There was never an instance that a country benefited from prolonged warfare, wrote Sun Tzu in his seminal work, the Art of War.
A trade show is a war! The BaselWorld show lasted for 8 days. It may not be Afghanistan, but after 8 days, the lights in the eyes of all the exhibitors are extinguished.
We sent a staff of five to represent us at the show. It was a bit like the Royal Air Force fighting a guerilla war. Yossi, our CEO, struggled most of the time with on-site technical problems. Our e-Commerce team, headed by Itzik, who constantly work towards eliminating the hassle of trade shows for both our buyers and sellers. Benji, our Content Manager, who creates articles and press material. Amir, our internet salesman, who can effortlessly and simultaneously remotely serve four customers on four different continents, and last but not least, Papa (Leibish), a jovial elderly gentleman and team mascot.
The Baselworld Team
I believe that the crux of trade shows has hardly changed in a century - buyers and sellers traveled to Leipzig or another trade fare loaded with money and returned with wagon loads or ship loads of merchandise - spices, silk, livestock, and more. They then distributed the goods at home to the local traders or consumers.
With modern technology though, the manner of doing business has definitely changed. The trade show is a bricks and mortar representation of our website (www.leibish.com), on which our stock is listed in a manner that enables our customers to learn everything they need to know about the items they consider purchasing and then some.
I had a funny encounter at the show that illustrates the power of our online sales path. A client said to me in the booth "I'll go back to the hotel room and select the items I want from your website, then I'll come back." My trader instinct was instantly roused, "Don't go! I can show you everything right here." "Na, that’s too much hassle. I do it much faster from my room online."
Our customers love the ease and high quality service they receive on our eCommerce site, as proved by our 101st positive testimonial on our iVouch page:
LEIBISH's 101st iVouch
Ditto Facebook; where we just reached 5000 likes!
Perhaps at BaselWorld we were simply out of our element. We sold a lot of stock, but it was not fun. After all, we are the best of breed virtual fancy color diamond jewelry brand and, as an army marches on its stomach, it is imperative that my troops were well fed during this war. To this end, our initial foray at BaselWorld was not encouraging.Though, we obviously kept in great spirits.
Our CEO, Yossi together with Amir and Benji
Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt – continues Sun Tzu.
Our very first impenetrable plan in Basel following fixing our booth ended in a great disappointment. The customary fresh Swiss Spargel (asparagus) was removed from the menu of the kosher restaurant. And that was the only appealing item in the restaurant. How can we run a war under these conditions? In my eyes, this was unforgivable and was first warning sign that something is fundamentally wrong at the Basel Show.
Leibish and his team setting up the booth and sitting down to business at the BASELWORLD 2012 show
To add insult to injury, after we paid up front over a hundred thousand dollars for the booth, shipping, and insurance, we could not even get a reasonable functioning Internet connection. Our brand lives on the www - it is an indispensible part of our business. We felt like fish out of water.
Yossi taking care of things in our booth before opening day
The funniest and most ironic encounter took place just as the curtain opened on the first day, when I received a phone call from the show organizer – do we have a deal for you for next year’s show! “What’s the rush?” I asked. “Our sages teach us Rushing is Satanic. Oh, fine. Never mind, send it over,” I said. “No, you have to come personally and pick it up at the organizers office as it is valid only for 24 hours,” he replied.
I had this uneasy feeling in my stomach like seeing the head of the dead horse in my bed from the Godfather - they are making me an offer I can't refuse.
“What did you say?’” I uttered in my best German, “I have to come to fetch your ultimatum? Send it over or get lost.” And I hung up the phone. Soon after, they delivered the offer with a messenger. I started asking my colleagues what they did. I could not believe they all accepted the offer. I was feeling like the Mafia has come to collect their protection money.
The cost of the booth in Hong Kong was about 10% of the Basel booth, and the caliber of visitors was 1000 times higher. In Hong Kong we did not have a minute rest. Hungry and driven Chinese jewelers and privates occupied our booth uninterrupted.
Our Booth at the Baselworld 2012 Show
BaselWorld is a dying event and the arrogance of the organizer will speed up its demise.
The vitality and vigor of the LEIBISH brand does not depend on any trade show. Our showcases are open all year around. Our customers can see most of our goods immediately and purchase them directly within seconds after they are listed. Most of our clients don't even know where Basel is. They wouldn't consider flying around the world to buy a canary diamond engagement ring or to admire an exceptional Argyle Pink diamond. They search Google, check prices and do their research, then they study our recently sold item page. We sometimes sell items so fast, I don’t even get the chance to see them.
Still, we accepted the BaselWOrld organizer’s offer. God knows why…
My personal luck was that just before I had to return home for the circumcision of my grandson, one of our favorite clients with who we have worked for 30 years fell in love with our multicolor bracelet. He himself makes exceptional jewelry, but decided to buy a present for his wife from our Chavi Itzhakov design. It was my favorite item and he realized that it was important to me that he buys our jewelry as his personal present.
The beautiful multicolor bracelet purchased by a client and a friend
“Leibish, I don’t buy it for the company, I buy it for myself personally.”
He put his arm around my shoulder, “How long have we known each other, about 30 years?” he smiled. “Don’t let me walk away without this piece of jewelry in my hand”. Then, he made an offer I could not refuse.
That was Basel - 2012.