There has been a bit of discourse lately in some of the groups about which trade show is better than the other, and I would have to weigh in thus: any show will be good if you have something fresh and new to display, and any show will be disappointing if you look pretty much the same as all the other people on the show floor.
There is a good little article by John Mariotti on the concept of innovation and stepping outside the box on the Amex Open Forum; you can read it here. New ideas require new ways of looking at the market, not an easy thing to do because we are not built that way, but necessary to make your mark. One of my favorite quotes from a manufacturer was said to us at a Surtex show a few years back – we were discussing what they had been seeing out there on the show floor, and the response was along the lines of “nothing really exciting”…unfortunately often the case…and then she said “I am so tired of artists asking me what I am looking for, because I don’t know what I am looking for. I want them to show me what’s next.”
Think about it. If a licensor wants a snowman, do they really need to go through the time and expense of going to a show to find one? Of course not – ask a few dozen artists and they can have all the snowmen in China (literally). Shows are about showcasing, pun intended, the newest ideas and most innovative art that you can create. Just doing another set of floral tabletop mock-ups or Christmas gift bags isn’t going to stop them in the aisles – instead give ‘em something new and exciting (you know, something to make the other artists think “I wish I had thought of that”). We occasionally hold back some of our best new ideas so we can debut them at an upcoming show, ensuring that we have fresh new art for the floor – because the first question is always “what’s new?” and you really do need to have a memorable answer.
Set aside the templates and start doodling. I’ll see you in Atlanta!