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Creative Leisure News
2677 Ashley Ct.
Tremont, IL 61568
Phone: 309-925-5593
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Email: mike@clnonline.com

 

 


Your Business Commentary

Mike's often irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry.

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HIA: A Marketing/Design Perspective

Standing out in a crowd becomes a real challenge.

by Debba Haupert, BoBella Marketing & Design LLCtt (February, 2004)

HIA is basically sensory-overload: creativity steroids. More than 1,100 exhibitors displaying and demonstrating hundreds of thousands of products – all vying for the attention of buyers and industry partners. This overwhelming experience can cause one to glaze over, but it also offers the opportunity to rise to the top for those who take a creative approach.

Obviously, scrapbooking is alive and well. There was no doubt that the aisles in this section were buzzing and the manufacturers I spoke with were pleased with the interest and sales. The New Exhibitors section also generated traffic and a lot of attention. It was exciting to see the array of products and to talk with those manufacturers with a fresh passion for their products and the industry. Overall, traffic throughout the show seemed steady, with many meetings going on throughout the floor.

The only thing that struck me was repetition among products, especially those in paper crafts – lots of papers, stamps, rub-ons, and other common embellishments. This is where design, product development, and marketing really pay off – in distinguishing one manufacturer from the other, one product as a better choice than another – and one store from another.

It comes down to the brand of the exhibitor's company or product line. With the proliferation of stores selling scrapbook supplies, the stand-out-from-the-crowd problem applies to retailers, too. It might be based on your customers and their interests, level of awareness, and the type classes that stores offer. Each business has to define its brand, offering, and style to be distinctive. Retailers, manufacturers, designers, support service providers – we all have to create a clear image of who we are and what we offer.

For some exhibitors, their unique products, a visually appealing display, and often the opportunity to view a demonstration made their products come to life. In such an attention-competitive setting, the presentation is as important as the product – making some booths consistently full and others not. It’s basically a "judging a book by its cover" premise; many booths seemed to pull you in with their creative display and great products, packaging, and demo’s.

In addition to the exhibitors, the value of an industry trade show is the education in products, techniques, and business skills. Many workshops appeared to be sold out – a positive sign for the level of interest in learning more about techniques and product knowledge to share with consumers.

I attended Jane Pollak’s "Makeover Your Business" – a class initially positioned for designers on how to market themselves. In addition to designers, however, there were quite a few independent retailers in the group. It was a great session and reflective of her excellent book, Soul Proprietor: 101 Lessons from a Lifestyle Entrepreneur. A key point Jane made was to design for the market you want to reach – another reminder for designers, retailers, and manufacturers of the importance of establishing your brand and the need to differentiate your company/products/design.

On a personal note, I would like to thank Michael McCooey and the great team at Plaid for their support of designers with the Plaid Horizon Award. Each year Plaid awards one designer with a grant to use to further their business and career. The criteria are based on their experience in the industry and involvement in the Society of Craft Designers. I was very fortunate to receive the 2004 Horizon Award and am humbled to be chosen. There are hundreds of great designers in SCD who contribute so much to the industry with inspiration, education, and creative support. I’m sure it was difficult to select only one. Thanks again to Mike and the Plaid team for your support and commitment to designers, and for honoring me with this wonderful award.

Debba Haupert’s company, BoBella Marketing and Design LLC, provides marketing, product development, and design services for the hobby and craft industry. Her craft designs have been published in numerous magazines and books, and her book, The New Book of Image Transfer, published by Lark Books, will be released in May. Debba has represented manufacturers on Carol Duvall, QVC, and A.C. Moore videos. She has developed products and kits sold in Michaels and Hobby Lobby. She is a member of HIA and serves on the SCD Board of Directors. Information on Debba Haupert and BoBella Marketing and Design is available at www.bobella.com. Debba can be reached at debba@bobella.com, 513-533-0793.

To read previous Business-Wise columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.

xxx

 

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