Stationery Show and Surtex 2013 – Part 2

5 06 2013

As I mentioned yesterday in my blog, today I will concentrate on the Surtex Trade Show.

So in between meetings with manufacturers at the Stationery Show, on this two-day whirlwind, I wanted to make sure that I got through every isle of Surtex. I was really interested in the comments I overheard and the conversations I had with exhibitors.  That is why I’ve formatted this blog in an ‘overheard at Surtex’ and then ‘my comment’ format.

OVERHEARD AT SURTEX: ‘Wow the competition is stiff.’

MY COMMENTS: Yes it is. Those that pay the price for a booth have a lot of personal and financial incentive to be organized and prepared. I believe the level of professionalism in the art licensing industry has increased exponentially in the last 10 years.

The booths were for the most part gorgeous. I think the artists that used fewer large art pieces really won the prize when it came to design and functionality.  When cruising through the isles, you really don’t want to have to squint to see the art.  You also don’t want your booth to be confusing. I hate when I have to work hard at figuring out if it’s one artist’s work or three (or 10). Keep the art clearly segmented by artist or style. Then use your headers to identify the person or theme.

I always suggest that new artists attend Surtex before deciding to have a booth. It was clear that most newcomers had done their homework, as the booths were fantastic.  Kudos.

OVERHEARD AT SURTEX: ‘Why do they insist on making the show 3 days, when 2 days would be enough?’

MY COMMENTS:  I can see both sides of this. I heard there were very slow times at Surtex on Sunday, as well many exhibitors said they were anticipating a sluggish last day on Tuesday.  Any trade show can be slow at times, but for those ambitious artists and agents who planned ahead, and set up meetings, there is really never enough time.

OVERHEARD AT SURTEX:  ‘Awesome art everywhere!  And so much to choose from.’

MY COMMENTS:  I believe most manufacturers would agree that it’s an impressive group of artists that exhibit at Surtex these days; and I heard this from many manufacturers directly.  With such a large and growing amount of art to choose from, it cannot be an easy job for the manufacturers to decide which artist, and what art choose for each type of product line. But the manufacturers know their business best and, hopefully, what their customers want.  Either way, I found them to be clear about their goals and direct with their desires and criticism.  They were certainly not mincing words, if they didn’t like something.  I appreciated that; it saves us all time and money.

Remember, you are more likely to stop your own success, not your competition.  Ask yourself:

Have you, as an exhibitor or walker of the show,

  • done everything in your power to follow-up quickly and diligently with your leads,
  • provided manufacturers with exactly what they asked for, if not more,
  • prepared presentation materials (designs, mock-ups, etc.) that will make sense to their business and needs, and
  • been enthusiastic and creative in your follow-up?

Also, don’t forget to use your intuition. If you think you are being strung along and asked to do a lot of work for nothing, then say ‘no.’

OVERHEARD AT SURTEX: ‘The show was disorganized.’ 

MY COMMENTS: I don’t know; it didn’t look that way from walking the show.  Do any of you who had booths want to comment?

OVERHEARD AT THE SHOW:  ‘I paid $750 to attend the 3-day conference, but I was not allowed to go on the exhibit floor until the third day, Tuesday.’

MY COMMENTS: This is a problem for the conference attendees, yet I’m sure it was done to help protect the Surtex exhibitors.  I hope that most new artists, by reading, conversations on social media, and taking classes have learned that interrupting exhibitors in a booth to show them a portfolio or ask questions is not appropriate. Unfortunately, a few people with inappropriate behavior continue to ruin it for those artists who just want to spend time on the trade show floor, looking around, learning and preparing for their future.

OVERHEARD AT THE SHOW:  ‘I found the conference sessions interesting, but confusing. The manufacturers who were presenting talked more about flat fees, than licensing.’

MY COMMENTS: I suggest you learn how to calculate when it’s a better deal for YOU to do a flat fee than a royalty, and when a royalty will be more financially rewarding than a flat fee.  Once you understand that, you can make your own decisions.  NOTE: If you want to learn how to calculate the benefits of a deal, check out my ‘Doing More Deals’ class.

OVERHEARD AT SURTEX:  ‘Traffic was down, but the quality of attendees were great.’

MY COMMENTS:  This was good to hear.  Several exhibitors commented about the number of high quality leads they were getting and, overall, artists and agents sounded very positive about the people visiting the booths.

OVERHEARD AT THE SHOW:  ‘My feet hurt.’

MY COMMENTS: Mine too.

(My thanks to Debbie Tomassi for this motivating reminder of what I need to do next….)

DT KickAstersArt



2 responses

12 06 2013
Anne Gibbons

“Remember, you are more likely to stop your own success, not your competition.” This jumped out at me. It’s so true. So important to focus on doing your best creative work, finding the right manufacturers and providing artwork that meets their needs. Enjoyed this piece, and part 1 very much. Lots of useful info and insights. Thank you, J’net!

7 06 2013
Beth Grove

J’net, I really like your unique format for writing about SURTEX. It gives us a variety of opinions out there, not just your own. The last overheard/comment was cute. Good ending 😉


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