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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Vendor Show - Worth It?

Whether the vendor show at the Alabama College Bookstore Association (ACBA) meeting yesterday was worth it or not from a sales standpoint remains to be seen.  What I believe, though, is that it's got to be more valuable to meet people in person and to show interest in their group than to pick up a phone and cold call.  Ok, that's a no-brainer.  Still, it's good to reinforce platitudes with experience from time to time.

Other vendors kept coming over and asking if I'd written any orders.  I didn't expect to take any orders - I didn't even bring order forms!  For me, it was an opportunity to show my stuff, hand out my card, give a little gift (a card wallet), collect cards, and talk to people.  Did all that, and more:
  • One person did give me a custom order (although he didn't pay for it yet)
  • A potential customer gave me an idea for a new product, perfect for the military student body at her school
  • Another person wants to organize her colleagues to buy 12 items for Christmas giving in order to get the wholesale prices.  Fine with me!  I don't care what they do with them.
  • A vendor, who shall remain nameless and blameless, offered to send me her database with college store contact information
  • Another vendor is going to put me in touch with a mid-states conference organizer
  • Made some great contacts at NACS, based in my home town of Oberlin, and heard a very inspirational story
So was it worth it?  Absolutely!  What would I do differently?
  • Work harder on my display, in advance.  Dom rigged up something with coat hangers that was ok considering I asked him to do it the night before he was going out of town.  With more time, though, I'm sure he could have done something better.
  • Maybe bring some order forms?  Doesn't hurt to give people the idea that the stuff is for sale.
  • Bringing the iPad with a pdf of the catalog was a good idea that worked well, but need to get a stand for it.
  • Could have skipped the opening night dinner, especially considering that I had to drive home that night to take care of the chickens and be back the next morning by 8.  Was going to blow off breakfast but the cheap side of me vetoed that idea as I'd already paid for it.  Good thing, too, because I had the opportunity to introduce myself to the entire group at once and talk a bit about my company and products.  Would have appreciated a little advance notice on that, but it was fine.
Otherwise, I think I did all right.  Looking forward to the Georgia equivalent (GACS) next week.

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