Right now I am sitting in my booth at a trade show. I won't disclose the location but let's just say it rhymes with Paint Haul. I drove part of the way on Saturday, then completed the trip here on Sunday morning. Once I arrived it took me six back breaking hours to get all my merchandise set up and then off to my hotel. Alone, bored and with no family.
I paid over six hundred dollars for the booth. I spent three hundred on postage and postcards for a mailing to the client list I was provided. I did several emails as well as a full page ad for the show's guide. That was one hundred seventy bucks. Also seventy on gas so far, forty for meals (thank God breakfast is included), twenty for parking and I still have another day.
So, now I have been sitting here for nearly two days. I have barely written any orders or had people in my booth. I should preface this all by saying that I know I have good product. I work with fantastic artists that are highly talented. I sell their collections like crazy when I go directly to stores on the road. My point being, it's not what I sell that is to blame. It's because trade shows suck.
I've had arguments with other reps that road work is counter productive. Let's see. When I am on the road my only expenses are gas, food and sometimes hotels if I am doing overnight work. I have confirmed appointments with buyers who are planning to write orders. I don't have 200 booths surrounding me with competing lines. I have a chance to see the store, get a feel for what it's about. I can develop a better relationship with the owner as I have come to her and made her life easier. We can spend more time together and grow a friendship on top of everything else.
With trade shows I spend an extraordinary amount on booth fees, advertising, employees and display equipment. And then I sit and wait. And wait. And wait. People may stop and act as though they want to browse but there is a strange thing that happens then. I say hello and they leave so fast I see skid marks! And all I did was say hello! I did not say "If you step in my booth you are required to make a large purchase". I simply said hello. It's the fastest way to get rid of someone.
When it's slow it creates a serious aura of negativity. I don't like to wallow in self pity nor do I want to get caught up in the bitch festivals that go on. Yet, when I have people that come in my booth and say they will be back (reference my very first blog entry), come and say they are too busy to write orders and ask if I can come to their store or fake interest and take up a lot of my time, I fall into the toxic trap of complaining. It's inevitable. It sucks. See? I'm in the trap right now.
As of today I am vowing to no longer be the "boy who cried wolf". I always say that I am not going to do these shows anymore and I always do. I am done. Let it be noted on this 22nd day of March in the year of our Lord 2011 that I am done. Done, done, done. See ya at the next show.