it's important-- it's tough to do well at the show and rely solely on buyers walking past your booth and noticing you. there are just too many booths and aisles in the show to get consistent traffic to your little piece of square footage. besides, even if buyers did all walk through every single aisle (the vast majority don't) -- there are so many factors that could dissuade them from ever stepping into your booth: i.e. they just happen to be talking on a cell phone as they are walking by your booth, they spot someone they recognize just as they walk past your space, they look at the booth opposite of you for a brief moment as they pass (and it takes only seconds to walk past), the list of reasons go on and on.
so to get people to remember us, we did a few things:
1. researched stores that we thought would be interested in our product
there are lists out there that you can buy, but they aren't targeted towards your demographic. we knew our stuff would not do very well in more conservative markets, so we sought out stores that carried products with a little bite, humor and contemporary art.
2. sent out some sort of mailer
to the stores that you researched in (1), of course. make sure you do this a month ahead (or more) of the stationery show, and include your booth number prominently! we showed off our humor and graphic sense in our mailers (postcards are nice because they are light and the buyers will not hesitate to bring it along to the show -- because they were so light), and would serve as a reminder to them to come and visit during the show.
3. submit to blogs
it's free publicity, and it works... find blogs that target your demographic, and send some samples or images showing off your stuff. the traffic to your site works wonders. don't be discouraged if you don't hear back from some bloggers, or don't get a post -- they are busy people and get tons of submissions a day! just keep pluggin away, but don't be annoying ;)
4. built word of mouth
this is sort of vague, but anyway you can, this is your best form of publicity-- because it's genuine. do invitations for your friends' or coworkers' weddings, for their parties, showers, etc. let them spread the word naturally to their friends, and you'll start seeing the rewards. go to local craft fairs and donate your stationery to charitable causes (so you can feel good about the plug it gives you as well) to also build up some good word of mouth.
next up for you out of towners-- the dreaded travel prep...