Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Business Chat - 7 Pointers for Craft Show Success


  1. Make sure you are in the right show.
    Research the show before you apply! I know this requires work about a year in advance and we aren’t always that organized, however, this single step can save you oodles of wasted time and money. If you have fabulous handmade work with a modern style you don’t want to end up in a buy and sell Victoriana-flavoured event. If you can, walk the show the year before you go. If you can’t, then get the vendor list from the previous year (always on the show website) and check the other vendors online. Try emailing some of the vendors and ask them for their opinion on the show.
  2. Know in advance what success is to you.
    Why are you doing the show? Money? Then name a number, exactly how much money would make you do your happy dance? New subscribers to your mailing list? Then again, how many names do you want to collect. Testing out a new booth display? Or are you just getting out there for the first time and want to get through the weekend without throwing up? For whatever reasons you are there, know in advance what will make you sit down and think, “yes, that was a great show”.
  3. Keep your costs down!!!
    Selling $2000 may make you do the big happy dance, however if you spent $1800 to do this then really, you shouldn’t be dancing. One spot where people lose control of expenses is the last minute things. Realizing the night before that you don’t have enough packaging means that you have to buy whatever you can get your hands on, and it will be more expensive than if you had bought in bulk in advance.
  4. Make sure you have enough inventory!
    And not too much inventory! You can’t hit a sales goal if you run out of things to sell. And an empty booth not only looks lame but guarantees that you won’t get into the show again next year. On the other hand, every piece of inventory costs money to make. Spending $2500 to make inventory and then selling $2000 is not a recipe for success. It is a tough balancing act to have the right amount of inventory. If you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of inventory try to set up a workstation in your booth and see if you can’t make some stuff as the show goes on. And get creative with displays, see if you can spread your work out so that it looks like more.
  5. Have something to upsell.
    If you make necklaces, make the matching earrings. If you make scarves make the matching hat. If you make purses make a matching mini makeup pouch. You know why all those stores have lots of little doodads on the counter beside the cash register? Because they sell. It works. People buy them and the store makes more money. Once someone has committed to buying something from you they’re in, they’re already invested. Unlike a regular store you should ask for the upsell. When someone says, “yes, I’ll take this necklace” your response should be “fabulous! Did you see I have the matching earrings over here?”
  6. Network your little heart out.
    Talk to every single person who walks into your booth. If they aren’t walking in, then say hi as they walk past. (If they aren’t walking in then take a good look around to figure out why not). Talk about your work. Talk about the weather. Give them a business card. Ask them to sign up for your mailing list. Be nice. Smile. You paid to do this, make the most of it. If the show is dead and there are no customers then network with the other vendors. We’re a friendly bunch and we share a lot of information.
  7. Take care of your number one sales tool!
    You! See this post.

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