What a fantastic couple of days I had @pglivelondon recently. All the sweat, inspiration, working weekends, worries, wobbles, and doubts alone in the studio boil down to these moments connecting with new customers who become friends and an astounding group of creative people who support, share and spontaneously hug when needed 😍
Even driving through London to the Business Design Centre in Islington where the show is held over two days every June did not dampen my spirits. I arrived early to set up on the Sunday and Monday, ready for the opening on Tuesday. All the boxes packed in the back of the car somehow magically turn into a display of much of the work I have done over the past few years.
I have visited other trade shows, but Max Publishing who created Progressive Greetings Live, now 15 years old, really work hard to provide an environment to put everyone at ease, keep us hydrated with tea on tap, fed with free lunch and watered with an evening drinks party, so that all we have to do is meet and chat to retailers who arrived smiling in their droves this year. The sunny weather helped too. There was a real buzz in the air and a cheer when the show was declared "Open!" over the tannoy.
My stand is in a lovely part of the hall along with small and medium sized publishers who are mostly creators themselves, so there is a sense of understanding what it takes to get there.
One of the poignant parts of attending this particular show for me is that my dad was the Head of Security at the BDC for many years and I used to visit him there at work. He died before I exhibited at my first show there, but I saw a few familiar faces in the loading bay, and I can still envisage him striding along the mezzanine with his clipboard.
Two days fly by in a blur with talk of board weight, cellophane wrap and lots of laughing. The break down happens in double quick time once the last visitors leave. This year, I had my brother and sister in law with me to help so we headed to The Duke for a drink before everything goes back in the car to drive home.
Such a lot of work goes into attending a trade show, and they aren't cheap. (I will write about the details in another post) Yet even with all the other ways of reaching customers, it still feels like the most direct way to find customers. There is nothing like being able to hold a card in your hand.
I miss my trade show friends when I'm back in my studio alone, but I will be back next year.