While we regularly exhibit at local trade events, for 2011 we included the Lincolnshire Show; a large county, agricultural show, but with a wide brief of entainment activities and exhibitors. All the previous trade shows , where we had exhibited, were much smaller and indoors and we did no know what to expect, but given there were 700 other exhibitors = potential customers and an anticipated 70,000 visitors over the two days, our hopes for success were high.
Two days preparation, making up some special items for display; brochures and flyers had been delivered some weeks early and our marquee had been booked. Set up day, Tuesday, was hot and sticky and our stand was ready by mid afternoon. Our immediate neighbours had not yet arrived – easy peasy !
Arrived Wednesday 7.00 am to meet our neighbours who had encroched on our space, which required some delicate negotiations. By 9.00 am the wind had started to pick up, 12-15 mph and the rain started. By lunchtime the wind was touching 18mph, the marquee was rattling ; the flag poles were starting to strain, but visitors kept coming and the box of brochures was starting to empty, and our diary of contacts was filling. There was some intrest in our Lanterns
Day two : Less wind but more rain, heavy downpours, which meant fewer visitors to the show, and less traffic past our stand. Rose and I took in turn to make sure all the other exhibitors were handed a brochure, were made aware of our names, had business cards pushed into the hands and we took their telephone numbers. Most visitors were interested in a range of Flag Banners. While there many flags on display, few realised that the manufacuturer of some of them was here, at the Show.
Several of our customers were also exhbiting at the show, few of whom we had never met in person, so there was opportunity to put faces to names. We had also agreed sponsorship arrangement with Lincolnshire Focus, a county social magazine and Lincolnshire County Council.
Packed up by 7.00 pm and home: Overslept next day, to arrive two hours late for work ! The next two weeks were spent on follow up, renewing the contacts we had made, more brochures despatched and more phone calls to make.
It was however not until November, that our hard work at the show started to pay dividend, with three contacts, phoning to discuss their plans for 2012. Two were local, and a short drive away and a visit arranged. The other was happer to negotiate over phone and e-mail. All ordered in December for delivery February.
So, despite the gloom, the rain and wind, the wet clothes, cold meals and at the lack of anything positive immediately coming out of the show – our patience prevailed.