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.
REASON #1: You’re choosing the wrong events
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 chapter 3 of MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS. But here are some basics to watch for:
- The event’s vibe – it may be a well-produced event, but if your products don’t fit in, you won’t be making much money. Imagine trying to sell little girls’ tutus at an underground bazaar. As many people as the event attracts, 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 Christmas shopping or to pick up 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 and that it’s being advertised in the right places and drawing the right crowds. The event should also have an online presence and be creating lots of buzz. If the organizer, vendors, and shoppers aren’t talking about it, how’s word getting out?
- The event’s purpose – 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 probably aren’t going to buy a piece of art to carry around all day. But they would probably buy a new hat, piece of jewelry, top, or bag they can wear.
It’s not that you should avoid these events altogether, but you do need to 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).
REASON #2: Your products are too basic
Yes, your products are 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 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 and offer products shoppers can’t find in their favorite shops at the mall.
The products you sell don’t 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 become 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 this article 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. Make improvements based on your stats; what sells best, which features do your shoppers love the most, which fabrics/colors/ingredients/etc. are they most drawn to?
Not sure if your products need a makeover? Check out the FREE sample chapter MAKING PRODUCTS THAT PROFIT.
REASON #3: You didn’t invite your people
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 an incentive to visit you at the event and start talking about it!
It’s much easier to sell to existing customers than it is to make new ones. So get your existing fans, followers, and customers to your next craft fair.
REASON #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 your products, 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. The necklaces are laying flat on a gingham tablecloth or draped around mismatched wine bottles. The earrings are displayed on a pegboard.
How much would you expect a necklace to be?
Now imagine a silver necklace with a turquoise stone, set on a white bust form. The complimenting earrings, bracelet, and ring are displayed on white jewelry display fixtures. An enlarged photo shows all three pieces worn together on 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.
Now how much are you expecting the necklace 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!
REASON #5: Your sales techniques could use some help
Selling can feel uncomfortable and awkward. Shoppers can see for themselves what the product is, so why do you need to explain it?
Trust me, knowing the right things to say when shoppers are at your craft show table can have a significant impact on your sales.
Sales techniques 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?
But you might buy a new knitted hat because the vendor has displayed it in a way shows how beautiful the color looks with a navy winter jacket, how cozy it looks when the matching scarf is looped around the neck, and it makes you imagine exactly how and where you’d wear the hat.
Or, you might buy a new knitted hat because the vendor has shared an interesting story about the wool industry and why they decided to start a vegan winter accessory line. And you feel compelled to buy products that are more animal-friendly purchases.
Think about how your products are going to make a shopper’s life better.
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 your craft show display needs help, join my FREE challenge: 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY.
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!