Whether you’re getting ready for a large trade show and have an entire booth to fill, or you’ve booked a table at a community craft show, these 5 mistakes are always important to avoid.
Craft Show Mistake #1: Too much variety
Although you don’t want an empty booth and you do want to give your customers options, you don’t want to overwhelm them.
When I started selling at craft shows, I figured: the more types of products and product options I have, the better chance I have to sell something to each shopper.
There’s actually a study proving that more options can actually reduce sales. You can read about that here if you’re doubting less selection can produce more sales.
Not only does too much variety make your craft show table look disjointed (and sometimes unprofessional), it also makes it hard for shoppers to make a decision.
If you have the choice between vanilla or chocolate ice cream, how quickly can you make a decision and purchase your ice cream?
A matter of seconds right?
If you have 50 ice cream choices, plus cake, pie, and donuts to choose from, it’s going to take you much longer to make a decision.
This is what happens at your craft show booth when you have too much selection.
Shoppers take longer to make a decision, and sometimes need to walk away and think about it.
You’re not a department store; you’re a small handmade business.
Don’t try to offer something for everyone, or try to serve too broad of a target market (e.g. jewelry for all women).
Determine who your target market is (e.g. people who are a mother to a daughter) and what you want your business to be remembered for (e.g. mother-daughter jewelry).
In the craft show display below, I have too much variety, as I’m selling:
- cosmetic bags
- burp cloths
- baby blankets
- heating pads
I’m targeting a few different types of customers and serving conflicting shopping occasions. Meaning, when someone is shopping for winter accessories (mittens), they’re unlikely to also be shopping for cosmetic bags.
Trying to get shoppers to think about bundling up in winter accessories and then think about what type of cosmetic bags they need for traveling is too much context-switching.
Keep your shoppers focused on one task while at your table (e.g. accessorizing for winter OR organizing cosmetics for travel; NOT both).
What’s your key message?
I sell ___________
For example: I sell cosmetic bags.
If I have cosmetic bags, mittens, and burp cloths on my table, that message (I sell cosmetic bags) won’t be clear to shoppers.
When I remove products that confuse my message, my display looks cleaner, easier to shop, more cohesive, and more professional.
Instead of looking like a crafter who dabbles in a variety of products, I now look like a business selling cosmetic bags.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather buy a cosmetic bag from someone who specializes in them; not someone who dabbles in them.
I’m also willing to pay more for a product when it’s made by an expert.
>> If you’d like to read about the 6 mistakes made with the first display and how to correct them, check out: 6 Simple Ways to Improve a Craft Show Display
Bonus points if your message also tells shoppers what you do differently or better than competitors.
For example, I may focus on “vegan cosmetic bags” and sell only high-quality vinyl bags. Or, I may be different from competitors by focusing on cosmetic bags for brides.
If you sell jewelry but every piece is made with a healing crystal and has a bohemian style, you have one message: you make bohemian healing crystal jewelry.
On the other hand, if you offer a wide variety of jewelry and some are bold statement pieces, some are minimalistic gold pieces, some are made with plastic beads and others incorporate healing crystals, you’re sending a mixed message. In general, you’re saying: I make jewelry. Millions of people make jewelry, but far fewer make “healing crystal jewelry”.
When narrowing your selection, you may want to consider what types of products tend to sell better at craft shows:
Or, the types of products that are trending:
If you need a little help and direction when it comes to refining your product selection, join the FREE email challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY.
Craft Show Mistake #2: Not enough variety in pricing
Although you may be narrowing your selection, you do want to offer a range of price points.
This not only helps you appeal to a range of budgets, but it also makes shoppers who are on the fence feel more comfortable buying.
For example, if I discover an artist at a craft show, I may not be ready to spend hundreds of dollars on an original piece of art. But if the artist is selling smaller prints for $20, I might buy a print to take home and test in my space, or to have something to enjoy until I’m ready to spend more money.
A variety of price points also allows you to increase your units per transaction (UPT) and boost sales.
If I only offer one size and style of cosmetic bag, it’s unlikely one customer will buy 2 or more of the same bag.
But when I offer a bag in different size and style options, a customer is more likely to add items to their purchase.
You can still offer pricing options, even if you only make one type of product.
Let’s say I only sell a medium-sized cosmetic bag. I can offer that bag in:
- a polyester fabric (low price point)
- a vinyl fabric (medium price point)
- leather (high price point)
A shopper who loves my pieces but is on a budget may purchase the bag in polyester fabric, while someone buying a gift and wanting to spend around $40-$50 can purchase the bag in leather.
Craft show shoppers are browsing and discovering new products and businesses.
This means, most shoppers won’t be prepared to spend a lot of money.
Try to stock up on low and mid-priced products so those who are being introduced to your business for the first time, have a selection to buy from. Use your high-priced items as the showstoppers. Place them at eye level and in a spot that catches the eye to draw people in.
Here are several ways to add a variety of price points and increase sales:
- How to Use Up-Selling to Sell More Handmade
- How to Use Add-Ons to Sell More Handmade
- How to Create an Entry-Level Product for your Handmade Business
- How & Why a Craft Business Should Down-Sell
And here’s where to place each type of product in your display: Craft Show Table Layout Tips
Craft Show Mistake #3: Customers don’t know where to find you after the show
The majority of craft show shoppers won’t buy from you.
The average conversion rate of a brick-and-mortar store is 20% – 30% (source). Which means, if 100 people walk into a shop, on average, only 20 – 30 people will actually buy something.
Online conversion rates are lower; typically 2% – 3% (because options are endless online).
Your conversion rate will vary depending on what type of event you’re selling at, what you’re selling, price points, time of year, etc.
Because shoppers don’t know what they’ll find at a craft show until they walk through the doors, and there are dozens (if not hundreds) of vendors to choose from, it’s likely conversion rates at a craft show fall somewhere between brick-and-mortar and online averages.
Let’s say the average craft show booth conversion rate is around 10%.
That means 90% of shoppers won’t buy from you.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not interested in your products.
So it’s important to market to those shoppers in hopes they buy from you after the event.
First, your booth should be memorable.
You want to be known as: “THE vendor selling candy-scented soaps”. Or, “the vendor selling healing crystal jewelry”, or “the vendor selling cat-themed bags”, etc.
“The vendor selling a few bags, some mittens, burp cloths, and heating pads” is NOT as memorable.
Then, you should give shoppers a way to contact you after the event.
Place a stack of business cards on the outer edge of your table so it’s easy for shoppers to grab one as they’re leaving your space (or try this trick to save money and ensure shoppers hang onto your information).
For shoppers that do purchase from you that day, stick a clever business card in their bag so they can easily buy from you again.
Even better, give yourself a way to contact shoppers after the event, by getting them to sign up for your newsletter.
There are several factors to think about and you don’t want to break any laws so be sure to read over this article in regard to newsletters.
>> You may also be interested in: 3 BIG LEGAL MISTAKES CRAFTERS MAKE.
Craft Show Mistake #4: Hiding behind the table
Craft shows can be intimidating, especially if you don’t like selling (or small talk with strangers).
But people attend craft shows because they want to meet the maker and hear the story behind their work.
If you don’t share the story behind your business and your products, you’re taking away an important part of their experience.
If you’ve got your head in a book or are busy chatting with your helper, you’re going to miss opportunities to gain a new customer.
You don’t have to be someone you’re not; just smile and start a conversation (here are easy ways to do that).
Sharing your story with craft show customers gives them something interesting to talk about or think about each time they use your products.
You don’t have to be saving the world or reinventing the wheel to have something interesting to share with shoppers. There are a variety of ways to uncover the hidden stories behind your business and products.
I’ll teach you how to tell a story that sells in the FREE email challenge 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY.
Craft Show Mistake #5: Leaving your display as an afterthought
If you hate selling, let your display do some of the selling for you.
I know how much work craft sales are and the majority of your efforts go into building stock.
But your booth setup deserves just as much thought and effort as your products.
If your booth doesn’t catch shoppers’ attention and draw them over, you won’t even have a chance to sell all the products you’ve made.
When your ideal customer walks in the door, you want them to notice you right away based on the color of your space and products, the font in your signage, your display fixtures and props, and the image you give off (here’s how you should dress to boost sales).
Secondly, if you don’t put effort into your display, it can actually devalue your products.
Imagine being served a filet mignon on a paper plate in a dirty, noisy, run-down restaurant. The meat may be worth $20+ but you’re not willing to pay more than $5 based on the surroundings.
Make sure each element surrounding your products in your craft show booth add to their value, not detract from it. From your tablecloth to your price tags, no detail is too small to put effort into.
And lastly, if the space isn’t designed properly, you’ll have a hard time keeping shoppers around long enough to buy.
You need your space to be shoppable and encourage people to pick up items. If shoppers don’t feel comfortable touching because a fixture looks like it might fall over, or your products look too precious to touch, they won’t buy.
I explain how to create the perfect craft show table layout in this article.
If you want to learn how to create a display that shares your message and tells a story, check out my free email challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY
This tip is one I learned while working as a visual merchandiser for major retailers.
Sales associates had to follow a simple rule to boost sales:
As soon as there were more than 2 people in line to pay, an associate had to open a register and get that line moving faster.
>> The longer the lineup, the more reason people had NOT to buy.
>> The quicker the line moves, the more sales can be made per hour.
Even if you never have a lineup of people wanting to pay, your customers don’t want to stand around waiting for you to find your credit card machine, searching for change, or rummaging through boxes to find your tissue paper.
The longer you take to complete a transaction and wrap 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.
Which mistakes do you see vendors make most often at craft shows? Share in the comments!
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!