Archive for October, 2010

Kiddiebase: Our First Baby Show

Kiddiebase - Our first Baby ShowWritten by Antonia from Kiddiebase

Posted 31st October 2010

KiddieBase’s first Baby Show was the Earls Court Baby Show, 2010 – as it was our first show, we learned a lot so decided to jot down some of our do’s, don’ts, lessons learned etc.  Here’s a quick summary:

What we did right:

  • Gave chocolates away – these were a great assistance in the mornings particularly – definitely encouraged people to talk to us more!
  • Had chairs – towards the end of the day in particular a lot of people were very tired, the prospect of a chair to sit on while they registered on the website was a definite draw!
  • Took products to demonstrate – in use where possible, e.g. carseat cover on a carseat.  Although we’re on an online site whose main purpose was to gain registrations and build awareness, having actual product on the stand was essential to engage with the visitors.  Our favourite moment here was when I was showing a visitor the fantastic Who Loves Me? personalised flashcards that are available on KiddieBase, at the same time as the creators and owners of Who Loves Me? stopping by to meet us for the first time!
  • Ran a prize draw – a lot of people were interested in our competition especially given that they could actually see the brilliant prizes on offer.  This also gave us great online promotional opportunity.
  • Baby – KiddieBase K brought her 4 week old baby with her (see photo) and having a ‘real’ baby on the stand was a great draw for the visitors!  I appreciate that this isn’t possible for everyone :)

What we could have got more right:

  • On the first day, we displayed most of the prizes at lower level between our 2 higher laptop tables – this wasn’t so eye-catching to passing visitors.  When we re-arranged the stand and moved the prizes to a higher level on the corner of our stand, we got better traction.
  • We could have done with another helper during the busier times (11-4) – having just 2 of us on the stand most of the time made it hard for 1 of us to take a break especially due to the nature of our stand meaning we needed to ‘supervise’ people registering on the laptops as well as talking to new visitors.
  • On day 1 we had a netbook with us as well as a laptop – this just didn’t prove to be user-friendly enough for registering.  The next day we substituted it for a second laptop which was much better.

Other lessons learned:

  • For a popular show like this, book as far in advance as you can to get a good pitch – because we’re a new business we booked relatively late in the day which meant we didn’t have much choice.  We were therefore quite far from the entrance – although we had some definite positives being opposite a cafe etc, I still would have probably rather been nearer the entrance so traffic didn’t take as long to filter through in the mornings.
  • IT solutions – we rented a laptop and an Internet connection from the recommended supplier and then brought a second laptop ourselves.  Next year I would look in more detail at wireless solutions and providing both laptops ourselves.  The cost of the internet connection and laptop hire was very high and added a lot to our overall budget.
  • Stand sharing – we heard of a couple of companies who shared stands, which can be a great idea.  Next year we could perhaps look for example at sharing a stand with one of our stores.
Would we do it again?  We’re still undecided.  For us, being an online site, it’s hard to yet take a view of our return on investment from the show.  It was definitely good to get our name out there, meet a few new stores and sign lots of users up to the site however we need to balance that against spending a similar amount of money online or at a larger number of smaller shows.  All part of our learning curve!

Tidy Trays: My first baby show

My first baby show by Kerri from Tidy TraysWritten by Kerri Lister from Tidy Trays UK

Posted 29th October 2010

I went to the Parent and Baby Show North back in July with Joanne to help her on the Baby Loves Shopping stand. My main reason for going was to understand how shows work as I was going to have a stand at the Earls Court Baby Show in October. Joanne has done quite a few shows so had a lot of useful information of what has worked and what hasn’t! So this is my list of my learnings:

  • Research the event – who else is going? How much marketing has taken place before you schlep 5 hours to get to an event…..less said the better!
  • You meet some great exhibitors and can network and learn from them too, there was no competition and everyone was very friendly and in the same boat.
  • Take business cards and information for other exhibitors.
  • Make sure you put the right side of the velcro on the posters!
  • If you have to erect a special display stand which require a unique key store it somewhere safe….so when you come to take it down….you know where it is!
  • Tableclothes are a great way to cover a depressing wooden table.
  • Having a riser on the table increases the amount of space you can use to display.
  • Having a prize draw is a fantastic way to draw people into your stand and get a database of names and addresses.
  • Have lots of pens.
  • Have a logistics box containing the essentials – extra velcro, marker pens, masking tape, headache tablets!
  • Wear comfy shoes.
  • Take snacks which don’t make your hands dirty or smell too much – jelly babies worked for us!
  • Brand yourself not just your stand – t-shirts and name badges.
  • Realise that some people just don’t want to buy anything.
  • Have a bin bag for rubbish as bins are not often provided.
  • Have something at ground level to engage small children – we might not like pester power when it happens to us, but it works!
  • Take lots of water – its thirsty work talking to people all day.

Baby Loves Shopping: Ever been to a baby show when no one turned up?

Ever Been to a Baby Show when no one turned upWritten by Joanne Waltham from Baby Loves Shopping

Posted 28th October 2010

In the spring of 2010 a fellow baby business owner told me that they were going to exhibit at the Parent & Baby Show North in Leeds on the 3rd & 4th of July. I looked up the show’s website and was impressed by the following statements:

  • The North’s biggest and best show for parents looking for guidance, expert advice and a great shopping experience.
  • We anticipate 5,000 visitors in our first show by hosting the most diverse and informative baby show in the North.
  • This show will be unique as it will hold hourly seminars for parents, carers, industry professionals and schools.
  • We will be giving away 1,000 day tickets to parents in the local area.

This all sounded good to me so I booked a stand and sent off my deposit cheque and didn’t think much more about it as it was months away.

The first indication I got that maybe all was not well, was at another baby show where an exhibitor told me that she had withdrawn from the Parent & Baby Show North as she had heard that not many stands had been booked. Slightly worried I emailed Barbara Campbell Events and when I received the floor plan my heart sank a little as the statement “The North’s biggest and best show” looked unlikely as there was space for only 53 stands and my stand was one of the largest.

A couple of days before the show I was getting all the paperwork together and working out a route to the venue – Leeds Conference Centre, University of Leeds. The postcode I had did not match the location map that the event organiser had sent me.  I went back to the show’s own website and discovered that the postcode there was an invalid one. I searched the web for references to the show on various “what’s on” websites. On each website the postcode was different.  I then phoned Leeds University Conference and Events Department and a very helpful man emailed me a map with clear instructions on where to enter the University grounds and which internal roads to take to get to the sports centre. I was sorted but would everyone else be?

On the Friday I loaded up the van and picked up Kerri from Tidy Trays, and we set off on the long drive to Leeds. We eventually found the venue and we were indeed in a sports centre and not the conference centre I was expecting. The atmosphere was not great. The number of stands was pitiful for “The biggest show in the North” and I was worried that visitors who paid the £7 ticket price would be cheesed off when they got in.  After setting up I walked around the venue and discovered that people coming to the show would have to walk down two small flights of steps – not ideal for heavily pregnant women and parents with pushchairs.

We got to the venue early on the first day to make the last adjustments to the stand and to welcome Claire from Snugbaby who was helping us.  She told us that she had difficulty finding the venue as there were no signs out. The doors opened at 10:00 and we waited. No one.  By 11am there had been about three couples and things did not improve much during the day. Some exhibitors packed up at lunch time and left.  The event organiser called a meeting at the end of the day and tried to reassure us that she had people out promoting the show for the following day and was making entry free.

I could go into more detail but let’s just say the second day was just as bad and I think that at most there were 250 visitors over the 2 days. We did make some sales and we had plenty of time to really engage with the visitors that did come.

Why was turn out so poor?

I think the biggest problem was poor advertising with incorrect venue details! Secondly there was a large food festival in Leeds that weekend plus it was the Leeds 10k “Run for All” on the Sunday.  The final nail in the coffin – there had been a free baby show in one of the Leeds hotels the weekend before.

What did I learn?

Do more research before booking an event:

  • Has the event organiser run other events before and were they successful?
  • Is the venue suitable? This can be difficult if you are not local but it’s worth trying to find out.
  • Have any other baby shows run in the area? How did they go? Is there a decent time gap between the other baby shows and the one you are considering?
  • Check to see if any other events are running at the same time as the show you are considering.

Chat to other baby show exhibitors and discuss upcoming events. Check out any negative gossip you hear about an event you are planning to do.

So what was good about the event?

  • I am now a bit wiser.
  • I met and have developed a great relationship with the other exhibitors at the show.
  • I decided to start this website – www.ukbabyshows.co.uk. If you think this website will be a useful resource to you please show your support by signing up to our newsletter and leaving feedback for any shows you have attended. Finally we are always looking for articles for this blog – pictures of your stands at a show, your best buys and exhibiting tips and tricks. Please contact info@ukbabyshows.co.uk for details.

The birth of the baby show directory

Written by Joanne Waltham, Editor of UK Baby Shows

20th October 2010

Joanne Waltham, the owner and manager of Baby Loves Shopping, was recently planning her exhibition diary and spent many hours trawling the internet for listings on baby and toddler shows and their dates, times, venues and any reviews made by previous exhibitors and visitors. It was a long, slow process and Joanne found herself lamenting to other baby show exhibitors that life would be so much easier if there was a website that listed all this information in one place… rather like the database she was slowly building. Joanne had barely finished her lament when the light bulb went on and she knew the next few weeks were going to be very busy indeed.

3 months later and UK Baby Shows is now live and helping nursery industry businesses plan their exhibition diaries and find shows that suit their schedule and offer the greatest potential. Joanne also hopes that it will help organisers to better plan their events to avoid date and location clashes, while encouraging high standards by providing the public with the facility to review shows that they have attended. As a testament to its early success, UK Baby Shows is already attracting advertising revenue from a variety of sources.

Joanne has been keen to work closely with all event organisers and other exhibitors to ensure the site offers the best possible resources and here’s what a few of UK Baby Show’s users have said:

Louise Gibbs of Baby Signing Mummy“I think this is an amazing site … the place for exhibitors to go to judge whether a show is worth attending – and great for parents too!”

Claudette O’Brien of Maddiescrafts“I’ll be using your site a lot and have been passing your details on to event organisers and fellow exhibitors already. At last a site just for Baby Fairs, will make my life so much easier!”

Helen of Breastvest: “I think this is a really brilliant idea and after having a look at the new site, I think its spot on.  The feedback system will be invaluable and work perfectly for exhibitors”