24 01, 2017

Client Relationships: Management Tools for Creative Entrepreneurs

By |January 24th, 2017|0 Comments|

CRMs for Creative EntrepreneursEmailing prospects.

Following up with retailers after a show.

Tracking who you’ve sent catalogs and samples to in an organized fashion.

These are all good business practices that shouldn’t find you scrounging through old business cards or digging into your inbox. With the right customer relationship management tool, you can do all of these things (and so much more). And many of our favorites have added benefits too.

Here, we have a short review of some of the CRMs used by Paper Camp alumni, and resources we’ve found to really help you have positive client communications and relationships.

Podio

Podio is one of the more popular CRMs favored by our alums. It’s a project management system and contact management system rolled into one.

From a CRM standpoint, Podio allows you to track clients, their purchases, add notes and upload files to company profiles or specific contacts. When you send a retailer a catalog and a few samples, you can mark it for follow-up in a few weeks.

For project management, Podio enables you to create systems and project workflows for things like order fulfillment and other internal processes. Everyone on your team can see what tasks have been completed and what items still need to be tackled.

Depending on the level you choose, you can create visual reports, sync contacts with other tools, automate your workflow and more. Packages start at $9 a month for the basic plan.

Insightly

If you like to keep your contacts in your inbox, Insightly is a free tool that integrates with a number of accounting and business tools. Track leads, enter notes, create projects and milestones, know where a potential customer is in your sales funnel.

Additional benefits are available in paid versions of this tool, which starts at $12 a month per user.

FreshBooks & QuickBooks

FreshBooks and QuickBooks are both accounting programs, but they’re also handy for maintaining your customer lists and notes. You can also track revenue by client so you know which clients order more frequently and who places the highest volume orders.

If you’re doing custom work or collaborations, these tools also offer time tracking and reporting systems for revenue and expenses by project. Added bonus: Many accountants prefer QuickBooks for bookkeeping and organizing your finances for taxes. QuickBooks and Freshbooks are easy to use if you’re doing your own bookkeeping and taxes too.

Postable

While Postable isn’t a CRM service, they sure make it easy to build strong relationships with clients through snail mail. Their address book feature makes it easy to manage your mailing list and ensure your contact list is up-to-date. Simply send your contacts a link requesting their physical address and Postable will collect and/or update them in your address book for you.

You can also request birthdays of your contacts and Postable will send you a reminder so you can choose a card, type a message and they’ll print and send it for you. It’s a great resource for staying connected to your personal and business contacts. You can also export the list and move it to a full CRM at any time.

Whichever direction you decide to go, we recommend choosing something that helps keep you organized and efficient. We don’t know what we’d do without our own systems!

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22 11, 2016

Wholesaling: Target the Right Partners

By |November 22nd, 2016|1 Comment|

wholesale partnersRelationships are key in any business, and working with wholesale buyers is no exception. You need to do your homework to ensure that you’re targeting the right people in the right organizations before ever reaching out to anyone.

Retailers are looking for vendors who communicate openly and deliver on their promises. You’re looking to establish a relationship that will buy from you consistently—because finding the right partners takes time, which can cost you money.

Here are some tips to finding the right wholesale partners the first time, with the homework you need to get there:

  • Focus on quality over quantity. It is much more cost-effective to have a few good, quality partners than many so-so partners. Look at potential partners’ store aesthetic and whether they sell complementary brands. When you partner with the right store, you’ll find the return is much higher. And you’ll spend less time and effort marketing to partners that aren’t ideal.
  • Go beyond the website. The internet is a good place to start researching potential wholesale partners, but there’s so much more to a business than just its website. Are leaders attending trade shows? How are they showing up on social media? Is there a brick-and-mortar location? What’s the clientele? What types of products and which brands do they carry? The more you know about the potential partner, the more effective that first point of contact will be.
  • Hunt down hashtags. The stationery business is all over Instagram. Are you following the leaders? Find out what they’re posting and hashtaging on social media and start following those that resonate with you and your product, then join the conversation.
  • Above all, relationships. The retail stores you work with are your customers. Focus on customer experience and do everything you can to build up your relationship and lift up the customers you work with. Find out what their customers are looking for, answer their questions quickly and completely, be flexible (but have written terms and conditions) and use every contact point as an opportunity to grow your relationship with them.

When you have the right partners in your pocket, you’ll be set up for long-lasting relationships with stores that will help you build your business—just as you’re helping them grow theirs.

Having trouble finding the right group of partners? Our printable checklist will help you figure out what to look for in a partner, where to find them and how to maintain contact.

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11 11, 2015

WISH I KNEW | BEFORE EXHIBITING AT NY NOW

By |November 11th, 2015|0 Comments|

Kristen Ley

At Tradeshow Bootcamp you often hear us talking about the National Stationery Show, or NSS, but that’s not the only trade show for the wholesale market.  Held annually in New York City, NY NOW is a large trade show for the Home, Lifestyle, and Gift Markets and it happens to be the second most popular wholesale show for our TSBC community!

TSBC alumnus Kristen Ley, owner of Thimblepress® in Jackson, MS, has exhibited at NY NOW twice and has some great advice to share with us today.   Thimblepress® creates paper goods (hand painted, drawn and letterpress), lifestyle products, party goods, and Push-Pop Confetti™.  In addition to NY NOW, Kristen has exhibited at the National Stationery Show three times, Chicago Gift Market, and the company is represented by Daniel*Richards Group, Lynn Mitchell Group, and Nolita Home in all of their respected showrooms across the country. Thimblepress® has been in business since January 2012, and Kristen feels very lucky to get to do what she loves every single day.  You can follow along with her cat Norman and her two gooldendoodles, Willow (4) and Henry (5 mo.), at @thimblepets on Instagram.  Without further ado, here is Kristen’s take on 3 things she wish she knew before exhibiting at NY NOW.

1. NY NOW is a lot larger than NSS, like a LOT larger. I don’t think in my head I was prepared for how big it is, but that is definitely not a bad thing. Being such a large show, it brings a very large crowd and exposes you to buyers you may not have been exposed to at other shows. Just bring your walking shoes if you want to take a break to walk the show, because it takes a while!

2. At NY NOW it is super important to get a good spot for your booth. Luckily they have done away with the pier, which is amazing, but it is still super important to always ask for a good booth spot. Being in the wrong spot at NY NOW can possibly take a toll on sales, and if you are paying all that money to be there, it is definitely worth requesting and asking to be in an area you want to be in.

3. NY NOW has longer show hours, or at least it feels like they are longer, and again, that is not always a bad thing. Longer show hours mean more hours to sell, which is great, just make sure you have the proper shoes, lots of caffeine and a good attitude!

I really love NY NOW. I love the hustle and bustle of the show, and the fact that ALL the food and beverage options are open in the Javits during the show (although there is a small grocery/restaurant right down from the Javits which is amazing!). I think if you go into any show with a good attitude and not too many high expectations for yourself you will always come out a winner. It is very true that a lot of relationships are made and forged outside of the show and months down the road, so make sure to always follow up!

Thanks Kristen!

What are 3 things you wish you knew before …? Comment below or send an email to Katie at katie@tradeshowcamp.com.

 

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6 11, 2015

WISH I KNEW | EXHIBITING IN A DOUBLE BOOTH

By |November 6th, 2015|0 Comments|

the social type nss booth

There are a number of options for booth sizes and configurations at wholesale trade shows, and each has pros and cons.  Today Allison Brennan, co-owner of The Social Type, is with us to weigh in on her experiences with a double corner booth at NSS.  The Social Type is a paper and gift company based in Los Angeles.  They will be exhibiting at the NSS in 2016, for their fifth consecutive show.  Here are three things Allison wishes she knew before choosing a double booth.

1. NY NOW booth sizes vary (compared to NSS booths) and we won’t be able to use the exact configuration if we decide to also exhibit at NY NOW. We wish we would have planned ahead when building and shipping our booth so that we could easily convert our double booth to use in a booth space at NY NOW. We are now storing our crate in NJ so reconfiguring it, and sending new pieces and parts will be challenging.

2. The carpeting that Javits rolls through the aisle after set-up doesn’t hit exactly where you think it will. When we were done with our set up, we placed all of our extra foam flooring back in our crate to be stored until the show’s end. Unfortunately we didn’t realize ahead of time that our floor wouldn’t extend to the carpet. It wasn’t a huge issue, but it bugged us that you could see about 5″ of concrete between our floor and the aisle carpeting. Had we kept extra tiles out, we could have easily fixed the problem. We didn’t run into this issue when we were in-line.

3. Having Javits Union Workers install your lights is much easier! We had planned on installing our own lights/electrical at the show, but when it came down to the wire (no pun intended) we asked Exhibitor Services to do it. It saved time and was totally worth the couple extra bucks! We will certainly have them do it again for future shows. Unless you’re an electrical wiz, save yourself from the hassle, especially as your booth grows in size.

*We purchased LED clamp lights (6 for a double corner), and brought our own power strips and extension cords.

Thanks, Allison!  We really love the tip about planning ahead.  It’s great to keep your options flexible for different types of exhibits as you never know where your business will go in the future.

What are 3 things you wish you knew before…?  Send an email to Katie at katie@tradeshowcamp.com

 

 

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25 09, 2015

WISH I KNEW | GOING INTO BUSINESS WITH A SPOUSE

By |September 25th, 2015|0 Comments|

Ian and Tanya Grant

Hi everyone, it’s Tanya, the blog manager here at TSBC.  Katie asked me to chime in on the topic of going into business with a spouse.  It’s no coincedence – Katie and I actually met when my husband and I photographed her wedding!  I’ve been working with my husband, Ian, in some capacity for the last 10 years, and it’s been quite a journey.  Over time we’ve launched an event photography business, a school photography business, a headshot photography business, and most recently a product-based (rather than service-based) business, not to mention juggling each of our individual freelance projects.

I remember sitting in a bookstore, reading about different business entities, when Ian asked me if I’d like to make an LLC with him.  Sexy, right?  At the time we weren’t even engaged, so it felt like a very big step in both our business and our relationship.  Luckily, taking the plunge into business together has been rewarding, but it hasn’t been without frustration.  Here are the three things I wish I knew before going into business with a spouse.

1. Learn each other’s work styles.  This may sound like common sense, but trust me, it has taken trial and error to make our day-to-day businesses flow.  I’m the annoying combination of both a Type-A personality and a morning person, while my husband is decidedly a night owl.  By the time he starts at the office each day, I’ve already been working away and have a list of things to discuss with him.  It drives him crazy when I bring up a to do list before he’s had a chance for his brain to wake up.  Similarly, bringing up work-related topics before bedtime (when he’s alert) means my mind races and I can’t sleep.  We’ve had to find a time for these chats that works for both of us.  We take daily walks at lunchtime to catch each other up on our ideas and to steer the businesses.

Going along with the time of day that you and your spouse work best, there’s also the environment in which you work best.  I usually like a quiet workplace when I’m doing creative work like writing blog posts, but Ian is happy to have a documentary running in the background.  Most days we make it work (thank you headphones!), but some days we just need to pull the laptop into a separate room.  Working with each other doesn’t mean you have to work with each other in the moments you each need your space.

2. Divide and conquer, but also cross-train.  You and your spouse most likely have a different set of skills.  This usually benefits your business, and it’s great to play to your strengths.  I come from a background in corporate sales while my husband has lived the entertainment-industry freelancer lifestyle.  I can rock a spreadsheet while he’s a whiz at Photoshop.  This is great, because we can cover the different aspects of the business needed to make it thrive.  This also leads to a natural division of tasks and helps us be the most efficient in accomplishing them.  That being said, if someone’s sick or unable to work, we need to make sure the business can still flow.  Make sure you cross-train on the daily functions that keep your business running – whether that’s fulfilling orders, getting back to customers, or contacting vendors.

2a. Communicate.  Ok, I threw in a bonus, here.  Going along with divide and conquer is the idea that you need to communicate what you are each working on.  Setting clear expectations means the work gets done and nothing falls through the cracks.  For me and my husband, we use a set of shared Google docs to store information and to-do lists.  There’s also something to be said for a giant whiteboard to write down daily tasks.  Find whatever method or tools work for you, and make sure you check in time to time to reevaluate.

3. Know the big picture.  It’s important to be on the same page with your spouse when it comes to both the direction of your business and the direction of your life.  Write a list of your goals for the business as well as the steps you need to take to get it there.  When you both know the overall goal, it helps you prioritize each of your individual tasks.  At the same time, keep in mind that you’re most likely working together so you have a certain sort of lifestyle with your partner.  This means making sure you actually get to have a life outside of work.  When life gets hectic (and in entrepreneurship, it does!), make time to be together outside of work.  If this means hiring a babysitter and making dinner reservations, go for it.  There’s no one in life who will understand your unique journey the way that your spouse will, so make sure you nurture your relationship.

I would love to hear – for those of you working with a spouse, what are the ways that you’re making it work?

 

What are 3 things you wish you knew before…?  Send an email to Katie at katie@tradeshowcamp.com

 

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29 04, 2015

3 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE STARTING MY BUSINESS JOURNEY

By |April 29th, 2015|0 Comments|

Sugar&Type_advice_Wish_I_Knew

At Tradeshow Bootcamp we know that people are in all different stages of their business journey.  Some of our alumni may be making final plans for the National Stationery Show and some may be just starting out with launching a website.  Today Ilana Zatkowsky of Sugar & Type is sharing three things she wishes she knew before starting her business journey.  Sugar & Type specializes in branding and paper goods, and the designs are filled with a ton of heart.

1. I wish I knew that the possibilities were endless!  Owning a business can mean so many things. it can mean setting your hours, or it can mean working around the clock.  You get to make that choice!  You’re the boss!  It’s hard to remember that when you’re thinking about everything else.

2. I wish I knew that it was okay to ask tons of questions.  I was nervous to reach out to people in the industry, and the response I got was overwhelmingly incredible.  Communities like TSBC exist to help!  They want you to succeed, and you’ll make incredible friendships along the way.  I often times feel like a five year old asking “why” “why” why”?  And that’s okay!

3. I wish I knew that there were so many others in the same boat.  Finding the TBSC and other communities where like minded people come together has been instrumental for me.  Chances are, someone else has been in my position, and maybe they can offer some insight, or just an outlet to talk about it.

Thanks Ilana!  We love your comments about finding a community – that’s part of why we started TSBC!

What are 3 things you wish you knew before …?  Comment below or send an email to Katie at katie@tradeshowcamp.com.

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10 04, 2015

3 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE DOING CRAFT SHOWS

By |April 10th, 2015|0 Comments|

Noteify_craft_show_booth_example

notify_craft_show_booth_example

While we often talk about the National Stationery Show here at TSBC, NSS (and wholesale!) isn’t the only way to expose your work to the public. Craft shows are another great option for displaying and selling your work, and today Samantha Barsky is sharing three things she wish she knew before exhibiting at craft shows.  Samantha is the creator of note•ify, an eco-friendly, city-inspired paper products and soft goods company, and gift•ify, an online gift-giving service.  Read further to learn her hilarious and insightful pieces of advice.

1. Doing outdoor craft shows is always a little dicey, between the wind, the rain, and even the sun!  I’ve done shows where it has been so hot that the cards in their plastic sleeves build up condensation and start sweating.  Not a good look.

2. Also with outdoor craft shows, and some indoor ones, the bathroom situation is not the best.  I recommend bringing your own TP, hand wipes (no sinks), and using the bathroom before the end of the day when they are full (gross!).

3. The best part of doing craft shows is meeting your customers face-to-face and hearing their reaction to your work.  If you are doing wholesale as a primary business, this is a great opportunity to test out new products, and hear what people think of your tried and true products as well.

Thanks so much, Samantha!

What are 3 things you wish you knew before …?  Comment below or send an email to Katie at katie@tradeshowcamp.com.

 

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2 04, 2015

3 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE RETURNING TO NSS

By |April 2nd, 2015|0 Comments|

 

RiverDogPrints

As this year’s National Stationery Show draws near, it’s good to keep in mind that even if you’ve exhibited before, there is always room to learn and grow for your next show.  Today we’re tapping Cyn Thomas from RiverDog Prints for her welcome advice for those returning to NSS for a second (or more!) year.  Cyn is the illustrator, designer and pattern maker at RiverDog Prints and her paper goods and gifts are guided by earth, animals, function, food and cocktails.  You can also find Cyn canning in her kitchen, walking her dog, being outnumbered by her boys and husband, or reading herself to sleep.

1. I wish I had remembered how warm it is during setup in Javits.  I dressed for the weather outside instead of the hella hot environment inside.  Shorts and a tank top next time.

2. I wish I had been more proactive in finding someone to work the show with me.  I had help during setup and break down, but not during the show itself.  Just having someone for one day would have allowed me time to see other booths and visit other designers.

3. I wish I had made the decision to exhibit much sooner than I did this second time around.  Waiting is just procrastinating.  When the emails come in the fall from the show, it may seem too early, but the booths go fast.  I need to ready with a decision, whatever that may be.

Thanks, Cyn!  We especially love the tip about walking the show.  There is so much to be gained from visiting other booths – networking, keeping on top of trends, and building camaraderie, to name a few.

What are 3 things you wish you knew before …? Comment below or send an email to Katie at katie@tradeshowcamp.com.

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18 03, 2015

3 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED MY BLOG TO SUPPORT AND DRIVE TRAFFIC TO MY CREATIVE BUSINESS

By |March 18th, 2015|0 Comments|

KBattyBlog

Kerry Batty, graphic designer and stationery-maker at K. Batty Design & Stationery, started a blog to help drive traffic to her creative business. To Kerry, a blog was a great way to increase SEO, attract customers, and drive interest in her products and processes, plus she loves to write. Today she’s sharing what she wish she knew before starting her blogging journey.

1. It takes a (expletive) load of time. Planning posts, writing, linking, editing, proofreading…even thinking up topics all takes TIME. I wish I had planned more & started with a more solid understanding of creating & using an editorial calendar.

2. Like all good listings on Etsy, good photos on your blog = good traffic, shares, pins & reposts. Good photos usually also equal good content. Both of which take…you guessed it…time. It’s not that I didn’t know that. It is definitely a no-brainer. I just didn’t account for the extra time when I launched my blog. These days I try to make my shop photos do double-duty on my blog if at all possible.

3. It takes as much time to promote your blog as it does to promote your shop & products. If you build it, they (readers I mean) will not magically appear to read these posts you’ve spent so much time on. You must drive traffic to your blog the way you drive traffic to the site that actually makes you $$.

Having a blog is totally & completely worth while. It is a chore, but I do love it. Customers have definitely found me that way. I recommend anyone who is planning to start blogging about their business to have a clear idea WHY they are doing it, who they are trying to reach & do A LOT of planning before hand. I have resources on both of those topics (as well as promoting your blog) if you’d like them!

What are 3 things you wish you knew before …? Comment below or send an email to Katie at katie@tradeshowcamp.com.

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2 03, 2015

3 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE EXHIBITING AT NSS

By |March 2nd, 2015|0 Comments|

TSBC alum Betsy White Stationery

Gia Graham of Betsywhite Stationery, a paper goods company with old school ideals and new school charm, attended Paper Camp in 2013 and exhibited at NSS for the first time in 2014. Today Gia is sharing three things she wish she knew before exhibiting.

1. Doing math under pressure is damn near IMPOSSIBLE – even with a calculator! I didn’t have space on my order form to include a quantity calculation cheat sheet (like Lisa from Sapling Press does) so I figured “meh, I’ll have a calculator, I’ll figure it out”. Yeah, no. On the morning of day 2, I scribbled down a quick list of all my price points and multiples (for example: $2.25 x 6 = $13.50, 2.25 x 12 = $27, etc.) so that I could quickly fill out the subtotal column of the order form and all I’d have to add up is the total. Next time, I’ll have that printed out ahead of time.

2. I had no idea how long it would take to break down my booth. So many booths around us seemed to pack up in a flash but we were there until 6pm (even though our palette came pretty quickly). We didn’t abandon any product or furniture so it all had to be disassembled and packed back up. I’ll have to figure out a way to simplify the breakdown/packing up process.

3. Wish I knew I’d run out of packing tape. I thought we had plenty but alas, we ran out in the final hour. Most of our friends/neighbors had already cleared out so I ended up buying a tiny roll from the Javits FedEx for NINE &$#!% dollars!! Next time I’m packing like 12 rolls.

Aside from those minor things, I was actually super prepared for the show and didn’t really encounter any surprised or snafus, thanks to TSBC!!

What are 3 things you wish you knew before …? Comment below or send an email to katie@tradeshowcamp.com

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