In less than three years, *Noted has gone from being an idea for a trade show that focused on greeting cards, filling the gap left by the National Stationery Show, to being THE gathering point for all members of the greeting card community, including makers, retailers, sales reps, and suppliers.
Despite the fact that COVID forced the cancellation of *Noted 2020 in San Francisco, shelving months of work by dozens of volunteers, the power of *Noted has only grown. People outside our industry, and in the trade show world, wonder how that has happened. The reason is actually quite straightforward: *Noted is not just a trade show; rather, it is a community event, organized by and for members or our community. As such, *Noted is a constantly evolving event, as it goes where the volunteer leaders from the community take it.
While I would certainly prefer an in-person event this year, COVID is again preventing that from happening. But I am nonetheless excited about *Noted 2021, because, unlike last year, when the truncated *Noted event was hastily pulled together on very short notice, we are planning this year’s virtual *Noted with intent, enabling us to leverage activities that can actually be more easily accomplished online.
Most importantly, that includes participation. The plan for live *Noted is to move the event around the country on a three-year schedule, enabling most retailers to attend the event every three years without traveling more then 500 miles. The barrier for entry into Virtual *Noted for retailers and sales reps is pretty much zero. We’ll make it easy and appealing for them to join us – but the key for us makers is to provide reasons for them to attend, and to pro-actively extend invitations to our buyers.
First and foremost, that means every GCA maker member should participate, as the more makers that are part of *Noted, the more interesting it is for retailers to attend. The event platform, and the associated GCA Marketplace buying platform, make it simple and attractive to conduct business.
Second, the content of *Noted will be of interest to retailers, sales reps, and makers alike. First and foremost, the Pitch Program will return, in numbers. Many makers will have the opportunity to participate in a Pitch Program as we will have themed pitches based on makers and content—new makers, makers of Color, LGBTQ cards—as well as for selected classes of retailers, such as for international distributors and grocery stores. The format has proven so successful that we are even looking at expanding Pitch Programs for suppliers, artists, and licensing agencies to pitch to makers. We will also haven seminars on trends, merchandising, sustainability, and other issues of critical importance to both makers and retailers.
Finally, as mentioned above, we know from experience that the best way to drive retailer participation is to be invited by makers. Therefore, we are asking makers to not only invite their retailers to *Noted, but also to share retailer lists with the marketing volunteers reaching out to retailers via every channel possible.
In short, for *Noted to maintain its strong momentum, and to have a successful virtual event this year, on the way to what we hope will be a return to a live expo in 2022, we need participation and support from every member. Exhibit, engage, sponsor, encourage. We all need to do our part. We are stronger together.
See you at *Noted.
George White, GCA President