When you get accepted to a craft show, what’s the first thing you start thinking about?
Usually, what you’re going to make for the event and how much of it you need.
Many vendors figure:
If I make a great product, people will like it and buy. I don’t have to worry about the display; the product will speak for itself.
But unfortunately, a great product is not enough to make people buy.
There are millions of great handmade products on the market, all competing for our money. But we only choose to spend it on a select few.
What surrounds your product helps encourage sales, but often, craft show displays fail to encourage a sale for one main reason:
THEY DON’T INSTANTLY TELL SHOPPERS WHAT THE VENDOR DOES
(*I’m not yelling…just making sure the answer to the article’s title stands out;)
NOT: what they make.
But what they do.
What’s the difference? Let me explain.
WHY SELLING A GREAT PRODUCT ISN’T ENOUGH
Think about when you’ve stopped by a craft show, farmers’ market, or browsed the vendor tents at a festival.
Did you head there for something specific?
Unless you were going to pick up veggies at the local farmers’ market, you probably didn’t have a shopping list.
Most people head to craft shows and markets as an activity; to get out and perhaps discover some cool products.
But very rarely do they head to a craft show and think; I need to find this specific item for this specific occasion.
Shoppers are at a craft show to browse.
They tend to make impulse purchases.
But to buy an item on impulse, something must stand out and make the shopper feel like they have to have it now.
Most products don’t do that on their own. Especially when we all have a: pair of earrings, bar of soap, scarf, etc. at home and don’t particularly need a new one.
Products need help telling their story and letting consumers know WHY they’re more deserving of their money than all the other options out there.
If EOS lip balm ingredients were put into regular tubes and the packaging didn’t communicate the natural organic ingredients, would millions of people have bought their product when they already had a tube of lip balm in their purse?
If Taco Bell sold tacos alongside burgers and pasta, offered ketchup packets instead of hot sauce, and didn’t encourage us to “think outside the bun” or to “run for the border”, would they be a go-to fast-food option for people craving Mexican food?
If BMW sold their cars with the same bells and whistles but didn’t position their vehicles as a status symbol of luxury, would as many people strive to afford one?
There’s more to why we buy the products we buy than the products themselves.
Your craft show display must convey that.
WHY CRAFT SHOW SHOPPERS NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU DO…INSTANTLY
We live in a distracting world with unlimited options.
Online shopping has taken over because it’s quick, easy, and convenient.
But even online, if a shopper doesn’t understand what a website sells or feel attracted to the colors, images, and text within 3 seconds, they’ll leave the website.
People have enough distractions, things to consume and items to buy that they won’t bother with businesses they don’t have an immediate attraction to or understanding of.
They also don’t forget about the fast-paced, convenience-driven world we live in just because they step into a craft show.
Many craft show shoppers are the same easily distracted, short-on-time people who are attached to their phones and like to shop online.
When they see a craft show table that doesn’t immediately draw them in, they’re likely to keep walking.
BUT I MAKE SALES AND I DON’T HAVE AN ELABORATE DISPLAY
Of course you don’t need to enhance your craft show display and can simply set your products on a table, add price tags, and make sales.
But the difference between a well-thought-out display that instantly communicates information consumers need to know, and one that simply displays a product is: more sales.
- More people stopping by your table and understanding why they should buy your product over the one down the aisle or the one at the mall.
- More people feeling like they need your product in their lives.
- More people remembering your business and buying long after a craft show is over.
HOW TO INSTANTLY TELL CRAFT SHOW SHOPPERS WHAT YOU DO
You don’t have to get it all done and have your display perfected for your next craft show. You can slowly work these elements in.
Your business and craft show display will always be a work in progress, so take it one step at a time.
STEP 1 – WHAT YOU SELL MUST BE CLEAR
That means, your craft show table should NOT say:
I sell a little bit of this, a bit of that, a few of these once and a while…I tried making this and am going to see if it sells….one time I made one of these…it didn’t sell so it’s on the corner of the table and marked down…
It should be clear; you make X and are awesome at it.
See if you can fill in these blanks and clearly define your business with one sentence:
I make ____________ (style, type, material, etc.) ____________________ (category of product) for ___________________ (specific type of person).
I make traditional wooden toys for toddlers.
I make zodiac-shaped jewelry for women interested in astrology.
I make quirky cat art for cat-lovers.
I make leather and waxed canvas briefcases for businessmen who have a unique sense of style.
I make food-based skincare products for women who don’t put anything ON their body they wouldn’t put IN it.
When you can write a clear sentence that covers everything you do, it’s easier to get your message across to shoppers, and quickly.
You may also be able to look within your current product offering, eliminate products, and create a clearly defined product line.
For example, a bath and body vendor currently selling a wide range of soaps, lotions, bath products, essential oils, etc. in a variety of scents and ingredients may notice a common theme among some of their products; raw honey as an ingredient. If sales stats supported it, they may consider eliminating (or vastly reducing) the products that don’t contain honey and defining what they sell as:
I make raw honey-based bath & body products for women with dry aging skin.
STEP 2 – WHAT YOU DO DIFFERENTLY MUST BE CLEAR
Being able to clearly define what you make won’t matter if you’re making it the same way everyone else does.
We buy from businesses offering something different; when they seem more catered to our needs.
If several businesses are selling wooden toys for toddlers, consumers tend to go with the most convenient and cheapest option.
For one wooden toy business to get me to buy from them, they have to seem like a better fit for me.
If I were their ideal customer, they would be targeting people who:
- Don’t have kids of their own
- Are buying toys as gifts
- Don’t have a clue what 3 year olds want for their birthdays or what parents want them to receive
- Avoid places like Toys-R-Us at all costs
- Want shopping and gifting to be as easy as possible
- Want to show the parents they care about their child
One wooden toy business may capture me as a customer by doing the following differently than other wooden toy businesses:
- Organize products by “gifts for 2 year olds”, “gifts for 3 year olds” etc. for easy shopping
- Bundle toys together to create an impressive gift that I don’t have to think about, search for, make several stops, etc.
- Use marketing copy such as: “Have a kid’s birthday party coming up but no clue what to buy?” (that speaks directly to me and immediately grabs my attention)
- Offer gift wrapping and card options (I don’t have kid’s wrapping paper/cards on hand)
- Tell me why a specific wooden toy makes a great gift for a 3-year-old because I have no clue what learning stage their at or what kids are into (e.g. “This wooden food set helps teach toddlers the importance of healthy food, while sparking their creativity during playtime. Each piece is durable, painted with non-toxic paint, and fits within a wooden crate for easy cleanup and storage.” Perfect! Something mom and kid will like and isn’t another random stuffed toy that will end up at the bottom of a pile in a matter of weeks.)
If a simple search on Google, Etsy, or walk through a craft show tells you several other businesses are offering a similar product to yours, in a similar way, you may need to uncover what’s unique about your products, or tweak your products/business to create a unique angle.
STEP 3 – YOU MUST TELL SHOPPERS WHERE YOU’LL TAKE THEM
Consumers want to be taken somewhere new when they spend their money. Transported to a better place for a moment, become a better version of themselves, be viewed a different way, etc.
- They want a fine dining experience and to have a break from their hectic lives, screaming kids, or doing all the cooking and cleaning.
- They want clear, glowing skin when they buy a new skincare product.
- They want the feeling of health when they grab a new cookbook, buy healthy foods, or join a gym.
- They want the feeling of pride when they hand someone their birthday gift or the title of “best gift-giver” at a party.
- They want to be known as a hip person who always discovers the coolest products, bands, events, etc.
There’s a reason behind every purchase we make. We may not admit the motive to other people, but there’s a thought pattern that goes on before we buy.
Not many will say “I want my gift to be the best one at the party and for the birthday girl to appreciate mine the most and for everyone to think I’m the most thoughtful person.” But I bet a lot of people think that when trying to decide on a gift.
Even when purchasing something as simple as gum, there’s more going on than “I need gum”. One might think:
I don’t want to be known as that person with bad breath, but I love eating garlic with each meal…it’s so healthy. You can also smell it for hours after I eat. I don’t feel confident with my breath unless I’ve just brushed my teeth or am chewing on a stick of gum.
Now imagine seeing a pack of gum on the shelf with the description/tagline:
“Just-brushed-your-teeth freshness for hours”
“Garlic is no match for this gum”
“Be breath-confident…even after eating garlic”
This consumer wants to be taken to a place of being confident with their breath when talking to a colleague after eating a garlicky Caesar salad for lunch, and this gum is promising to take them there. They’re going to choose it over Trident’s gum, which is offering to take them to flavor-town.
Think about who is buying your products the majority of the time; that’s your ideal customer. There will be people who don’t fall within that description that still buy, but your ideal customer is who you want to focus on.
Where do they want to be taken by wearing/using/displaying/consuming/gifting your product?
The maker of wooden toys may have a mom of a toddler as an ideal customer and that mom may want to see their child use their creativity and enjoy playtime without the use of electronics.
The maker of zodiac-shaped jewelry may have female Millennials as their ideal customer who want to be more spiritual. Their jewelry helps take them to a more spiritual place by reminding them there is something bigger out there guiding them. (*just an example, I’m not really sure on the details of astrology;)
The maker of quirky cat art may have male cat-lovers as their ideal customer who want to show their unique sense of style through art. They want people to notice what a quirky sense of decorating style he has when they visit his home and to always ask, “Where in the world did you find that piece of art?”
The maker of leather briefcases may have a professional businessman who loves fashion as their ideal customer. They don’t want to walk downtown and have the same style of bag as every other man; they want to stand out. They imagine strangers turning their heads and noticing their sense of style and colleagues asking, “Where did you get your bag?”
The maker of food-based skincare products has a mature woman who wants to be the epitome of health, inside and out, and isn’t worried about the price tag. They want people to constantly ask, “What do you use for your skin?” because it doesn’t look its age.
You’ve defined what you sell, what you do differently and the new, positive and exciting place your products are going to take customers.
But how do you communicate that information instantly?
So that every shopper “gets it” as soon as they look at your space.
You do so with…
The information you uncovered using this article will help shape your brand.
And your brand should come through in every part of your business. From the colors you use in your craft show display, to the font and language of your signage, and the props and pictures you use. The way you speak, the design of your website, the tagline on your business card…this should all align with your brand.
Here’s an image from HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY to help explain what your brand is.
Your brand encompasses and communicates your business’ message, which is sums up your business’ USP (unique selling position) and identity (how it looks, behaves and sounds).
If you need help figuring out how to infuse your brand into your craft show booth, you’ll find instructions in MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS: CREATING A POWERFUL DISPLAY.
5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY will also help get you started.
How to define your brand, more details explaining the brand graphic above and how to communicate your brand in ALL areas of your business is found in HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY, which has an entire chapter on branding, worksheets and checklist for where to apply your brand.
Feel free to share what you do in the comment section. Fill in the blanks: I sell _______________(style, type, material, etc.) ____________________ (category of product) for ___________________ (specific type of person) and tell me 🙂