to Tradeshow Bootcamp!  We’re in booth # 2140.

— Katie Hunt, Tradeshow Bootcamp

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27 04, 2015

DEAR CAMP COUNSELORS | AM I REP READY?

By |April 27th, 2015|0 Comments|

How_to_Know_When_You're_Ready_For_A_Rep

Dear Camp Counselors,

I’ve been working hard on my stationery line and am eager to expand my sales reach.  Because of this, I’m considering working with a sales rep.  How do I know if I’m ready for a rep?

— Ella

Dear Ella,

Working with a sales rep is a great way to get your products in front of more buyers.  Keep in mind that there are two main kinds of reps: road reps and showroom reps.  A road rep meets with stores in their territory while showroom reps set up a shop where buyers come to them.  Some showroom reps also have road reps that work for them.  Think about what you want out of your partnership and determine what kind of rep might work best for your business.  Once you do that, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine if you’re rep ready.  These are some of the things I look for when scouting new lines for Crow & Canary (other reps may have different criteria):

  • Have you sold wholesale for more than two years?
  • Do you sell at least 48 unique products?
  • Do your products adhere to industry standards for size, pricing, minimums, etc.?
  • Are you releasing new products on a regular basis?
  • Do you have a wholesale catalog?
  • Are you active online?
  • Are you able to provide other sales tools to your reps, such as sample decks, etc.?

If you can answer yes to these questions, and you’ve determined that this is the right step for your business, it may be time to reach out to some reps.

Best wishes,

Carina Murray, Crow and Canary

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