Surtex was a good show this year, and you likely have heard that by now because it seems to be trumpeted from every platform in the industry. I do not recall seeing this kind of buzz continue this long AFTER a show, and while it was a good one I am not sure that it was in the record setting category. But what the heck – we’ll take it. There has been some interesting back and forth on a couple of forums between newer exhibitors who are excited about the show results and some veterans who are suggesting that the real measure of the show won’t be apparent for months. As far as I’m concerned they are BOTH right, inasmuch as there is a right or wrong to it.
It’s becoming generally accepted that it takes 2 or 3 exhibit appearances at Surtex before you can accurately judge your results. I would agree, and also suggest that a vital part of this multi-year “seeding of the market” is the improvement and evolution of both the art and the “art of presenting” that occurs over those years. Art licensing, and particularly exhibiting, is a biz that is best learned experientially – there are skills and an awareness that come from experience and it is difficult to shortcut that. The artists who do well in this business are the ones who understand the need to take the long view and keep showing up with something new – every year, every show – and even if the work doesn’t fly it will continue to build their connection with the customer. Ronnie first exhibited at the Licensing Show back in the mid-90’s (sharing with Cathy Heck), and we first exhibited at Surtex under the Two Town moniker in 2001. When we look back at pictures of those earlier booths we are not horrified because we did the best with what we knew back then, still managed to do some good business and built upon what we learned from every show.
Licensing Show in 2000
Surtex in 2001
Whenever you build a business (which you are) one of the primary considerations has to be how you are going to acquire customers. This is paramount – no customers, no business. There are any number of theories and methods to accomplish it but basically all revolve around proceeding through the necessary steps: awareness, interest, deliberation of action, purchase, retention. This is a process, not an event, and it goes on for as long as you are in business. No one is exempt from the continuing need to build and nurture these relationships, and believing that you will be able to bypass it just by putting up a booth at a trade show is setting yourself for a disappointment. These shows are a great tool to concentrate a lot of customers in one place for a short time, they are fast paced and exciting but be aware that the excitement (on all sides) will cool rapidly in the weeks that follow. Stay with it, let the process work and just keep building.