Most people who visit a craft show are browsers.
They don’t have a need for a specific product, they don’t have anything in mind they’re looking for, they’re simply there to check things out.
Browsers can be turned into buyers, but it requires a little more effort.
Shoppers are in the buying phase when they have a need or want for a specific product.
>> if someone doesn’t have a specific need or want for a new piece of art, they’re going to browse art, unlikely to buy.
>> someone is ready to buy a new piece of art when they know they want “a piece of art to hang above their living room couch”.
People buy when they want a specific product for a specific purpose.
The browser is far away from the buying stage because they have no idea where they’ll hang a piece of art, or even which room it’ll go in.
They may come across a piece of art they love, but if they have no idea what they’ll do with it, they’re unlikely to buy.
This is where your display comes in.
Help shoppers imagine the specific purpose your products will serve in their lives.
How to turn browsers into buyers
Shoppers ready to buy have a specific desire for a product and know the specific purpose it will have in their lives (i.e. not “art for the home” but rather “living room art for a modern farmhouse style home”).
Since browsers don’t already have a specific desire for your product, you must create one.
Help shoppers fill in the details that surround your product.
For example, if you see a winter hat you like, but you’re not quite sure how it will fit into your wardrobe, how it will look on you, what it will be worn with, etc. you’re less likely to buy.
But if instead, you see a winter hat:
- Grouped in a color story – you can imagine which color of jacket and scarf it will look great with.
- On a head-form – you can see how the hat fits; if it’s fitted or slouchy, or whether the pom-pom sits on the top of the head or flops down.
- Photographed on a model (with bright red lipstick, rosy cheeks, wearing her hair in a braid, and holding a Starbucks coffee) – you can imagine where you’ll wear the hat (to go grab coffee), how you might wear your hair, and even the color of lipstick you might wear.
- Next to a bust-form wearing the matching scarf over a winter jacket – you can put the whole picture together and imagine how the hat will look with the scarf.
Instead of simply seeing a “winter hat”, you’re able to put all the details together and imagine how that hat might look in your life.
Craft show shoppers know the general purpose your products serve. E.g.:
>> art is for decorating walls
>> soap is for cleaning the skin
>> hats are for wearing on the head
This is the message you send if you simply set your products on a table without any other context.
Get detailed when you think about your products in customers’ lives.
>> What type of home do you imagine your art in? What room might it be hung in? What type of decor will surround it?
>> How will your soap make your customers’ skin feel? What will the scent make them think of? How do the ingredients benefit them?
>> Where do you imagine customers’ wearing your hats? What type of outfit do you imagine them wearing it with? How will they wear their hair? What type of earrings will they wear with the hat?
If you don’t know what type of outfit your accessories will be worn with, or why your bar of soap is better than Dove and how different it will make the skin feel, or what type of decor will surround your paintings, how can you expect shoppers to?
You need to fill in the details for them.
Paint the entire picture for shoppers so they don’t have to struggle to find a reason to buy your products.
How to paint a picture
Once you determine the picture you want to paint, then you can use different display elements to help communicate the details.
1 – PROPS
Think about what type of objects will surround your products when customers are using them, and if they can work as props in your display.
Props don’t have to be extravagant to tell a story.
For example, bouquets of pastel-colored flowers with sprigs of eucalyptus tell a feminine story and might help a shopper imagine:
>> feeling feminine when using bath and body products
>> being at a romantic wedding when wearing an accessory
>> a piece of art fitting perfectly into a feminine space with a boho vibe
Think about where your products will be worn, or used, or displayed, and the feeling you want customers to have.
Then think about simple props that will help communicate that message.
2 – PHOTOGRAPHS
Many craft show tables/booths are too small to replicate the setting in which a product may be used.
This is where photographs are essential.
Take photos of your products in the setting you imagine customers using them in.
For example, a photograph of a hat worn in a winter setting, creating the desired look from head to toe. How do your customers want to look? Do they want that “Instagram model” look with a Canada Goose parka, braided hair, aviator sunglasses, and Sorel boots? Or are your customers more into a hipster look with a flannel shirt layered under an oversized cardigan and paired with Doc Martens?
Get clear on your target market and use photos to fill in every little detail so shoppers don’t have to imagine anything.
A bath and body vendor may take photos of a bathtub filled with steamy water, surrounded by flickering candles, and a book and glass of wine sitting on top of a bath tray.
An artist may photograph their art hanging in a home, with styled objects around them.
3 – PRODUCT GROUPINGS
Create product groupings within your display to help convey a message.
For example, grouping pastel pink, light grey, and cream together tells a feminine story. It can help shoppers imagine what colors they might pair products with.
A bath and body vendor may tell a story of moisturizing dry winter skin by grouping all their moisturizing products together (e.g. moisturizing lip balm, face cream, hand cream, and foot cream).
I explain product groupings in more detail under point #2 in this article: 3 Quick & Easy Craft Show Display Tricks to Stand Out
4 – SIGNAGE & SALES PITCH
Some ideas are easier to convey through words, rather than visual elements.
At a craft show, it’s okay to give products unique names to help communicate an idea (I don’t recommend getting cute with product names online…that’s bad for SEO (search engine optimization)).
Adding a sign that reads “Starbucks-Run Slouchy Hat” will immediately help shoppers imagine wearing the hat when they’re running out to grab coffee.
Shoppers aren’t going to stand at your table and read a paragraph of text, so keep messages clear and concise.
Artwork that incorporates fish may not immediately conjure up ideas of where it should be hung, but a sign that reads “Man Cave Art” helps shoppers visualize what type of room it would look great in, or who they might buy it for.
When a shopper is engaging with an item, and you have time to speak with them, be sure to share your detailed vision for the product.
Through a sales pitch, “Man Cave Art” can expand to “I put one of those fish paintings in my husband’s man cave and hung a fishing rod above it”.
You’re able to provide more details and ask questions to determine which pieces are missing in the shopper’s vision for the product.
Don’t assume shoppers know what to do with your products. They may understand the general use of them, but help them fill in the little details so they can’t imagine their lives without them.
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!