How to Get the Most from a Trade Show

One of the things we talk about a lot on this blog and its sister blog,  Threaducate is the benefits of attending an industry trade show,  and what you can learn from your attendance.   For those who have never been to an industry show,   it’s a place where vendors gather to showcase their new equipment and products.  Some shows will allow actual sales of goods on the show floor,  others will not.   A show is a great place to learn, to find new products,  and to price and test new equipment.   If you are able to attend an industry trade show,  it’s well worth the price and the time.

EnMart has been exhibiting at trade shows,  and attending them as well,  for pretty much as long as the company has been existence.  Over that time,  we’ve figured out some things that we recommend attendees do to get the most from their attendance.   Here are our top tips for getting the maximum value from your trade show attendance.

Tip 1:  Have a plan – Most shows will have a website that lists exhibitors with a brief explanation of what that exhibitor sells and will be showcasing that the show.   It’s definitely worth the time to figure out who you want to see at the show and what you want to ask those people.   Make notes.  Plan your route through the show to be sure you see those people you absolutely want to see first.

Tip 2:  Dress in layers –  Some show floors will be warm.  Others will be over airconditioned.   Dressing in layers allows you to remove or add clothing as the temperature dictates.   Comfortable shoes are also a must.   Even if the show is a smaller one,  you’re still going to be walking and standing quite a bit.   Shows are much less fun if your feet start hurting in the first hour.

Tip 3:  Do your homework – A trade show may be one of the only opportunities to actually talk to sales reps or technical support people for the equipment you own or want to buy.   Do your research ahead of time and figure out what questions you want to ask.    The more you know,  the better the questions you’ll ask,  and the more useful information you’ll receive.

Tip 4:  Bring business cards –  Even if you don’t normally have business cards,   it’s worth it to try and print some up if you’re going to a show.  There are two reasons to have cards.   One is to give to reps you talk to in the booths you stop at.  Particularly if you’re asking for literature or more information,  having your contact info readily available is very helpful.   The second reason to have business cards is for networking purposes.  You’ll be meeting other people in the industry, some of whom may potential partners,  so it’s good to be able to exchange contact info.

Join Us at the Sublimation Expo

Most everyone would probably like to attend a trade show,  but it doesn’t always work out that everyone can attend.  Sometimes the dates are wrong.   The location may be too far from where you are to make the trip cost effective or feasible.   The days the show is held on my conflict with your work schedule.   The cost may be more than you’re willing to spend.    There are a lot of reasons why attending a trade show on site may not work out for you,  which is why many companies are now moving to virtual trade shows which can be attended from the comfort of your own home or office simply by logging into the show using your computer.

EnMart is proud to announce that we will be participating in the Sublimation Expo,  held by Sawgrass Technologies, on November 13 – 15.   This is a virtual trade show,  which can be attended from your computer.     It looks and feels like the real thing,  if the real thing existed only in your computer.  There are company booths,  a lobby,  seminars,  demos and representatives from various companies available to speak with you.  The Sublimation Expo occurs in an virtual, interactive environment,  allowing you to attend from the comfort of your workspace using your computer.

Like a trade show held in a brick and mortar building,  the Sublimation Expo features seminars that can help you learn more about your sublimation,  your equipment and the best way to move forward.    If you’ve been looking for information that can help you take your busienss to the next level,  make sure to attend one or more of the available seminars,  and then spend some time visiting the exhibitors at the show.

Attending the show is free, all you have to do is register.    Use the promo code sublimation to get free admission.  If you do attend the show,  please stop by and see EnMart.   We look forward to seeing you all on November 13 – 15.



Sublimation Demonstration

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter,  you’ve probably seen that I’ve been making a bit of a fuss over the 2012 version of our trade show booth.   One of the fun things about doing shows is how our booth has evolved over time,  and how each evolution brings new ways to interact with trade show attendees.   We always try to do something new with the booth every trade show season,  and we also listen to suggestions from the people who visit our booth and try to incorporate those suggestions when we can.

One of the fun things we’re doing this year is bringing a George Knight DC 16 Combo Press to the show.   Before, in the booth, we’ve only been able to demonstrate sublimating flat goods.  This year,  with the addition of the DC 16 and the mug attachment,  we’ll be able to demonstrate sublimating mugs as well.    The mug attachment is actually virtually identical to the Geo. Knight DK3 Mug Press,  except the mug attachments uses the temperature controls from the DC16, instead of having individual controls as the DK3 does.

The press and the mug attachment will also be for sale as a demo model at a reduced price.  A savvy shopper could pick up the press and the mug attachment at a trade show and then add the other attachments for the press later.   Our trade show presses are transported safely and gently used,   so there is very little risk in buying a demo model.

We look forward to seeing everyone at the trade shows in March.  To keep tabs on where we’ll be and when,  you can always check the front page of our website for the latest information.

Why Buying at a Trade Show Makes Sense

As those of you who follow us on Facebook and Twitter already know,  EnMart will be exhibiting at the NNEP Embroidery Marts in Houston and Nashville later this summer.   We’re very excited about these shows,  partially because we’ll be debuting a new booth design and partially because we’re bringing a lot of product to sell and there will be some great savings to be had in our booth.

If you’ve never purchased anything at a trade show before,  you may not know there are several reasons why this type of purchasing makes sense for a lot of businesses.  For one thing,  many companies,  EnMart among them,  may offer discounts or special deals that are available to trade show attendees only.   There are a couple of reasons for this practice.  One is that we want to sell the stuff we bring to the show,  and another is that we want people to visit us when we go to these shows.  Offering discounts or deals is a great way to move merchandise and to get people into our booth to learn more about us.  It’s really a win-win for everyone.

Another reason to buy at a trade show is that you get to see the merchandise first hand.  You can talk to people who actually use the items they’re selling and you can see the machines put through their paces.  Videos and webinars and all the rest are very useful,  but nothing is a substitute for actually being there and watching someone use a piece of equipment.   Trade shows also let you compare products,  so you can find the items that best suit your budget and your needs.

Buying at a trade show also allows you to avoid shipping charges.  EnMart plans to have several of our QuickStartR packages and a few of the Ricoh 7000 printers in our booth in Houston and in Nashville.   We’ll also have paper, Hanes Sublimation Maker software and other products.   Whether you purchase a package or simply buy a few packs of paper,  you’re saving the cost of shipping.  Buy enough product and the savings can really add up.

Finally,  the biggest advantage to buying at a trade show is simply this,  you get to talk to the experts.  Each business and each person will have slightly different needs,  and talking with someone who uses the products they sell will help you find the products that are right for your business. Talking on the phone is useful and talking via e-mail or live chat can be helpful,  but nothing really replaces standing face to face and talking with an expert.

EnMart will be in Houston at Embroidery Mart South and in Nashville at Embroidery Mart East.  We will announce booth numbers as soon as they are available.   I hope everyone who is attending those shows will stop by and see us.

Top 4 Trade Show Questions

Every time we go to a trade show,  our sublimation and ChromaBlast display always gets a lot of interest.   We also get asked a lot of questions.   Of course, every person wants to know different things,  based on their own experiences and circumstances,  but there are some questions that we hear quite regularly.  Since we hear them so often,  I thought it might be useful to list a few of those questions,  and their answers, here on the blog, so those people who may not have made it to a trade show could be informed too.

Question 1:  What’s the difference between ChromaBlast and sublimation? –  There are a lot of ways to answer this question,  but the easiest answer is also the simplest.  To put it simply,  sublimation is a process that works with polyester and poly coated items,  and ChromaBlast is designed to work with cotton.

Question 2:  Can I sublimate/print with ChromaBlast on dark items? –  The short answer is no.  Printing on a dark garment generally requires a white underbase or white ink,  and there is no white sublimation or ChromaBlast ink.  There may be some items,  like our color changing mug that start out dark,  but there is nothing that is consistently a dark color that can be printed with sublimation or ChromaBlast ink.

Question 3: How many prints can I get from a set of ink? – This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many factors which can impact how many prints a set of ink will yield.   The size of the print,  the density of the color,  the settings in your print management program,  the set-up of your printer,  all these things can make a difference in your yield.  There is no hard and fast answer to this question.

Question 4: What’s the best printer? – Again, there is no hard and fast answer to this question.  A lot depends on the needs of the person who is asking.   What is the largest size paper you’ll want to print?  How often will you use the printer?  What’s your budget?  The answers given to questions like these will help determine which printer is best for you.

Obviously,  there are a lot of questions we get asked at every show and, judging from the amount of time people spend in our booth,  a lot of answers that are being given.   If you’re at a trade show where EnMart is exhibiting,  please feel free to stop by and see us.  We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have.   If you can’t visit us at a trade show,  leave a comment on this blog,  or on Facebook page or Twitter feed and we’ll reply as soon as we can.

Sublimation and Trade Shows

You may have noticed that this blog has been mostly silent for the last few weeks.  That’s because we were preparing for the first in a round of trade shows that started mid February and stretches across the entire month of March.    We started off at NNEP Dublin back in mid February, continued on through DAX Kansas City last week,  and will end our trade show run with ISS Atlantic City this week and DAX Minneapolis at the end of the month.

Doing trade shows is a lot of fun,  and one of the things that makes it enjoyable is getting to meet so many of our current and potential customers and to educate them about sublimation.   Some people we meet have never heard of sublimation and don’t even know what it is.   Others have some vague idea,  but need to know more about the process.  A few have done their research and are just looking for the right company from which to buy.    What ever stage of the process you’re in, EnMart can help.

If you come to visit us at an NNEP or DAX show,  we will generally have printers and a heat press in the booth.  We can do an on the spot demonstration for you,  and also show you some of the different printer options that are available.  Our sublimation expert, Tom Chambers, has also created a very helpful booklet that gives a lot of information about the sublimation process, and contains a comparison chart for all the printers available for sublimation.

If you’re considering getting into sublimation and you’re in an area where we will be exhibiting at a trade show,  please do stop by our booth.   We will be happy to spend the time it takes to help you find the system that will suit your needs and your budget.  EnMart also offers show specials at most shows,  and we generally have multiple printers in stock in the booth, so you can make your purchase and take it home with you,  which will give you a discount on the system and save shipping.

To see a list of the trade shows we will be attending,   please visit the EnMart homepage.  There is a widget on the righthand side of the page that lists the trade shows we will be attending.  Generally the list covers the next few months.   You can also find information about where we’ll be by following us on Facebook or Twitter.

What You Can Learn When You Visit Our Booth

You can learn about sublimation from videos,  articles on the Internet,  blogs like this one,  webinars and plain old trial and error, but one of the best ways to learn is via a hands on demonstration.  Seeing and touching the equipment and supplies while speaking with people who are expert in using that equipment and those supplies can be very helpful.  Since EnMart will be exhibiting at ISS Atlanta this week,  I thought this would be an opportune time to discuss what that experience is like when you visit our booth at a trade show.

First of all, depending on the size of the booth, we will have a variety of printers on display and a heat press as well.  Booth size does tend to expand or restrict the number of printers or the size of the heat press we bring,  but we will almost always have at least one printer and one heat press in the booth.  The advantage to this is that you can see transfers printed and pressed in front of you as you stand in the booth.  This allows you to get an accurate and real time picture of how the printer prints and how the transfers press.

Second,  we display a variety of sublimated items in the booth.  There is a truly bewildering array of items that can be sublimated,   and sometimes it is hard to know which ones will work best for your business.  Being able to see and touch the items on display will let you get a sense of what might work for you.  It will also allow you to discover items that you may not have considered offering in your shop in the past.   Generally we get at least one person every show who says “I didn’t know you could sublimate that!” when they first sight a jigsaw puzzle or a bookmark or a tote bag.  Visiting our booth gives you a greater awareness of what can be done with sublimation.

Third,  visiting our booth allows you to talk with our sublimation experts.  Tom Chambers,  who heads up our sublimation program,  and the rest of our sales and booth staff are very knowledgeable about sublimation and can help guide you to the system that will work best for your business.    Everyone who works our booth has at least an intermediate level understanding of the sublimation process and how it applies in a business setting.  We know the questions to ask,  and we also have the answers for the questions you have.   Talking face to face in a trade show setting allows everyone to gather the information necessary for you to feel secure in your purchase and for us to know we’ve sent you home with the equipment and supplies that you need.

As I said at the top of this piece,  there are a lot of ways you can learn about sublimation.  If you’re going to be at ISS Atlanta this weekend,  or if you will be at any of the trade shows where EnMart will be exhibiting in 2011,  I hope you’ll stop by our booth and see what you can learn.

The Value of Attending a Trade Show

EnMart just finished a great weekend in Nashville at the NNEP Embroidery Mart.  It was a fantastic trade show and we were able to talk to a lot of people about sublimation and how it can be used.  The show was really fun and very informative, and it made me realize how valuable attending a trade show can be,  both from an exhibitor standpoint and from an attendee standpoint.   Particularly when you’re considering a garment decoration technique like sublimation,  attending a show and getting to see equipment and demonstrations and ask questions can save you a lot of time and money and anguish.  No one likes to purchase equipment that doesn’t suit their business and won’t be useful.  Attending a trade show can help you avoid those kinds of issues.

Although EnMart generally attends trade shows as a vendor,  I’ve certainly spoken with enough attendees to get a sense of the value that attending a trade show can provide.  I thought I’d remind everyone about that today by listing a few of the ways I believe trade shows provide value.

1. Trade shows let you see equipment and supplies up close and personal – Catalogs and websites are great,  but nothing replaces actually holding a product in your hand and seeing it with your own eyes.

2. Trade shows allow you to talk to vendors one on one – Granted exhibitor booths can be crowded and understaffed,  but almost every exhibitor will have some time where they can speak with you one on one.   If you have concerns or questions or just need guidance,  this one on one time is invaluable.

3. Trade shows help you sort out your requirements – Exhibitors have a vested interest in helping you find the equipment that is right for your business.  They know the questions to ask that will help you determine what you need.  They also know which equipment will best serve that need.

4. Trade shows also often offer classes or seminars – At the Embroidery Marts in Houston and Nashville,  Sawgrass Ink did a seminar about sublimation.   Other exhibitors held classes as well.   The classes give you an opportunity to learn a new technique or add a profit center to your business while learning from industry experts.

5. Everything you learn at a trade show is yours to keep – When you leave a trade show you should know more than when you arrived.  If you take the time to visit vendors and ask some questions,  you can learn a lot for only a minimal expenditure of your time.

My thanks to everyone who saw the value in trade show attendance and stopped by to see us in Nashville last weekend.  We had a great time there,  and we look forward to providing more value for our current and new customers at ISS Atlanta in September.