Monday, 21 February 2011

Spring Fair NEC - Part 2 Sarah's Take On It

Well as promised I wanted to give a different point of view on our recent trade event, I was obviously deeply concerned about the cost to Strawberry Annie's etc while Sarah had come along to work the stand with me and wanted it to be a scucess I felt it might be interesting to see what her thoughts on the event where and here it is.....

I tagged along with Strawberry Annie's and the truly scrumptious boutique to the Spring Fair at NEC. We had an amazingly kitsch stand and went all out with the 1950's kitchen theme- even dressed up! The response we got was very flattering. Our display really turned heads, and feedback on our products was excellent.

My impressions of the event overall were mixed. It really is an enormous venue, split into halls in an attempt to categorise and simplify things but I don't know that this really worked. General product descriptions meant that the Strawberry Annie's stall could just as easily have been put in the hall for 'Design led products' or 'fashion accessories' or 'Childrens' instead of the hall where we were placed (Gifts and household) also, the placing of certain stalls seemed a bit bizarre, in some cases direct competitors were placed next to each other and in other areas several totally unrelated products would be in a row. Basicly, I got the impression that the buyers were wandering aimlessly in the hope of stumbling across something of interest.

Luckily for us, some of the people that were wandering past did take an interest and we were able to make contact with a range of buyers. The foot flow in our area was lower than I had expected but the quality of the orders we achieved was good so overall I think we had a good week.

Sarah x

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Trade Fair at NEC - Part 1 My Take

Well better late than never a little update on the Strawberries first trade fair.

I had planned to start this post so many times over the last couple of weeks but have put it off and it is only today that I can pinpoint the reason why, mainly disappointment.

Spring Fair International at the NEC is a massive event with over 72,000 visitors, so I felt justified in spending enormous amounts of money having a stand there. It was Strawberry Annie's first trade event, so I was unsure what to expect but felt it was necessary to set goals in order to judge whether it was a worthwhile investment.

Without getting too bogged down in details, suffice to say I did not manage to meet what I felt were realistic objectives, however it was not a total disaster and I learnt some very valuable lessons for any future trade fairs.

I opened new accounts, met some of my customers and got some valuable leads just not in the amounts that I had hoped for.

Spring Fair is clearly not that interested in looking after the smaller companies as I felt we had been ill advised as to what hall to go in. We were completely lost among the bigger stands and where not reaching our target customers. The footfall past the stall was very slow, in fact on three days there were more exhibitors there than visitors.

I am miffed that we had to pay £200 +VAT for marketing but apart from a link on the website I am unsure what this was for?

Right enough of the downbeat stuff on a more personal level, the event was good fun, I had my lovely friend Sarah Timms from Photos By Sarah Photography, to keep me company. Whenever I felt my smile slipping a little she had me back on form in no time, particularly with her running man demonstration in the aisle.

Wandering around the halls it was easy to spot the companies that were not having a good show, some looked very dejected but this in turn can be very off putting to potential buyers, so I worked extra hard to be upbeat at all times.

We based our stand around our branding of being 'The Truly Scrumptious Boutique' and had a genuine 1940's cooker as our focal point of the stand, product was displayed in baking tins, cupcake cases, and even saucepans and to complete the look we dressed in vintage style dresses with hair up in bows etc. It was a novelty to dress smartly each day and it was like being a 'proper grown up' again, something which gets lost among school runs and working on your own every day.

Overall I am pleased with what we achieved, we have secured some new customers which are very promising for the future and we received positive feedback on our products.

Would I do it again? probably not Spring Fair but definitely a different one more interested in its exhibitors.

I am going to ask Sarah for her feedback on the event and will blog this tomorrow.