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Monday, May 11, 2009

National Stationery Show - Hot topics: Press Kits, WiFi, and Taking Payments

 via @CarriePony
Who's doing press kits for #NSS? How many are you bringing?

   via @emmajCARDS
QUESTION #nss- Is there WiFi in Javits? Can we bring laptops?

via Denise
What is your opinion on payment....since we are small....we do not have the ability to do credit buyers....write checks there....what is the protocol on that....or do they make an order....then send payment? 

My Replies~

Press Kits
I suggest bringing as many as you can create, if that is 5 or 25! Keep a few in your booth because inevitably you will find an opportunity to hand them out. In the past I have have brought 15 or so (the most I had time to put together) and they were always gone when I returned to the Press Room to see if any were left behind. Drop them off early, because everyone always has a list of last minute to-dos in the morning. I cannot claim to be an expert on Press Kits, but I have dug up a few links that are helpful from the always resourceful Design*Sponge Blog:

Internet Access
The Javitz Center does have Wi-Fi Internet access.. for a price. I found it slow. My hotel wasn't much better. Between the two I wished I had an Internet enabled phone and went immediately out and bought one when I got home.  Now I couldn't live without it, my phone is my second computer, my camera, my everything. {sigh}

Buyers will expect to write the order at the show only. Payments are handled later. The buyer will either provide you a credit card number (to be run at the time of shipment) or request NET 30 terms to be paid by check. When providing terms, an Invoice should be included in the package at the time of shipment-with the terms starting from ship date. Another option is COD (check on delivery), and it is worth noting that there are extra fees associated with COD--so make sure you include that in the shipping charge on the Invoice. If you are running a "Free Shipping show special", my policy is that extra fees, rushed shipping, international shipping do not qualify.

I cannot urge everyone enough, get setup to take credit cards. It is much easier than you expect and the fees are worth it to protect you and ensure payment. Cashflow in a small business is fragile, and to accept a credit card for an order means that you charge the card BEFORE you ship the product. If the credit card doesn't go through, you don't ship the product. Then you never have to worry about trying to get payment later--because you already have it. There are many credit card merchant services out there, and as long as you can enter and run the credit card without the other party having to confirm anything (sorry, no PayPal), you are good to go. I'm sure others can suggest some services they use. I use and accept only Visa and Mastercard (not AMEX). 

Of course the devil is in the details, and in this economy it is not uncommon to have at least one instance where the credit card will not go through and the store does not respond to you... kind of a "back door" way of canceling orders. So my reps always tell me to fill immediate orders as soon as possible after a show--first to charge gets the order. Sounds terrible I know... but it is a lot better than sending product with terms and never getting paid and having to spend countless hours being frustrated and making unpleasant phone calls. Don't be surprised to get orders that are months out from the ship date. Do not ship these orders early or charge their cards more than a few days prior to their requested ship date.

Got a question or a great suggestion? Contribute in the comments below or chat me up on Twitter! 

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