Craft shows attract a variety of shoppers, but the majority of them aren’t on the hunt for a specific product.
Most people don’t need another bar of soap, or pair of earrings, or another piece of art.
So when shoppers stroll the aisles of a craft show and simply see stacks of soap on a table, or rows of earrings, or clusters of art, they don’t feel inclined to stop.
Those craft show displays are simply giving shoppers a vague idea of what the seller makes.
Most craft show displays fail to clearly communicate what’s different about the products in it and why the shopper needs to stop and check them out.
What you make & Why you make it
There was a reason you started your business right? You’re not simply making soap, or jewelry, or art because you’re capable of doing so.
You started your business because you knew you could offer something better or different than what’s out there.
That reason is the story behind what you do.
And it matters to shoppers.
Your craft show display should clearly communicate:
- What you make
- Why you make it
1) What you make
What you make seems straightforward. But there are ways you can muddy the message and turn shoppers off.
Shoppers must be able to quickly, easily, and clearly define what you make.
You’re running a SMALL business.
When people shop with a handmade business, they want to feel like they’re shopping with a boutique business (i.e. a business servicing a small segment of the market and offering a specialized product or service).
The BEST handmade businesses make one thing and they make it well.
“One thing” may be defined in a few ways:
- One category of product – such as art
- One subcategory of product – such as paintings
- One sub-subcategory of product – such as watercolor paintings
How niche you go depends on what you can do exceptionally well.
For example, an experienced artist may offer art in a variety of mediums (e.g. charcoal, acrylic paint, watercolor, etc.). While some artists focus on perfecting their craft using one medium (e.g. watercolor).
Both business models can be successful. It just comes down to the business owner’s capability to create a cohesive product line.
Unfortunately, many handmade business owners start offering too many types of products without thinking about how they all work together and target the same customer (here’s how to know if you should scale back).
Shoppers need to feel like they can trust you, the seller.
If a shopper sees a booth full of home decor items, but none of them work together, they’ll wonder if the seller actually knows anything about good home design. The same applies to other products such as accessories. If a shopper sees a table of jewelry but nothing really matches, they’re probably not going to trust the seller’s sense of style.
And if a table is selling beautiful and well-quality crafted jewelry but mediocre art and knitted goods with uneven stitches, the art and knitted items are going to make shoppers question the quality of the jewelry.
Creating a cohesive line of products that all work together, are high quality, and share the same signature style, builds trust with shoppers and suggests you’re an expert at your craft.
The TYPE of product should also be clear to customers.
It’s not enough to simply sell jewelry, soap, or art.
What kind of jewelry, soap, or art do you sell?
Your product selection should tell shoppers what you SPECIALIZE in.
For example, there are a lot of people and businesses selling art. A vendor’s products should let shoppers know what kind of art they make.
That may be:
>> Nursery art
>> Abstract paintings
>> Floral watercolor paintings
The more your products stay within a niche (e.g. floral watercolor paintings for nurseries), the clearer your message is and the faster shoppers will receive it.
The more you add to your selection, the muddier the message gets.
And if shoppers aren’t clear on what you do well or if it’s right for them, they won’t buy.
A grouping of similar products tells a (specific) story; one product surrounded by a mix of different products doesn’t. A story helps shoppers imagine your products in their lives (here’s why that’s incredibly important).
For example, a table full of floral nursery-themed art tells a story of a beautiful, feminine, soft & airy nursery. On the other hand, a table full of art using mixed mediums and subjects simply says “art”; shoppers don’t get a clear idea of where they’ll hang that art or who it’s for.
Ideally, as shoppers are approaching your booth, your products will tell shoppers specifically what you make.
However, some product details aren’t as obvious at first glance.
For example, bars of soap made with natural and organic ingredients may not look much different than a regular bar of soap.
If the type of product you make is not obvious at first glance, use display elements and signage to communicate that message.
A vendor selling bars of soap made with organic ingredients may communicate “natural” by displaying their soaps on top of rustic slices of wood and using fake grass as their tablecloth. A sign hanging in the space may read “Organic ingredients straight from Mother Nature”.
Does your craft show display clearly tell shoppers what you sell?
Here’s the real test.
When a shopper sees your craft show booth, are they able to clearly determine “they make ______ (type of) ______”?
Meaning, can someone look at your table and easily summarize the type of product you specialize in?
>> they make wire-wrapped jewelry
>> they make flower-infused soap
>> they make chunky knit winter hats
Or, are they looking at your table and thinking:
>> They make all kinds of jewelry, a few bookmarks, some knitted goods, and paintings.
Don’t send mixed messages to shoppers through your product selection.
2. Why you make it
Defining why you started your business and what you do differently or better than your competitors may require more effort.
To answer this question, it’s actually better to think about your customer (not yourself).
First, you should know specifically who your customers are (i.e. who’s your target market).
You need to have a clear understanding of who you’re making products for.
Then, think about the ultimate benefit your products provide to customers.
If you’re not sure what that benefit is, try listing your product’s features, then explore the options consumers may want.
For example, soap product features and options may be:
- Soap product feature #1: ingredients
- Options: non-toxic, or environmentally friendly, or vegan, etc.
- Soap product feature #2: scent
- Options: unscented, or masculine scent, or floral scents, etc.
- Soap product feature #3: skin type
- Options: moisturizing, or exfoliating, etc.
Next, think about which option your target market wants most and why.
For example, a vendor selling soap may use ingredients that are natural, organic, and non-toxic. Why would a consumer want ingredients that are non-toxic? Probably because it’s safer and healthier for their skin and body.
What about art? Why would someone want floral watercolor paintings to hang in a nursery? Perhaps to create a feminine and serene space they can build memories in with their new baby.
Why might someone want a chunky knit winter hat with a pompom? It may be that it’s on-trend and they want to look stylish and fashion-forward.
Get to the bottom of what your target market hopes to get from your products and then make your craft show display exude that.
>> Organic soap – the display should feel like a healthy and pure space with lots of natural elements. It might be clean, uncluttered, and minimalistic. Dried flowers, wood elements, and a burlap or cotton tablecloth (instead of polyester) could be used. The vendor’s attire should also have a natural look (e.g. cotton top, linen pants, simple jewelry made from natural elements, etc.).
>> Floral watercolor nursery art – every element of the display should be feminine and feel serene. Muted colors, script fonts, soft textures, and perhaps even a bouquet of flowers would sit on the table with a rattle and stuffed toy. The vendor may even wear light-colored attire, and they may speak in a softer tone.
>> Trendy and fashionable winter hats – this type of display may use photographs to help shoppers visualize the trendy look from head to toe; how they might wear their hair, the type of jacket and boots they might pair the hat with, etc. The vendor should also be dressed in the latest fashion trends so shoppers trust their sense of style.
You should be able to clearly define:
>> what you sell
>> who it’s for
>> the benefit(s) your products provide
If you have a clear answer for each of those, you should have no problem creating a display that communicates what you make and why you make it.
Feel free to share what you make and why you make it in the comments. Try filling in the blanks:
I sell _____ (type) _____ (product category/subcategory/sub-subcategory) to provide _____ (benefit/desired outcome customer wants) to _____ (your target market).
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!