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.
There are so many factors that can throw off craft show sales but these are the top five culprits of low sales.
Here are 5 reasons your sales may be suffering.
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.
You can find several elements and a checklist to ensure you’re choosing the right events, in CH 3 of my ebook MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS. 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, you won’t be making more money. Imagine trying to sell little girls’ tutus at a trendy, underground bazaar. 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 and start making more money right? 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 weekend, they’re probably going to be taking in as much music as possible and spending their money on food and drinks. They may not 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. Find ways to cover your expenses and increase profits in the free sample chapter of MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS).
“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 to offer products shoppers can’t find in their favorite shops at the mall. 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:
The vendor doesn’t love dressing up and they always wear their hair in a simple bun so they tend to wear 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. Check out one of our most popular articles for a closer look at the brand that was late to the lip balm scene but quickly became one of the most popular lip balms out there…and how you can follow their lead.
Don’t throw your previous work out the window though. Work off facts, test your products and tweak based on results.
Not sure if your products need a makeover? Check out my FREE sample chapter MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT
Download the sample chapter for free and 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 thought it would be more expensive instead of: Oh….that’s expensive!
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 and everyone ends up making more money.
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 unique ways to promote the event.
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.
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 work together but nothing really matches. The rings are displayed in a black felt ring box or sitting on top of rice in bowls. The necklaces are laying flat on a gingham tablecloth or draped around mismatched wine bottles. The earrings are displayed on a turquoise pegboard. Prices are handwritten on different types of 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 will lead the shopper to put a value on your products before they see the price. Both necklaces are $50 but in the first scenario, you may 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.
Not sure if your display needs help?
Join the FREE 5 DAY CHALLENGE: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY. It will walk you through how to create a powerful display that draws shoppers over and converts more of them into customers. Learn more about the challenge here or sign up below!
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?
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 art prints going to make it easy for someone with zero design skills to create a stunning art wall and pull a room together? Are your bath bombs going to create a wonderful spa experience at home? Or maybe your earrings are just going to make someone 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.)
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. Not sure what your USP (unique selling position) is? Check out:
Those are the 5 reasons you’re not making more money selling your handmade goods at craft fairs!
If you need a little help with #4 and want some direction on how to improve your craft show display, join my FREE challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY. It will walk you through creating an amazing display that shoppers notice as soon as they enter the venue and remember long after they leave. Join below!
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