irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry.
HIA: A Marketing/Design Perspective
Standing out in a crowd becomes a real
by Debba Haupert, BoBella Marketing & Design LLCtt (February,
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org,
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