Monday, 30 March 2015

An exhibition learning curve

Thursday the 19th March was my first indoor disability exhibition as a stand holder!

A stand at the Kidz In The Middle exhibition in Coventry.

It was exhilarating and exhausting - it's taken me until now to get back to my usual level of functioning, but it was worth it.

It took a lot of planning - I spent most of my time for the 4 weeks up to it deciding on freebies, designing posters and leaflets, and coming up with ways to display my products for sale without causing total information overload.

After much deliberation I decided to go for having 1 of most things on display except the keyring cards and car stickers, which I featured in a brochure instead, so people could browse through and we could get the ones they wanted from storage out of sight.

The plan was to have 4 of us, so we could each have a couple of long breaks, as well as being able to go for a wander and meet other stand holders.

Deciding whether to opt for lighting or not was a huge decision: would it make much difference? Would it make me overheat and crumple? Was it worth the extra cost? - opting in the end for a single strip light.

What I learnt, as a stand holder targeting a combination of brand-awareness-raising and sales:


  1.   Less is more: having sample products out and stock hidden worked.
  2. Two people is not enough for a busy stand. (2 of my assistants had to drop out due to unpreventable stuff - it was just bad luck it happened to be half my team!)
  3. If you want to get round to see other stalls, bring more staff! I only saw my neighbours and a few en route to the loo!
  4. Bright, interesting, relevant, new products draw a crowd (between 11:00 and 15:00 we probably had a total of 5 minutes without people at our stand!)
  5. I don't need as much stock next time - some people will buy, but many will just browse and get information.
  6. Always have additional light. It makes a huge difference! (And if you overheat easily, get a striplight/fluorescent tube light NOT spot lights)
  7. Have packs ready made to hand out. When people are standing 2 -3 deep at your stand and waiting to get to the table, being able to pass a pack through the crowd to them means you reach them even if they decide to move on before the crowd clears.
  8. Iron your table cloths. (Or get someone else to. I forgot and regretted it)
  9. By 3pm everyone has a glazed look. Don't try to engage exhausted customers in conversation- instead acknowledge it's been a tiring day and hand them some info to be looked at later.
  10. If you are selling, make your prices easy. Give discounts so that all values are easy to add up! (no items with pesky 99p in them, and have a calculator as back-up)
  11. Keep a 'lie on the floor' space behind the stand. This proved to be an invaluable pacing tool for me as lying down is an important way I manage my POTS. 
  12. Set everything up the day before, so on the actual morning you arrive fresh and full of energy, ready for your customers - trust me, you'll need it!
  13. Check out where the toilets are the day before (- and the quickest route to them)
  14. Enjoy it! - people like speaking to people who are enjoying what they are doing. 
Oh, and there were no wheelchair access issues! - which is high praise indeed :D but make sure you plan your own stand to let you get around it as you need to.

As a small business just testing the water, it was reassuring to see that the most popular items were ones I love too:
The 'Today is' wristband set, and the 'Sensory Overload' keyring card. (followed closely by the pink 'differently normal' lanyards!)

    

All in all, it was a very successful day.

It was also lovely to get to meet some of the KIM team  - well done guys, it was a great event, and I look forward to doing more.

My personal highlight?
Winning the 'stand selfie' competition 


Yes, I am a responsible adult. That is why I draw stickmen for a living.

Friday, 13 March 2015

More exhibition planning

'Kidz in the Middle' is approaching far too fast!

And so is a cold. Which I am hoping speeds up so it passes before the 19th.

I have leaflets printed.
I have freebies sorted (sticker sheets, carrier bags and pens)
I have staff....well, almost. I have essential level staff, but am working on 'make this sensible rather than survivable' level staff. (These exhibition stands really aren't designed to be manned by people with fatigue-inducing disabilities!)
Today I sent my stand posters off for printing.
And (thanks to a friend for the idea) I've sent a brochure of keyring cards and stickers off for printing too - so people can quickly and easily browse through the entire ranges without having a super-cluttered stall.
And I've planned where everything might go (subject to change of course.) (I rather like maps and floor plans. Can you tell?)

I've decided to take almost my full range of stock, but only put samples out and keep the stock hidden so my table doesn't turn into a huge overwhelming mess. Instead a nice, clear table space with interesting things on, and helpful staff will fetch the products for the customers.....at least that is the theory.

How it all works out in practice remains to be seen.

And having sounded all organised, I have yet to sort stock for taking, print price tags and price lists, pack all the exhibition randoms that are always needed. And scissors. And do all the other stuff I haven't thought of yet.

I am really looking forward to seeing how it all turns out!

But slightly less looking forward to seeing what this cold decides to do.