Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Business Chat - Check. Check. And check.

It’s that time of year again, the craft show acceptance/rejection letters are coming in! Did you get in? Are you doing your happy dance?

Your application form should have told you when you will be informed of your status. Do yourself a favour and don’t call before that date. If you haven’t heard by 2 weeks after that date then you can call. Show organizers tend to be busy people and many of them have jobs on top of the show, so they aren’t always on top of deadlines.

If you are reading a rejection letter don’t despair, it happens to all of us more often than you know. Even to those of us who are professional full-time people get rejected.

If you’re turned down it’s most likely because:
·        The quotas for your category are full
·        No space due to returning vendors
·        You have an inappropriate product for the show

You could call the organizer to discuss why you didn’t get in. Be professional and ask what you can do to improve your chances of getting in next year. If you are new you want to form a good relationship with the organizer, screaming at them won’t do that. Here’s an insider tip: If you didn’t get in check the application to find out when the cancellation date is, or ask the organizer. On the cancellation date call the organizer and ask if anyone has dropped out. Life happens and sometimes people have to cancel, although theoretically you are on a wait list your chances are much better if you happen to call on the day that someone else has just backed out.

If you are accepted you should note the cancellation date and policy. Just in case something comes up.

The second thing you should do (after your happy dance) is to make a schedule for the show. You don’t want to leave anything until the night before. Start making lists for inventory, how much do you need to make? Of what? This leads you to the next list, your supplies. What do you need to buy and when are you going to buy it? Now start a third list for your production schedule. Again, don’t leave it all to the last minute. Think about your marketing materials. Do you have enough packaging? Business cards? What about your signs? If you need to have these made how long do they take? It’s always more expensive to leave this stuff to the last minute. 

Then start thinking about your display. Are there any special requirements for the show? One of your best show tools is a good display checklist. Every single thing that you need for the show goes on a list, right down to the stapler and the pens. Setting up your display in advance is always a good thing but most of us don’t have the space or can’t get it together to do this. Sit down and brainstorm. It’s much easier to pack your car when you have a list telling you “3 tables, 3 tablecloths, double-sided tape”. (the double sided tape is to hold the table cloth onto the table so it can’t be pulled off by small kids).

Keep all these lists together on a clipboard, I have one clipboard per show on my desk, I find it easier to refer to than online files.

As it gets closer to the show date and your display starts coming together it’s a really good idea to create a booth set up list. Setting up your booth or table is going to take a lot longer than you thought and you’ll be doing this very early in the morning. A set up list is also really useful if you have anyone helping you. Rather than them staring at you saying “what do I do now?” you just show them the list. To create your set-up list think about setting up. Literally walk yourself though this mentally. Here’s an example:

First I set up the table then I put the tablecloth on. Then I put up my signs.  Then I put the risers on. Then the earring stands. Then I put the earrings on the stands, and so on.

As you stand in your booth at show opening, with every thing all nicely laid out, all ready to make your fortune while your neighbours scramble to finish you’ll be thankful that you were so organized for the past 6 months.

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