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May 18, 2016

MISTAKES I SEE MOST OFTEN AT CRAFT FAIRS & THE SIMPLE SOLUTIONS



Perceived value is everything when it comes to selling your work. You don’t want to put hours and hours into a product that your ideal customer loves and would pay top dollar for, only to have them think it’s cheaply made because it’s thrown in a Ziplock bag for packaging.

Online, photos and text are King. But in person, there are several details that need your attention to be sure more shoppers are saying Sold! rather than See ya! These are 5 areas you may be lowering perceived value which ultimately lowers your sales.

I love using analogies so let’s imagine EOS (a strong brand I reference frequently) as a small handmade business, debuting their products at a craft fair. These are made up scenarios to help you see how a major lip balm brand may have flopped because of these mistakes or succeeded by doing the opposite.

This article covers a brief outline of the solutions to these mistakes and if you’re looking for more details, you’ll find everything you need to know about making the best impression possible at craft fairs in my e-book: MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS. I’ve noted the Chapter each solution is covered under so you can check out the Chapter outline by following the link.

And every great craft fair table starts with great products so our sample chapter MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT is a must read. Free to download and available instantly; just enter your email after following the link below :)


PRODUCTS THAT LACK DIRECTION

This is probably the most common mistake among craft show vendors and I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of it as well. We’re creative creatures and want to show off just how crafty we can get. But when you’re constantly changing or expanding your offering, it makes it really hard to build a strong brand.

MISTAKE SCENARIO: EOS has created their signature pod shaped lip balms and are launching them at a craft fair. But they also made shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, hand soap, foot cream and face cream to sell, in hopes they reach a wider audience and make more sales. They have a hard time displaying their products because there isn’t a cohesive theme to them. They group each type of product together and hope shoppers will work their way through the selection (instead of drawing their attention to a specific product or collection).

Shoppers are most interested in their lip balm but at the end of the day, EOS didn't notice because they only stocked a few of each product and therefore their sales were scattered across the board.

They also have a hard time standing out at the craft fair since shoppers don't notice anything unique about their products. There are a couple other vendors selling handmade bath and body items so shoppers don't feel as though the need to buy from EOS. It's more a matter of price and convenience.

SOLUTION SCENARIO: EOS decides to debut just their lip balms and hand creams at the craft fair. Their limited product selection allows them to focus on all the details that make their brand unique. Their colorful pod shaped packaging is used for both their lip balms and hand creams and their products are marketed towards customers interested in organic ingredients.

They created three different flavors/scents for their two products which makes it really easy to display and direct shoppers’ attention towards one collection at a time. Mint comes in turquoise packaging, Strawberry comes in pink and Honeydew in a lime green. The product groupings create bright blocks of color on their table that instantly catch shoppers’ attention.

Find the SOLUTION in the Sample Chapter 5: MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT


FINISHING TOUCHES AREN’T POLISHED

When we make mistake # 1, it leaves us with very little time to focus on the details. We’re too busy trying to perfect a wide variety of products and build up enough stock in each that we don’t put thought or time into packaging, tagging, wrapping, etc.

MISTAKE SCENARIO: EOS nailed their pod shaped lip balm container but didn’t carry that through to their other products so their brand lacks direction with a hodge-podge of packaging.

Their wide selection of products means that they're basically jacks-of-all-trades, master of none. It also leaves them with a lack of direction when it comes to targeting their products towards a specific customer.

Wrapping is an afterthought since most of their time went into producing 7 different types of products and when a sale is made, they simply toss the item into a generic bag and thank the customer for their purchase.

SOLUTION SCENARIO: With 2 products, they are able to properly brand and design pod shaped containers for both their lip balm and hand cream to help them stand out.

2 products also allowed them to test different formulas to find a combination that produced an amazing lip balm and hand cream. There are now able to brand all their products as 95% organic, 100% natural and paraben/petroleum free.

They stamp their logo on colored bags and match the bag and tissue paper color to the color of the collection the bought item is from. They offer to spritz each shopping bag with the fragrance of the collection, which carries the delicious scents of their products throughout the craft fair and has shoppers following their noses to find where it's coming from.

This one is also covered in our sample chapter: MAKING PRODUCT THAT PROFIT which you can download right now!

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MAKERS MUDDY THE BRAND'S MESSAGE

You’re always representing your brand so it’s important to look and play the part of someone who’s an expert in what you’re selling. Just as you’d be a little weary of a salesman trying to sell you on luxury while they’re wearing wrinkled clothes and swearing like a trucker, your shoppers are scoping you out to see if you and your brand seem authentic.

MISTAKE SCENARIO: EOS business owners stayed up LATE the night before the craft fair trying to make enough inventory for each of their 7 products. They roll into the event in sweat pants and a t-shirt and haven’t even thought about their sales pitches. They figure: We invented the product, we’ll know what to say and how to sell it. They stumble over their words and miss mentioning some really important selling features their ideal customers would be interested in.

There is also so much to cover when it comes to the benefits of each product. It's a bit of a struggle to find the right words on the spot to tie everything together since their products and branding lack focus. 

SOLUTION SCENARIO: EOS business owners knew that if they wanted to successfully sell products that promoted beautiful skin, their skin better look its best and they needed a good night’s sleep before the event. So they used the steps and worksheets in our e-book to be prepared and plan accordingly ;) Their brand is all about natural beauty so they keep their looks fresh and clean and make sure their lips and hands are looking moisturized.

They spent time thinking about the features that really make their products stand out. They know lots of companies sell skincare products made from organic ingredients so they examined several aspects of their business to pull the important pieces together that would help them make sales. From the reason they started their company and their values, to their manufacturing and product benefits; they worked out the perfect pitches for the business and each product.

They also want to get feedback so they can continue to improve their product to appeal to their target market so they brainstorm some specific questions to ask shoppers. Being so prepared makes them feel comfortable at the craft fair, which makes their shoppers feel comfortable.

Dressing the part and proper selling techniques are covered under Chapter 7: CREATING A DISPLAY THAT SELLS (YOU are an element of your display that helps Attract Shoppers) & Chapter 9: PERFECTING YOUR SELLING SKILLS


DISPLAY DETAILS THAT DETRACT

Craft fair props from your tablecloth to your signage should be well planned and used to strengthen your brand and product’s value. There are so many elements that go into a great display that not only attract shoppers but also help convert them into customers.

MISTAKE SCENARIO: You guessed it; trying to keep up with stocking 7 different products didn’t leave much time to think about their display. They pulled a white tablecloth off their dining room table and emptied a few baskets around the house to hold their products.

The props don’t match, let alone work with the products. Signage is made right before the doors open by quickly scribbling some prices on heavy paper and folding them in half to create cards to sit in front of each grouping.

SOLUTION SCENARIO: EOS started thinking about their display props the second they were accepted to the craft fair. They were able to purchase different props that work together and emphasize their products. Signage was professionally printed and matches the colors of their collections.

This solution is covered in Chapter 7: CREATING A DISPLAY THAT SELLS


DISPLAY DOESN'T INCORPORATE KEY ELEMENTS OF MERCHANDISING

Craft fairs are getting more and more competitive each year. You need to think of your space as it’s own store and create a unique atmosphere for shoppers to walk into. Merchandising is a job retailers take very seriously because they know where and how they place their products, can make or break sales. I worked for 2 multi-million dollar retailers over 10 years and picked up several tricks of the trade (which are obviously shared in my e-book). I was also able to see, firsthand, how little merchandising tweaks could make a big impact on sales.

MISTAKE SCENARIO: EOS owners thought: people care about the product, not what’s around it so they arranged their products on the table and thought that was that. But shoppers don’t notice them from across the room since their display doesn't implement height or eye-catching elements. The lack of composition leads people who do stop by to feel overwhelmed, not knowing where to look next.

SOLUTION SCENARIO: Purchasing the proper props allows EOS owners to group their collections together, add height to their display and create compositions that create a natural flow to their space. They also had some signage made so shoppers notice their brand from across the room and remember their name.

Shoppers can take in one collection and message at a time and walk away with a clear understanding of the brand. With limited time to grab people’s attention, they ensure their space communicates who they are, what they're selling and why shoppers should care about their products.

This solution is also covered in Chapter 7: CREATING A DISPLAY THAT SELLS

What do you think? Did this article spark any ideas for you? If so, share them below! I love hearing your feedback and answering any questions you may have :)

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Comments
Angela
2016-06-05 06:49
I appreciate the thought you put into all of your articles. I'm in the process of making "less" for my own business and brainstorming how I exactly want to portray my brand. 😊
Made Urban
2016-06-07 09:52
Thanks so much Angela!! That's so great to hear and I'm glad you're enjoying the articles.

Let me know how "making less" goes and if you have any questions along the way!

Erin
Karen McLendon
2016-09-26 01:37
I very much enjoyed this article. I make and sell wind chimes made of silver plate silverware and glass beads. I set up every Sat at our local farmer's market and do a thriving business. I am finding that I want more. I want to expand into on line sales. I have tightened my business and only sell wind chimes. My whole show comes out of one crate. I keep distractions to a minimum....but am having a hard time with hawkers...you know those people so insecure that they must distract your customers and call them over to their booth. Any advice? I ask nicely for them to stop(it is against market rules) and they ignore me. I am sure there are alot of people dealing with this rude behavior. I would appreciate a solution. Love your ideas.
Made Urban
2016-09-28 08:46
Thanks for reading Karen! Great question. I've never had to deal with vendors like that but can understand how frustrating it would be.

1) Try creating a bit of a barrier between your booth and theirs so shoppers are out of view from the other vendors. For example, if you have a full booth with a tent, invest in side walls and set your table or display back in your booth so shoppers walk in and your left and right neighbour can't see them until they step out of your space. If you have a table instead of a booth, perhaps your displays could be a little higher on the sides.

2) You could mention their behavior to the organizer and ask not to be placed near them at the next event.

3) As difficult as it may seem, do your best to ignore them and focus on your shoppers. It sounds like you have a unique product to set you apart from other vendors and as a shopper, I would personally be annoyed with someone calling me over and would probably ignore them.

Hope that helps a bit!

Erin
Karen McLendon
2016-09-28 08:14
I appreciate you responding to my comment. I have spoken to the market manager and she has promised to speak with the vendor. I could not isolate my booth. I hang the wind chimes around the perimeter of the tent. I also have the option of putting up 2 10foot tents which will hang about 40 wind chimes...tables are set up in the middle. This usually hushes up other vendors and we will sell out. Thank you for your help.
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