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April 29, 2016


Did you know I recently wrote an e-book? Well I did :) It covers how to MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS and will walk you through every aspect of applying, preparing and selling at one. But I wanted to share a few reasons your sales may not be as high as you would like.

If any of the following ring true for you, download the Free Chapter: MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT so you can get a feel for the type of useful info that’s inside (it’s not your typical I’ve-pinned-a-hundred-articles-on-Pinterest-and-they-all-say-the-same-obvious-things type of advice, it’s real light bulb moments, actionable type of advice that will get you results). Or go straight ahead and download the full e-book…I promise you won’t be disappointed!

So let’s get to it. We’ve all signed up for a craft show with high hopes; thinking the proven track record of the event or our products are going to bring us tons of sales but we end up walking away a little disappointed. Here are 5 reasons your sales may be suffering.

1) You’re choosing the wrong events

Seems obvious right? I’m not talking about people who sell high-end art signing up for a bake sale. I mean the annual events that draw big crowds and everyone boasts about, that you’re sure, based on the volume of traffic and vendor testimonials, will get you sales.

You really need to think about the shopper, what they’re heading to the event for and if your products will fit their needs.

I go over a bunch of important elements to watch for and research in Chapter 3: FINDING CRAFT FAIRS THAT FIT that will take the guesswork out of choosing, applying and getting accepted to events. But here are some basics to watch for:

The event’s vibe – A craft fair may be great but if your products don’t fit in, it won’t be great for you. Imagine trying to sell little girls’ tutus at a trendy, underground bazaar that gets written about by all the local papers. As many people as it draws, when your tutus are surrounded by handmade beard oil, edgy art and craft beer, your ideal customer isn’t likely to be in that crowd.

The event’s financial demographic – What are people heading to the event for? To do some hardcore Christmas shopping or to pick up a few groceries? People stopping by a farmers’ market are likely heading there with the intention to spend around $20. If they stumble upon something they love, they may run to the bank machine or pull out their credit card but they’re just not in the mindset to pick up a new $500 10’ x 10' piece of art.

The event’s marketing – It should be very clear who the event is for so they can advertise in the right places and draw the right crowds. They should also have an online presence and be creating lots of buzz around the event. If the organizer, vendors and shoppers aren’t talking about it, how's word getting out?

The event’s purpose – There’s a huge festival that draws the entire city. Sounds like the perfect place to sell your handmade goods no? Not necessarily. Consider the reason people are headed to the event and if it will be a distraction for your sales. If people are flocking to a festival to see a bunch of their favorite bands play over the course of a weekend, they’re probably going to be taking in as much music as possible and spending their money on food and drinks. They don't want to carry shopping bags around all day.

It’s not that you should avoid these events altogether, but you do need to adjust to your surroundings and create versions of your products that will appeal to the audience and their budget (that doesn’t mean lowering your prices, that means lowering your costs).

2) Your products are too basic

“I know you’re not talkin bout my products!” Yes, they’re handmade and yes, they’re amazing but what’s unique about them?

What makes your knitted hats different from every other vendor knitting hats? Why should shoppers buy a pair of druzy studs from you instead of from a store in the mall? What’s the benefit of buying your organic lip balm instead of Burt’s Bees?

It’s too hard to compete with the big brands when you’re selling handmade. You can’t be bigger, faster or cheaper than them so why not go smaller and tailor your products to a very specific need. Don’t just narrow it down to one category, go into subcategories.

A vendor selling handmade, full jewelry lines in a variety of metals and stones may narrow down their products in the following way:

They’re not big when it comes to dressing up and they always wear their hair in a simple bun so they love wearing big, bold earrings as a way to show off their style and spruce up an outfit. So...they decide to focus on earrings. They also have a sensitivity when it comes to metals so they only make earrings out of sterling silver and 14k gold. They also love bold colors so their collections always use bright colorful stones and jewels.

Now instead of selling “handmade jewelry” they sell “sterling silver and 14k gold statement earrings”.

From there, it’s really easy to create a style their brand becomes known for because they’re focusing their efforts on one type of product instead of trying to carry full lines in a variety of styles and spreading themselves too thin.

The product itself doesn’t necessarily need to be "out of this world" different, you can put a new spin on a basic product through packaging and marketing. That’s how EOS took lip balm and put a unique spin on it to became a top seller. You can buy lip balm anywhere but their pod shaped packaging in bright colors turned it into something you couldn’t buy from anyone else.

Don’t throw your previous work out the door though. Follow the advice in my e-book to work off of facts, test your products and tweak based on results.

I cover how to find which of your products are most profitable in the Sample Chapter MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT (which you can download for free now) so you make sure you're starting with a product that’s going to make you money before your dive into a niche.

Once you have a niche product, you can build around it to increase your sales.

Learn how adding a lower and higher priced product will drive more sales, how collections can make products irresistible (and easy to display) and how you can alter people’s perception of your products so when they check out the price they think: I totally thought this was going to be more expensive, now I’m definitely buying it!

People do purchase items that are similar to ones they can find elsewhere but they come back for more when you’re selling something they can’t get anywhere else.

3) You didn’t invite your tribe

If you’ve left all the marketing up to the event organizer and didn’t bother to tell your loyal fans about the event, you’re missing out! Yes you’re paying an event organizer to bring the crowds but when everyone does their part to spread the word, it makes it bigger and better than any one person could.

Give your fans incentive to come visit you at the event and start talking about it! Chapter 8: INVITING YOUR FOLLOWERS gives you incentive ideas that will actually get people off their couches and through those craft fair doors. I also cover 10 different places you can mention the event (and no they’re not: 1) Facebook 2) Twitter 3) Pinterest 4) Instagram 5) Google + 6) LinkedIn 7) Periscope 8) Tumblr 9) Snapchat 10) Vine).

As you know, it’s much easier to sell to existing customers than it is to make new ones so take advantage of that fact and get your existing fans, followers and customers to the craft fair.

4) Your display is throwing shoppers off

Everything that surrounds your products alters people’s perception of them…..for better or for worse. The tags you put on them, the props you set them on and the look of your craft fair booth will all make an impact and lead people to buy or to browse.

Imagine a silver necklace surrounded by 10 more just like it. 20 other types of necklaces, a wide variety of rings and a bunch of earrings surround those. You could pick out some pieces that worked together but nothing really matches. The rings are in a black felt ring box, the necklaces are laying flat on a gingham tablecloth and the earrings are displayed on a turquoise pegboard. The prices are handwritten on some stickers, randomly placed wherever they’ll fit on the item. When you turn that price tag over, how much are you expecting a piece to be?

Now imagine a silver necklace with a turquoise stone, set perfectly on a white prop. The matching earrings and ring are set on a similar background and the tablecloth is also a crisp white. Another version of the necklace is shown above the display on a white bust form and an enlarged photo behind that shows all three pieces worn together by a model. Additional stock is kept behind the table so each piece looks like it's one-of-a-kind. There are two more collections on the table made from emerald and amethyst. The prices are shown on cards next to the items and when you take a closer look, how much are you expecting the pieces to be?

The way you display each item at a craft fair and set up your booth around them all lead the shopper to put a value on your products before they see the price. Both necklaces are $40 but in the first scenario, you'd likely think that’s too much while in the second, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Your display needs to draw shoppers in, lead their eye from one product to the next, encourage people to shop and increase your sales. All this is covered in Chapter 7: CREATING A DISPLAY THAT SELLS.

5) Your sales techniques could use some help

I know. You probably hate selling. It feels uncomfortable and awkward and people can see for themselves what the product is so why do you need to explain it? But sales techniques are used for a reason. They don’t need to be slimy or awkward. They can be helpful and natural if you just point out the benefits of your products.

Sure “handmade”, “locally made”, “one of a kind” or “high quality” may be considered a benefit but in most situations, it’s not what drives purchasing.

Are you going to buy a wool hat just because it’s handmade? Probably not. You’re going to buy the hat because it’s exactly what you’re looking for and can imagine how awesome it’s going to look with your winter jacket.

Think about how your products are going to make a shopper’s life better. That’s what they need to hear to be influenced to buy. Consider what you care about when you’re in the market for your products and communicate that to your shoppers.

Are your prints going to make it easy for someone with zero design skills to create a stunning art wall and pull a room together? Is your soap going to soothe their sensitive skin? Or maybe your earrings are just going to make them look trendier. Get them to see that! (Read this article for a trick retailers use to get you to buy. It's simple and can be used for your handmade products online and at craft fairs.)

When it comes to your sales pitch, you’re not hand-making earrings that come in gold, silver and rose gold. You’re selling your version of earrings worn by celebrities, at an affordable price. And the day after they see their favorite actress wearing a pair of earrings on the red carpet, they can purchase a similar pair from you so they’re always the first to have the latest trends.

Chapter 9: PERFECTING YOUR SELLING SKILLS gives you techniques you can actually use (without feeling awkward) to strike up a conversation with anyone. Once you break the ice, you can share (not sell) the unique selling features of your products, which you'll uncovered in the Selling essentials for introverts section and bundle into a pitch through the Crafting the perfect sales pitch section.

Those are the 5 reasons you're not making more money selling your handmade goods at craft fairs! Let me know how you're going to make some changes and start making more money!

2016-07-13 11:57
Holy cow. This was freaking great info, thanks so much! So much of it seems like common sense, but you totally put it into perspective. Love the part where you describe two booth set ups. In my mind I was totally like, oh ya, first table should be like $10 for the necklace, and second set up should be like $60. Great tips, thank you thank you!
Made Urban
2016-07-13 01:02
So glad you found it helpful Dana! I love using analogies so I'm happy to hear the made up scenario with the two necklace displays helped explain things :)
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