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 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 people, we can brainstorm a million 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.
When you offer too much selection, you become a Jack of all trades, master of none.
The best brands know who they are and what they’re offering. They’re not trying to please everyone; they’re going after a targeted demographic (that’s profitable…here’s how to find yours) and offering a specific selection that appeals to them.
Although you may be able to make dishcloths, scarves, paintings, and purses, having them all on your table waters down your message.
I’ve been to a LOT of craft shows and some of the more popular booths only sell one product. That’s not to say offering several products is a bad idea…not at all.
If you want to know what sells best at craft shows, check out:
And if you’re interested in what’s trending, check out:
Booths with several different products for sale can be just as popular. But even when there’s a wider selection, there should be just ONE key message.
And that message should tell shoppers:
What makes your products better or different than your competitors?
What do you do exceptionally well? Is it making bold statement pieces? knitting chunky scarves? Or maybe you source the best ingredients for your soaps.
For example, 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”.
Narrowing your selection alone makes your business more memorable.
The reason your products are different or “better” needs to be obvious and the more selections you add, the harder it is to convey that message.
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.
Every business is different and if you only make one product, you may only have one price point, which may work perfectly for you.
But the higher that price point goes, the more you want to consider offering an entry-level product.
You need to gain consumers’ trust before they’ll be ready to give you large sums of money.
Spending $20 and under with an unknown business isn’t a huge risk. Wasting $20 (or less) on a product they don’t end up loving/using, or that falls apart isn’t great, but they’ll get over wasting $20 pretty quick.
On the other hand, wasting $50, $100, or more, is a harder pill to swallow. So if it’s their first encounter with your business, they’re less likely to jump in and spend $50+. They want to get to know your business better first and feel more confident it will be money well spent.
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
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel or spend a lot of time and money creating new products. Just a few small changes and you can instantly boost your sales.
Craft Show Mistake #3: Customers don’t know where to find you after the show
We’ve just talked about the people who do buy from you.
But what about those who don’t buy?
On average, only 2% of shoppers will purchase from you.
That number can go up or down based on several factors (e.g. if you sell a niche product with very little competition, are selling at an event targeting your exact market, it’s around a gift-giving holiday, etc. it may go up).
That leaves 98% of the people who walk through those doors, not putting money in your hands…..today.
If you think about that number and find ways to encourage a second contact with them, you can keep sales rolling in long after the event is over.
A stack of business cards on the outer edge of your table is a must! (or try this trick to save money and ensure shoppers hang onto your information).
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, 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 clever business card in their bag so they can easily buy from you again.
Try collecting email addresses by asking people if they want 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 have a read over this article in regards to newsletters.
You may also want to check out:
Also, make it EASY for shoppers to remember you after the show.
If your business, products, and display aren’t memorable, they’ll have a hard time finding you. “The one selling handmade jewelry” could describe every jewelry vendor at the event. “The one selling healing crystal jewelry” narrows it down.
Craft Show Mistake #4: Hiding behind the table
Craft shows can be intimidating, especially if sales aren’t your expertise. 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’re sitting down with 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/stories 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 enough stock to get you through the weekend. But your booth setup deserves just as much thought and effort as your products.
I won’t get into too much detail when it comes to how to create an amazing display; that’s what the free email challenge will help you with. Sign up for it here.
But I will share why your display is SO important.
First, if your booth doesn’t catch shoppers’ attention and draw them over, you won’t have much need for all that product. 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. Serve that same steak in a beautiful restaurant with an elegant atmosphere and helpful servers and you’re now willing to pay $50+ for it.
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 don’t want shoppers to feel cramped, like they can’t get to things, or like they might knock something over. You also don’t want your showstopper, which is supposed to be drawing more people over, to be blocked by people paying for their purchase.
I explain how to create the perfect craft show table layout in this article.
An extra bonus tip is one I learned in retail.
The rule sales associates had to follow to boost sales was: 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. No one likes to wait and being unorganized doesn’t give off a professional vibe.
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.
As soon as you book a show, start going into prep mode. Figure out how much stock you need, how you’re going to transport it, display it, and package it. Do a mock setup at home and take photos so it’s easy to get your booth ready the day of and guide any helpers.
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 setup, make note of anything you’ll need so you don’t forget it at home.
For a step-by-step guide to applying, preparing for, and selling at craft shows, check out: Make More Money at Craft Fairs
Which mistakes do you see vendors make most often at craft shows? Share in the comments!