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November 25, 2014

5 Mistakes to Avoid at a Craft Show

Whether you're getting ready for a large trade show and have an entire booth to fill or you've booked a table at your community's craft show, these 5 mistakes are always important to avoid:

1) Too much variety 

Although you don’t want an empty booth and you want to give your customers options, you don’t want to overwhelm them. Try to focus on your niche and offer a few options within a product line.

As creative types we can brainstorm a million different items and styles to create but it’s best to narrow it down to your key pieces. You’re not a department store so although you could offer a wide variety of handmade products, consider what you want your target market to remember you for.

Even if you already have your handmade products decided, narrowing them down to serve a very specific customer can do wonders for your sales. Sign up for our newsletter on this page to read MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT. It will show you all the benefits of finding a niche, how to easily tweak your existing products and other tricks to get more sales through a few small changes to your products.

You often only get a few seconds to capture a buyer as they walk by so grab their attention with your showstoppers and reel them in to take a closer look at the less dominant pieces in your display. There's more and more competition at craft fairs every year so you can't rely on basic products to draw shoppers in. You need to find a niche!

On average, 2% of shoppers at a craft fair will become your customers so you need to make the most of each person. Draw them in, merchandise for profits, and perfect your pitch.

2) Hiding behind the table

Craft shows can be intimidating, especially if sales aren’t your area of expertise. But people attend craft shows because they want to meet the maker and hear the story behind your work. If you’re sitting down with your head in a book or are busy chatting with your helper, you’re going to miss some good opportunities to make a new customer. You don’t have to be someone you’re not, just smile and start a conversation. It doesn’t even have to be about your work; ask them how their day is going or if they’ve bought anything cool yet. Once you break the ice it’s easy to steer the convo towards your pieces and answer any questions they have.

Chapter 9 has selling tips you can actually use. I'm an introvert and would never suggest some cheesy sales tactic that I know you'll never try. The Selling essentials for introverts section teaches you how to point out the product features your customers actually care about (so you just feel like you're being helpful not pushy) and how to work more of your personality into selling so you never come off as awkward. I know you will increase your sales with this e-book, check out this page to see what's packed into it and download a sample chapter.

3) Inefficient set up 

You don’t want to be searching for change and rummaging through boxes to find bags and tissue paper. The longer you spend completing a transaction and wrapping up the purchase, the less time you have for other customers.

Keep everything you need for making a sale in one area and if possible, prep bags beforehand by pre-stuffing them with tissue paper and business cards so you’re ready to go. This also applies to the front of your table too; make sure products are clearly labelled, easily accessible and shop-able. As we mention in How to Sell To Introverts at a Craft Show, missing prices and tipsy displays are a sure way to drive introverts away. 

As soon as you book a show, start going into prep mode. Figure out how much stock you need (in Ch 6), how you’re going to transport it, display it and package it. Do a mock set up at home and take some photos so it’s easy for you to get your booth ready the day of and to guide any helpers you may have.

Run through how you’re going to wrap your items when you make a sale and how much time it takes you. As you work through your mock set up, make note of anything you’ll need that day so you don’t forget it at home. Start with our handy checklist and add items that are important to your booth. Mistakes happen but try to avoid the unprofessional moments of having to tell a customer you forgot your credit card reader or business cards at home (check out this fun trick for when you're low on business cards or just want them to stay out of the trash)

4) Leaving your display as an afterthought 

I know how much work craft sales are and majority of our efforts go into building up enough stock to get us through the weekend but don’t forget about your booth set up (You can use the formulas in Chapter 6 to determine how much stock you should be bringing to a show & avoid wasting time on extras). This is just as important as your stock because if your booth doesn’t garner enough interest to get people to stop, you won’t have much need for all that product.

Think of it as a storefront window; when you’re walking through the mall, are you likely to go into a store that has a bunch of items laying flat on the window’s floor? Probably not. But when a window tells a story and leads your eye from one item to the next, you’re intrigued to go in and take a closer look.

As mentioned, you want to give a clear message as to what you sell but you also want to add some interest using props. Think about lighting, colors and signage to create an overall vibe that will attract your ideal customer.

Pin It!

5) Customers don’t know where to find you after the show

A stack of business cards on the outer edge of your table is a must! People tend to put more thought into handmade purchases and are less impulsive with them. If your booth is too busy to look through each item or they want to think about it a bit longer, you want to make it easy for them to purchase from you after the craft show is over.

Even if they do purchase from you that day, stick a card in their bag so they can easily buy from you again. Signage and banners are also really helpful. Not only will it make it easy for customers to find and recognize you, a big logo with your website will promote your brand and help people remember you.

If you're looking for some more "aha" moments when it comes to selling your handmade products, MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS is full of them. It's not your typical e-book pointing out the obvious; it shares advice, ideas and directions that will actually help you increase your sales.


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2015-04-10 07:47
Boy, I wished that you could give this lesson to the Annual Festival we have here in our town. Vendors act as if they are part of the inventory and just sit there an never even say "hello". I am so fed up I stopped attending. I stood at one booth with the product in my hand to purchase and the seller never open their mouth. I put the item back. My money comes with a price: Be nice to me and I will release it, act snobbish and it will never be yours!
2015-10-01 06:03
Ive just booked my first stall and its for a Christmas Market.

these 5 pointers are so have given me an amazing idea with number 4.
So excited and nervous at the same time, this all helps.

Made Urban
2015-10-01 10:15
Thank you so much Toni, glad you found it helpful! There are also some other inspiration ideas in this article for treating your booth like a store window:

and some other thoughts to consider for your set up here:

Have an amazing event!! Everyone is nervous at their first few events but craft shows are always fun once you settle in :)
2016-03-24 07:23
Thank you so much for this article. You will never know how much it has helped me get ready for a show.
Made Urban
2016-03-24 09:22
That's so amazing to hear Joy! Thanks so much for reading and good luck at your next event!
2016-05-29 06:29
Thank you so much for the wonderful tips. I have done two Craft Fairs before but my main product that I want to focus on didn't do that we'll. I know now why. Because I had too much other stock. I am going to change that starting today. Thank so much for the great advice. Ina-Jean
Made Urban
2016-06-07 09:54
Thanks for reading Ina-Jean! So glad you found the article helpful. Please keep us posted on how future craft shows go with your narrowed focus :)

2016-10-05 11:45
Thank you for the wonderful tips. I'm about to do my first Christmas fair and your tips are very helpful. I'm excited and nervous.

Now I know that I have to decide what particular item will be the focal point. Thank you Bellatrix
Made Urban
2016-10-06 10:26
Hi Bellatrix! Good luck at your upcoming event. I hope the tips help you have a great show!
Cybergenic Associates Int’l
2016-11-10 09:29
This is a very helpful advise. It's really not appealing for customers if you show no interest or not interacting with them. It makes them feel unimportant. You're wright about "variety" as well, too much of it can only lead to confusion although the more options the better :)
If you need a service provider for your data processing and customer services need and more. Thank you!
Henri Hayworth
2016-11-14 10:54
I've been selling hand-painted canvases and chalkboards at craft shows for the past few years but I don't have a branded business. Should I still hand out business cards? -Henri, St. Louis MO
Made Urban
2016-11-21 11:59
Hi Henri!

I think it's important to start branding your business. It's not just about a logo. A brand creates an experience for your customers so they know what to expect from your business, why to choose you over another and to keep them thinking of you and purchasing in the future. Good branding may seem like a "nice to have" but it will help you sell more.

Even if you don't have a strong brand established yet, it's important to let shoppers know where to find you after a craft fair. Most people don't purchase on the first encounter so if they can't find you when they think of your products a few days later or next month when they need a gift, you're losing sales.

A business card can still be used to hand out your email address, website or social media pages.

Hope that helps!

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