In looking at my photos today I realize what a terrible job I did at taking any photos in the Sakura booth, where I spent two days running the "mini canvas make and take" from 9am-5pm. Ooops!
But I have a really good excuse.
On Monday night I came down with something terrible. Some kind of hideous stomach bug or food poisoning or something. I have to admit that it meant that Monday night, Tuesday, and Wednesday kind of went by in a sweaty haze. I was trying my best not to let anyone know that I was sick. But honestly, it was unbelievably draining to feel so terrible while trying to give everyone a good make and take experience.
So I'm sorry if you saw me and I was sweaty and incoherent. I was trying my best!
All that aside, I really enjoyed doing the make and takes. I know I've mentioned this before, but I'm very shy. So I don't usually go up to people and just chat. It was super fun to have the chance to ask people what they liked and what they thought the major trends were, etc.
Here are a few photos of me at the booth:
And this is my point-of-view from behind the table (that's my friend Chi helping clear things up in the center):
Here's the deal. The manufacturers run make and takes for many reasons. The major ones are:
- To educate.
- To increase sales/interest.
- To gather new customers (which is kind of an offshoot of #2, obviously).
I don't know how other manufacturers do it, but when Sakura contacted me to do the make and takes for them, they let me know (a) which of their products they wanted me to use, and (b) that they wanted to use mini canvases as the base. They sent me the supplies and I came up with several samples. Luckily, they liked all of the samples and so that part was easy. It also helps that I actually love and use my Sakura pens, which makes it easy for me to wax poetic about them.
Each time somebody would sit down at the make-and-take table, it was my job to make them feel positively about the pens and the company. Along the way I had some fun, learned a lot, and met so many wonderful people.
It's very random, but here are some things that are on my mind because of my booth experience:
THE BASICS OF BADGES
- Everyone who walks into CHA must have a badge.
- You must be a supplier, buyer, or industry professional to get a badge. This is a trade show for conducting business.
- The badges are color coded for easy identification. This time around buyers were orange. The suppliers were red. Service providers were pink. Press badges were green? I can't remember that one actually.
- Only suppliers (i.e. manufacturers and their reps) can be on the show floor before and after the official hours of the show. This is so you can set up your booth, get ready, have meetings, etc.
- Theoretically, only those with press badges can take photos. Almost always, others can take photos as long as they ask for permission from the booth owner. Though most don't like you to take photos if you're wearing a badge from another manufacturer.
- Some people have multiple badges for the many hats they wear.
- When you walk into a booth, one of the first things that people look at is the badge. In my experience, they want you to be wearing an orange badge (i.e. buyer). This is a show about selling product, after all.
- Most people are simply wearing their badge around their neck on an elastic cord, but you can get fancy with all sorts of badge pouches or necklaces that hold your badge.
I had a red supplier badge courtesy of Sakura. So I was able to come into the show floor early. I had always wondered what went on in those early morning hours. Mostly it's networking, coffee, some sleepy unpacking of supplies, and a general girding of the loins for the upcoming day.
An announcement is made over the P.A. system about five minutes before the show opens. That generally leads to some scurrying around as people head towards their booths. And another announcement is made right when the show opens and they flip on the lights. And then in come all the people!
Schmoozing, otherwise known as networking, is key to the entire CHA experience. The nice thing about working in a booth is that loads and loads of very nice people come by to say hello. Sadly, I was not thinking clearly and didn't manage to get a photo with everyone (thank you so much to all of you who stopped by to play with me!) Here are few pics I did manage to get:
That is the über talented Alisa Burke in the center. I am an ENORMOUS fan of hers. She's crafty and artsy and totally creative! I stumbled upon her blog and it was love at first sight. We share an affinity for paint, experimentation, and toilet paper tubes. And now, after meeting her up close and personal, I can tell you that she is super sweet to boot! I'm hoping to take a class from her when she swings up my way and soak up some of her lovely talent!That's Lucy Edson on the right. She is a scrapbooking encyclopedia. Show her a project and she'll tell you who made it and most of their resume. It's an amazing skill! She is also really good at making connections. She's very friendly and smiley and I watched in awe as she sweet talked everyone she came in contact with. She walked away from CHA with far more schwag than anyone I know!
I was so pleased to meet Jana Wilson, the editor-in-chief of Somerset Memories. She was with the whole Somerset crew and they were all totally lovely. I was shocked that she knew who I was and was delighted to take a photo with her. She's tiny, though. I am really crouching in the photo above. I had kind of a Godzilla thing going on all week. I'd stand up from behind the table to greet someone and it was like, "Raaaaaaaar! I am going to eat your city!" I'm only 5'8", but it often felt like I was a giant!
Here I am with the very talented Gaelle all the way from France. And Miss Nat Kalbach all the way from Germany. We're all designers for Sultane, a French paper company. I always feel so impressed by these girls. Not simply because they're amazing designers, but because English is a second (or even third language) and they are able to speak, write, read, and conduct business in English. We had a lot of international scrapbookers stop by the booth and that was great fun!
Thank you to everyone who stopped by to play!! I met a lot of blog readers and Scrapbook Memories TV fans and that was awesome! I even felt like a celebrity for a brief moment when I was asked to sign an autograph! (How fun is that?!)
For next time, some important schmoozing notes for myself:
- Pull out the camera more often! I want pics of everyone! (With the possible exception of Rebekah Meier, whom I met in the ladies room and that just would have been awkward! I think it was a good choice not to insist on a picture by the sinks! PS: Buy her book if you don't own it yet!)
- Be less shy! I know I don't seem that shy (I'm good at faking it) but I get a little tongue tied and sometimes it comes across as cold or something, but it's not.
- I loved handing out my new business cards. But Nat (from the photo above) did me one better. She had lovely little brochures advertising her teaching and designing skills and I thought that was brilliant. CHA is such a blur of faces and names, what a great way for people to remember you when they get home!
- GET business cards from everyone! Lots of lovely people came by the booth and I can remember what they looked like and the conversations we had, but not their names. I have nothing to help me. So sad.
QUESTIONS ARE HELPFUL
Teaching a make-and-take is just like teaching a quick class. And one of the very best thing about doing live teaching is the questions. I *love* questions. Questions do four things for me as a teacher:
- They are an indication that the student is interested and wants to know more.
- They help me identify places where I'm not being clear - especially if more than one student has the same question.
- Conversely, they help me figure out what I'm explaining well. (When no one has a question about it.)
- They help me identify areas of knowledge that I need to develop in myself. (If someone asks me a question that I can't answer.)
Some examples from the make-and-takes:
- I discovered that actual buyers tended to ask a lot of technical questions about how the pens worked. They were very interested in learning the specifics of how the product worked and how the various pens were different. People who were just having fun doing the make-and-takes were polite and fun, but rarely asked very specific questions.
- I kept referring to the souffle pens as "matte" as opposed to the "shiny" glaze pens. But people kept getting confused. I think maybe it was a bad word choice. At dinner someone suggested "pastel" or "flat" might be better. So the second day, I switched to "pastel" instead of "matte" and it seemed to clear things up. Good lesson for me!
- I repeated the same white pen demo over and over and over because it worked every single time. People reacted incredibly positively and had no questions afterwards.
- Understandably, I got a lot of sales questions. At the beginning, I knew nothing about prices or distribution, but by the end of the two days, I was able to throw back a few figures or at least refer the questions to the proper person in the booth.
PROS AND CONS
Finally, a quick look at the pros and cons of my booth working experience:
- PRO: Early entry onto the show floor. Late exit too!
- CON: Have to stay in the booth and don't get to walk around.
- PRO: You are easy to find, located at a single spot.
- CON: You can't have a long conversation with anyone because you've got work to do!
- PRO: My feet didn't hurt because I got to sit down behind a table all day.
- CON: My butt hurt from sitting all day (okay, that one is kind of a silly whine!)
- PRO: I *loved* meeting so many different people and talking to them about the show!
- CON: I had to be perky for 8 hours a day.
- PRO: I felt like I had a purpose in being at CHA. Like I was an important part of the food chain.
- CON: I had to stare at people eating ice cream all day long. (Seriously, there was an ice cream cart directly across from our booth. It was torture!)
- PRO: In listening to people's questions and comments about the pens and the mini canvases I feel like I learned a lot about the market.
- PRO: I think I'm a better teacher for Sakura now. I understand their business a bit better after talking to some of the sales guys in the booth.
- PRO: I can rock a mini canvas like no one else at this point!
- PRO: I started to fool around with the pens when the booth would get slow and I figured out a few fun new-to-me techniques!
Well, it's late. And I'm supposed to be sleeping. More later!
Thanks for stopping by!