Trade Show Tips from a Lemonade Stand Magnate

Before we leave our rainbow-colored trade show memories, we would like to share a bit of the preparation and marketing we created for both SURTEX in New York and the Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. I am a marketer from way back … like the tender age of 10. Along with many a lemonade stand, I also held magic shows to sold-out audiences–our garage held at least 20 neighbors. And, even then, a good magician knew the importance of getting the message out ahead of time. Not only did I create compelling hand-made flyers, but also hired my younger siblings to do a little door-to-door pre-selling. Of course, I promised that they would be compensated from the profits earned from ticket sales, which were sure to be big, big, big!

So, here we are in a slightly different arena, and yet, flyers still need to be made and the word still needs to be spread. However, these days, I do actually pay my helpers for their work.

As you have seen in previous posts, we decided to show our collections this year with a Color Wheel-Rainbow-PaintSwatch theme. After 25 years of making art, we had plenty of critters and patterns to fill the color-spectrum display. Then, we had fun creating all of our marketing pieces to reflect our theme and draw licensees to our booth. Before marketing materials were designed, we started with a booth plan that looked something like this, and thankfully, our plan measurements were correct.

We added a colorful painter’s ladder with paint cans full of product. Paint sticks, too. We ordered flowers arranged in rainbow order. We even decided to wear painters’ aprons in the booth … bordering on nerdiness I know, but sometimes you just have to go all the way. (We did not make Jim wear one of our thematic aprons … but only because he was too big.)

We assembled show snacks that sported our particular rainbow colors (white chocolate M&Ms, which are excellent, but perhaps a little dangerous to have in a booth all day). We added package headers to each bag of M&Ms with our matching characters and logos.

We served our tasty show snacks from a paint pan dripping with rainbow paint. (That might have been a little over-the-top, but it is possible that we had started to develop a mild case of ORD (obsessive rainbow disorder).

Next to our show snacks were the take-away cards, for remembering our booth and our work. This year we created spinning mini-portfolios suggestive of paint-swatch fan decks. However, the swatches in our fan decks were not color choices, but rather character choices. “Hm, I can’t decide honey, should we try blue striped zebra or turquoise ostrich mama?”

We continued the “Color Me Adorable” concept in pre-show mail-outs, email send-outs, trade show magazines, online sites, and post-show emails. Interestingly, we can definitively report that we received visitors who were responding from each of our different marketing methods.

After reading the many post-trade-show discussions on Facebook and LinkedIn, and the questions from new artists as to which marketing solutions work best, our recommendation would be: Try them all! Then, ask visitors how they found you. You will learn which marketing efforts work best for your art styles and product categories. And, we do recommend that if you decide to invest in a trade show, you must be prepared to invest in some kind of marketing to encourage new clients to visit your booth. You probably don’t need to rainbow-paint your card holder, but you do need to send out an invitation to your party. So, those are a few trade show tips from Cathy Heck, Illustrator … and before that, Chief Marketing Director of Cathy’s Amazing Neighborhood Magic Shows and Refreshing Lemonade Stands.

We wish you much success and profits that are big, big, big!

1 Comment

  1. Petie July 9, 2012

    You guys are amazing!! Best booth at Surtex…I’m sure of it!

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