When you decide to visit the lingerie lovers’ palace that is Curve for the first time, there’s very little that you can do wrong. A shared passion for pretty underthings brings out the best in everyone!However, you can take steps to ensure that when you get home from the ball, your giant pile of look books, business cards and notes has everything you need to report back to your readers.
I’ve come up with these tips over six visits to New York Curve. Be sure to check the comments for advice from other bloggers who have attended trade shows and have a different strategy.
Get Organized Ahead of Time
1. Make a list of brands that you’re sure you want to visit. You may also want to ask your readers who they’d like you to see and what questions they’d like you to ask. (I don’t have enough patience to research every brand listed on the Curve exhibitor list ahead of time.)
2. Make sure you have the following:
- notebook and pens;
- fully charged camera;
- chargers and/or backup batteries for phone and camera;
- business cards;
- a bag that helps you organize all of the above and that’s big enough to hold one of the 11″ X 15″ look books that luxury European brands like to hand out. Often the show and vendors will give out bags, but it’s a good idea to bring your own just in case;
- simple snacks to give you an energy boost when you need one (usually there are water fountains around);
- if you’re flying, make sure to leave enough room in your suitcase to carry all the catalogs home with you. A lingerie store owner told me how she once mailed all the vendor catalogs home never to see them again. She had scribbled notes in them, so she now had to piece everything together by memory.
Stay Organized While There
1. It’s tempting to rush into the show after you’ve registered, but take some time to get to know the floor map and vendor list. On the map, circle every brand you want to visit, and prioritize. This way, if you discover that your top priority brand has a super busy booth and no one can talk to you, you have enough time to schedule an appointment for the following day. (This is the only reason I schedule appointments, but other bloggers schedule them ahead of time via the Curve website.)
2. Put your business cards inside the back of your plastic name badge so that you’re not fumbling for them in your purse. When a vendor hands you her business card, put it in the same place. (I place my cards vertically and the vendor cards horizontally).
What to Wear
Don’t worry about this too much! Neat and comfortable is good enough. The vendors care more about impressing their buyers than being impressed by you.
How to Act
1. Buyers are at the top of the Curve hierarchy, so take the time to figure out what their name badges look like (this year buyers had a blue strip at the bottom, and press had a yellow strip). If you are talking to a small designer and a buyer starts looking at her collection, immediately make yourself invisible (or at least offer to). Brands spend a ton of money to be at Curve, and they need it to pay off in orders.
2. If possible, try to show the potential for a return on the brand’s investment of time spent with you, i.e.,
- “My readers are always looking for this feature. They will be so excited to hear about it!”
- “My readers have such-and-such point of view. How can I explain your product to them so that they’re more open to it?”
- “Such-and-such blogger (or buyer) has the perfect audience (or customer) for your brand. Let me introduce you to each other.”
3. Ask permission to take photographs, and whether it’s okay to include faces. After happily snapping dozens of photos at a booth this August, the sales rep told me, “Our models don’t want their faces in the photos. Be sure to crop them out.” If I’d asked at the beginning, I would have composed the photos entirely differently.
4. If a brand rep shares anything with nervous laughter or looks alarmed when you write something down, ask if they want you to keep it confidential. For me, an exchange like this is usually followed by the best conversation ever, and I have a better sense of how I want to portray the brand.
5. Don’t only concentrate on the booths.
- Attend the Eveden bra fit school. You will meet buyers who care about their customers in the same way that you care about your readers. ASK FOR THEIR CARDS. Consider ways to promote each other. Call them for a quote to include in a future post. These women are in the fitting trenches every day. Their perspective on the brands and styles is priceless.
- Have lunch at the busiest time of day and share a table with strangers. Ask how the show is going for them, find something that you might have in common, and ASK FOR THEIR CARDS.
- When you’re exhausted and sitting in a daze on one of the couches somewhere and someone sits next to you, make small talk. You never know where it will lead.
What to Do When It’s Over
Write your posts, send the brand a link, and follow up with everyone you met:
- like their FB pages and follow them on Twitter
- make the connections that you promised
- arrange to see them at the next Curve and do it all over again!