Quality vs. quantity breeds excitement in Dallas – Business of Wearables – Brief Article
Nowell C. Wisch
Well, it’s time for my annual Dallas Show rant and rave. For the 18th year, I’ve been listening to a debate over the attendance and the quality of people at the Dallas show.
The same negative suppliers and distributors are mouthing the same negative opinions. Let me state for the record: Dallas was a great show! Why? Because most of the distributors and suppliers who came to “work the show” got excited after the depressing events of last year. The show’s theme should have been “Quality versus Quantity.”
In today’s business climate, we cannot focus on quantity because there is less quantity to go around. Simple numbers mean nothing. Regardless of the quantity of attendees through the door, the only rational measure of a trade show is how many quality interactions you can have during exhibit hours. What good is a show if you cannot create or reinforce a relationship between you and your customer or supplier? What good is a 20-percent increase in gross sales if you have a 20-percent decrease in bottom line profit? It is time to redefine what makes certain results a winner and others a loser.
Everyone who came to Dallas to “work the show” left a winner. We suppliers who used the lower attendance count to have quality conversations with the distributors who did show up, left with a very positive impression. Distributors who came to speak with new suppliers or reinforce relationships with existing suppliers also had very positive comments.
Properly approached, no show is ever a waste of time. Yes, the crowd count was definitely down this year. No matter what anyone says, there were fewer distributors on the show floor than in years past. Perhaps other shows picked off some people who might have come to Dallas. Perhaps September 11th had something to do with it. Perhaps people just don’t want to travel as much as they used to.
Whatever the reason, the show was in no way diminished by having fewer people on the floor. Instead, it was enhanced. The booths seemed better than before. Clothing companies “put on the dog” and wowed the masses! No matter what national company you saw, their presentation was better than last year and, in most cases, ranged from “Very Spectacular” to “Extraordinary.” I was back in “Clothing Central” with companies like Trimark Sportswear Group, VF Brand Solutions and Alpha Shirt Company. These companies found themselves spending much more time with distributors who wanted to get to know people and product better than they might have in a more crowded environment.
One clothing rep met five new customers from her home territory on the second day. She booked five new sales meetings with 16 sales people who are eager to learn the newest, greatest and best looking twills, piques and jerseys on the market. At 5 o’clock, she crowed, in her thick Southern accent, “Everyone’s a winna today!”
I had so many great meetings with distributors who took 10, 15 and even 20 minutes with me that I cannot count them all. Yes, it slowed up for days two and three, but the traffic was steady and the day went quickly because I got to tell my story to people who were willing to listen.
On Tuesday, in the midst of one reverie, a resplendent group from Rush Advertising rounded the corner and invaded my booth with not only color coordinated fashions but color coordinated pull carts as well! Ken Rush, the owner, led the charge and what a charge it provided us! I forced them to sit still for a photo so I could document the single most coordinated effort of sartorial excellence than I had ever witnessed in Dallas. They “Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk!” You could not help but be impressed with this group. What inspired me most, however, was the sense of excitement for wearables that they brought with them. Rush comes from a long family history in the promotional products business. In a local business journal, the accompanying photo shows, Ken, his father Paul, and sons Jeff and Mike all wearing matching imprinted polo shirts. Their corporate philosophy is best defined by Mike Rush when he says, “The bulk of our business is apparel. Corporate casual is the way to go now.” Dad Ken said, “That’s th e biggie. Forget the suit and tie.”
While distributors in big cities are decrying a return to “Corporate Formal,” Rush is selling more and more wearables every day. They are still riding a wave best driven by corporate fashion. As Mike says, “People still like to see their company name on a shirt, hat or jacket.”
Their attitude inspired me to do a better job this year and I got a great start at the greatest show on promotional earth, the Dallas Show. I am energized and motivated and happy to be a part of the best business in business, promotional products. I hope that you are excited, too. Let’s have a great year!
Nowell C. Wisch, CAS, is a more than 20-year veteran of the promotional products industry, and now National Sales Manager for Trade Net Publishing. He is also, since the beginning, Editor-at-Large of this magazine.
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