[Sami Jensen] Yesterday we introduced you to the founder of Tradeshow Bootcamp, a web-gone-live workshop series initially designed to help emerging stationers make the best out of exhibiting at large industry tradeshows. Today, four bootcamp alumni share what they learned from the workshops and their experiences as first-time exhibitors at National Stationery Show 2011.
Allow me to introduce them to you: Claudia Smith, Fig. 2 Design; Nicole Block, The Nic Studio; Rich Sherman, J. Ames Art Parlor; and Robyn Wehab, meant to be sent; participated in the first-ever Tradeshow Bootcamp (TSBC) webinar series last spring. With newfound knowledge in hand, all four went on to exhibit at last year’s National Stationery Show. They did so well that, like Katie Hunt (TSBC’s founder), they wanted to pay it forward by teaching during TSBC’s fall series. We’re happy they’ve decided to share their stories with us, too.
Claudia Smith, Fig. 2 Design
“Being a first-time exhibitor at the National Stationery Show last year was exciting but nerve-wracking at the same time,” says Claudia Smith, founder, designer and resident color lovah of Fig. 2 Design. “Even though I walked the show in 2010 and did my best to study booth construction, products, etc., you just don’t realize all the questions you might have until you actually dive in.” Enter Tradeshow Bootcamp.
“TSBC was a huge stress reliever. Nobody was trying to sell me anything. You got insight and answers from actual exhibitors who had done it before and could give you real-life answers regarding what lighting is best, how to do your own walls, etc. The other biggest help was hearing from shop owners and media regarding what they were looking for in a new exhibitor, what their preferences were for payment methods and press kits, and what they liked or didn’t like from years past. I honestly don’t think I would have felt as prepared had it not been for TSBC.”
When Claudia returned to TSBC last fall, it was to teach and share her experience. “In the fall session, I discussed how I launched an extensive wedding collection, boxed notes and gift tags at the Stationery Show. I talked about how I began preparing for it one year in advance and how I documented progress on my blog. Blogging about my experience made me think someone might be reading and kept me on track. It was one of the best things I could have done.”
Nicole Block, The Nic Studio
Nicole Block, illustrator, designer and founder of The Nic Studio, knew she was going to exhibit at the 2011 National Stationery Show even before learning about Tradeshow Bootcamp. “It was the natural next step for my business. In fact, I felt it was the only next step — if I didn’t do it, the business would die a natural death,” she says.
This realization put a lot of pressure on her, but she says she breathed a heavy sigh of relief when she “found” Tradeshow Bootcamp. “The TSBC sessions were a lifesaver and gave me so much information in such a short amount of time that I would not have had otherwise. For example, I learned that I needed at least 40 cards for my line. I would have brought a maximum of 20 if I hadn’t known! Plus, I realized that I could create my own booth rather than paying someone to build it, and that I should set up my booth to accept credits cards.”
During the fall TSBC session, Nic spoke about being a first-timer at the National Stationery Show. “I was there to help boost the egos of future first-timers, plus share some tips on what not to forget. Really, I just wanted everyone to know that it’s going to be all right, and the show will help in one way or another, so the experience should only be positive.”
Richard Sherman, J. Ames Greetings
Ask Richard Sherman, owner and designer of J. Ames Greetings, about being a first-time exhibitor at last year’s National Stationery Show, and he’ll describe it as a rewarding experience. “When you invest that much time, energy and passion into what you are doing and then stand back and look at your booth, you can’t help but think ‘I am doing it.’ To be among so many of your peers under one roof and share in that experience is so amazing.”
After participating in the Tradeshow Bootcamp spring series, Rich says he approached exhibiting at the Stationery Show without expectations, but with a very clear vision, approach and goals. “I knew what my booth would look like, what I wanted to accomplish, and who I wanted to meet.”
Rich’s presentation during the fall TSBC workshops was simple, and had two major themes: Know who you are and don’t be afraid to ask questions. “Everyone will have an opinion once you put yourself out there,” says Rich. “Take in as much as you can, note things that you would consider doing in the future. See how other booths are constructed. Never rule anything out — there is a lot of good advice you can use while still maintaining who you are as a company. Meet your peers and ask questions!”
Robyn Wehab, meant to be sent
Robyn Wehab, designer and founder of meant to be sent, describes exhibiting at the National Stationery Show for the first time in a series of “e” words: exhilarating, exhausting and exciting. “Being a first time exhibitor was crazy amazing,” says Robyn. “I made great connections and lots of new friends.”
A major key to her success, she reports, was Tradeshow Bootcamp’s spring workshops. “It prepared me for things I would have never even thought to ask and armed me with the inside scoop from experienced exhibitors. It was incredibly helpful in that it was presented as a series of workshops, so it wasn’t overwhelming. They offered outlines of each lesson and an audio download so you could refer to it later, which took the pressure off during the session, allowing you to take in the content and jot down questions.”
Thrilled with her experience as a student of TSBC, Robyn returned to the fall workshops to report on her learnings from exhibiting. Says Robyn, “My presentation focused mostly on booth design/setup, printing and things that I will do the same or differently in 2012. I also shared what I believe is the best advice I received while preparing for my first show: ‘You’ll never get it all done.’ It’s just true.”
Top image: Fig. 2 Design’s booth at the 2011 National Stationery Show. Chandra Greer, Greer, commented that she “considered checking out of my hotel to move into newcomer Fig. 2 Design Studio’s colorfully sweet and welcoming booth” in her article on Felt & Wire.