Greeting cards are big business here in the United Kingdom and represent a massive 1.6 billion pounds in retail sales every year. Its hardly surprising that so many new card publishers emerge each year to try and make their fortune in the world of greeting cards.
Greeting card trade shows are an obvious starting point for new card publishers and there are plenty of organisers willing to take your cash in exchange for what the newbie believes will be instant success and riches beyond their wildest dreams. Well have they got a surprise awaiting them, there is simply no fast track to success in this vastly competitive industry. There are two key elements to success and they are simple; have good unique greeting cards and excellent market penetration. Easy!
So how do we get good market penetration? Well there are a number of obvious routes in to the world of greeting cards and most new publishers will certainly try appointing independent sales agents thinking that this will give them instant exposure. Well they are certainly in for another shock and if they havent tied down a good agreement they are in for a lot of stress and heart ache dealing with the legal side of dismissing the greeting card sales man. So that brings us back to trade fairs and how important they are to new greeting card publishers.
The trade show season is well under way and many greeting card publishers will be asking if it is money well spent exhibiting at the various shows around the country and indeed further afield.
International Spring Fair
The International Spring Fair in Birmingham is held every February and covers every aspect of the gift ware industry including greeting cards. The show encompasses all of the 20 halls at the National Exhibition Centre and attracts visitors from all over the world. There is no doubt that this is a popular trade show but dont get blinkered, the massive attendance figures are not all going to have an interest in greeting cards and only a small percentage will actually visit the dedicated greeting cards hall. That isnt to say that the show isnt a good platform for the new greeting card publisher but more as a heads up not to put all your eggs in one basket, there are other shows that should definitely be on the list of any ambitious greeting card publisher.
Harrogate Gift Fair
There are several gift fairs held in Harrogate but the one most suited to greeting card publishers is The Home and gift show which is held every year in July. The show has broad appeal and attracts many greeting card buyers particularly from the northern region. The show does not have the same kind of feel as those held in large exhibition centres and new publishers will have to go through the pain of secondary locations until they move up the ladder. This show would be further down my wish list if budgets are limited.
Torquay Gift Fair
Torquay gift fair is a much smaller event which takes place in January and is housed in the Riviera centre and a selection of Marques. It is however a good place to get your feet and work out the pros and cons of exhibiting. This show tends to attract more regional stores and the bigger buyers tend to stay away from this one, unless of course they are on a bit of a jolly! I would visit the show for recognisance before spending hard earnt cash to see if it will suit your greeting cards.
There are two Top Drawer shows held in London each year, the spring show is held at Olympia in January and the autumn show is held at Earls Court in September. Both shows are relatively small but do attract a good mix of retailers and as most of the big store buyers are located in or around London then it makes for a great location. The shows are both very vibrant and not oversubscribed by greeting card publishers. This is certainly worth a good look particularly if you are looking to tap into the London greeting card market.
PG Live is the only dedicated show for the greeting card industry and is held every year in May at the Design Centre in Islington. This show has grown from strength to strength and is widely supported by greeting card publishers of all sizes. The show is organised by Warren Lomax of Progressive Greetings magazine and places the emphasis of the show on networking. The show is only on for two days and boasts a massive after show party where retailers and publishers can share stories and build relationships. This show would be right at the top of my list for new greeting card publishers and will give them good access to the key buyers. The only down side is the sheer number of publishers under one roof and this means you will have your work cut out trying to ensure that you stand out from the opposition.
New York Stationary Show
If you are looking to expand your business across the pond then there is no better place to start than the National Stationary Show held at the Jacob Javits Centre in New York each May. Not only is the weather usually beautiful in new York at this time of year but the NYSS as its known is widely supported by the greeting card industry in the United States of America. Do be careful though and make sure that your product is suited to the greeting card market in America. Dont just assume that because they sell a huge number of greeting cards every year that yours will automatically fit their market. It would be money well spent visiting the USA to see for yourself what sells and what doesnt. Dont be afraid to ask local retailers about your product to see if there is a market before investing time and money in an overseas show.
There is certainly no shortage of opportunities for greeting card publishers and as they say you have to be in it to win it! However, dont be under the illusion that attending a trade show is going to be the holy grail because unless you are incredibly lucky then it will be a slow road to eventual success. You will need to be very patient and work every opportunity and that along with good product and lots of hard work will pay dividends in the long run. Greeting cards are a wonderful way of making a living if you get the building blocks in the right place and order. Good luck and remember greeting cards will always be in demand.
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Greeting cards are big business here in the United Kingdom and represent a massive 1.6 billion pounds in retail sales every year. Its hardly surprising that so many new card publishers emerge each year to try and make their fortune in the world of greeting cards. More >>