I know I share a LOT of rules, tips, ideas, and ways for a craft show display to sell more. And you should definitely experiment with your display to see what increases sales for your business.
(I’ve included a list of articles that share ideas for your craft show display and mistakes to avoid at the end of this article.)
But I thought about the one thing that could make or break a craft show booth.
>> The one thing every craft show display should have.
>> The one thing, even if it was the only best practice you implemented, would still bring you success.
>> The one thing, if ignored, would make success harder.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you neglect every other area of a craft show display, but this is one rule your craft show display should always follow, first and foremost.
THE #1 RULE IS…
Your craft show display needs a purpose
What I mean by purpose is, it must give shoppers a reason to buy.
Displaying nice things isn’t enough.
We’re presented with beautiful products every day. They’re showing up (uninvited) in our social media feeds, are being marketed to us through our email accounts, advertised on the blogs we read, etc.
Nice things are everywhere.
But we can’t buy every item we think is nice; we need a better reason.
Your craft show display should communicate that reason.
That reason should:
>> Make people feel good about purchasing (e.g. they’re not just adding to a pile of stuff, there’s a purpose for buying)
>> Remove guilt (e.g. I really don’t need another pair of earrings…I’d better not).
>> Remove doubt (e.g. I have so many jars of unused cream at home, how will this one be different?)
Make them feel they’d regret not buying from you today.
Does your craft show display give shoppers a clear and logical reason to purchase from you today?
If not, keep reading 🙂
UNCOVERING AN EXISTING PURPOSE
In the best-case scenario, your products and brand won’t require adjustments and you can simply build a display that supports the purpose your products already serve.
Think of your purpose as: what you do differently or better than your competitors
That “different” or “better” than might be:
- Selling soap (what many businesses do) shaped and scented like cakes and cupcakes and sold in sets for birthday party favors (different)
- Selling scarves (what many businesses do) hand woven with the highest quality of cashmere wool (better)
- Selling jewelry (what many businesses do) sold as sets and packaged in gift boxes to make the perfect bridesmaid gifts (different) or that can be customized with names and dates (better)
- Selling candles (what many businesses do) that are designed to help realign the 7 chakras (different)
- Selling tutus & onesies (what many businesses do) that are created for 1 & 2-year-old girls’ birthday cake smash photography sessions (different)
If you know your purpose, you can then adapt elements of your display to help communicate it.
Let’s say I have a handmade business that sells tutus and onesies for 1-year-old and 2-year-old girls. Lots of businesses sell tutus and onesies, but I create mine specifically for cake smash photos.
Tutus and onesies displayed in my craft show space may not clearly communicate “birthday party cake smash outfit” on their own. The display elements that surround my products must add some context.
You want shoppers to immediately “get” what you’re offering and why it’s better or different.
Using my craft show display to communicate the purpose of my business (e.g. to provide outfits for little girls’ first and second birthdays, which coordinate with the party décor) I may include the following:
- Add balloons and streamers to signify a party.
- Add an enlarged photo of a 1-year-old wearing a tutu and onesie during a cake smash photography session.
- Display tutus and onesies in color collections to show how customers can match the color of the tutu to the party décor.
- I could even add a birthday cake (either a plastic prop or freeze a real cake and keep it under a glass cake dome) on a cake stand to really drive the birthday message home.
- I could use birthday-related items as props (e.g. cake stands to display folded stacks of onesies, or wrapped presents in different sizes to create levels in my display, which I could also display products on).
My space would look like the setting for a 1 or 2-year-old girl’s birthday party.
I could go as simple (add pink and white balloons to each end of the table, use a pink tablecloth, and add a couple of photos of my products worn during cake smashes), or as extravagant (by adding every element listed above), as I wanted.
Consider your business’s or product’s purpose and how you can communicate it through the following display elements:
- Signage (e.g. the keywords you use and features you point out that align with your purpose)
- Layout (i.e. using zones to display collections, which each communicate a story) (here’s an article on how to create the perfect layout on your table)
- Stock (don’t bring everything you can make; plan stock strategically to communicate your reason. Here’s the problem with offering too many options (hint, it decreases sales) and how to know if you have too many products on your craft show table)
On top of that, craft a sales pitch that points out the benefits of buying your products (tips on that at the end of this article).
FINDING A NEW PURPOSE
In some cases, your products and brand may require some adjustments to find an angle that gives shoppers a valid reason to buy from you.
If you’re not sure what makes your products or business better or different, consider the following 3 questions to look for opportunities that set you apart from competitors.
1) WHICH SHOPPERS HAVE BEEN IGNORED?
The norms have been taken care of for years. Consumers who can fit into size 6, pull off the same styles as celebrities, use a bar of Dove soap to wash their face, buy products without worrying about where or how they’re made, etc. have had no problem finding products that suit them.
If mass-produced clothes don’t fit properly, mainstream styles don’t suit them, Dove irritates the skin, or they don’t agree with the impact big companies have on the environment, there are limited options to choose from.
This is where your small business can swoop in.
For example, let’s say I have a candle business that started out by targeting women of 18 years and older.
If you’re a woman who’s over 18, would you feel compelled to buy a candle simply because it was put in front of you? How long would you stay at a craft show table that’s selling plain ol’ candles? There’s no story behind them or ingredients that make it different. There’s nothing you need to uncover or learn more about when it comes to my candles.
My candle business aimed at women 18 and older is going to fail because I haven’t chosen a profitable target market (women 18 and older isn’t really a target market at all) and it’s impossible to create a candle that gives my target market a reason to buy because “women” and “18+” isn’t enough information to go off of.
If instead, I choose to target women who have an interest in spirituality, and more specifically, in chakras, I’ve found a group of people who have been underserved.
You can’t just go to Bed, Bath & Beyond or Bath & Body Works and find a candle to help you realign your chakras.
So people who want “spiritual candles” have limited options.
When I narrow my target market down even further (based on demographics, psychographics, personal preferences, and physical attributes (e.g. scent sensitivities)) I can tailor my candles, even more, create a signature style and be the ONLY option for people who want spiritual candles with my signature style.
It also gives me an opportunity to become known as an expert in the field of chakra candles. People who stop at my table will have questions about chakra candles, what they do, which one to use, how to use them, when to use them, etc. I have an opportunity to educate shoppers who stop at my table.
The more time a shopper spends at your craft show table, engaging with you and your brand, the more committed they become to buying.
Consumers may not even be aware their needs haven’t been served. If a product doesn’t exist, we don’t know we need it.
By simply showing craft show shoppers there are other options aside from what’s found in big box stores, you’re changing their shopping habits.
But when you offer similar options to what they can find in big box stores or major retailers, they’re probably going to go with the cheaper more reputable option. They’re unfamiliar with your business and don’t know if it’ll still be around if they happen to have an issue with your product.
When you offer something consumers can’t find in a big box store, they’re forced (in a good way;) to buy from you.
>> Find a profitable target market (e.g. Spiritual)
>> Find a smaller group of people within that market (e.g. Spiritual -> Chakras)
>> Offer products for them (e.g. Chakra candles)
Check out HOW TO FIND A GOLDMINE OF CUSTOMERS for help with finding a profitable target market.
2) WHAT ARE YOUR TARGET MARKET’S HIGHS AND LOWS?
When you know the customer you’re serving through your craft business, you can better understand the reasons behind their purchases.
You can imagine the scenarios they’re dreaming about, the solutions they’d be ecstatic to find, or the features they’d give a 5-star review for.
On the other side, you can also imagine what they stress about, their frustrations, or why they might give a 1-star review.
These are their highs (positive scenarios) and lows (negative scenarios).
If you choose a broad target market (e.g. women in their 30’s), it’s very hard to get to know them.
>> What topics are they creating Pinterest boards for?
>> What are they stressed about?
I’m a woman in her 30’s. I have Pinterest boards on everything from Paleo desserts to cat memes. I get stressed about everything from my skin to my business.
How would you adapt your products and business to be a perfect fit for me, using only that information? (I’m a woman and I’m in my 30’s)
Using my example candle business, how could I possibly know what to say to sell a candle to a woman like me? Do I point out how some of my candles smell like desserts? Do I point out how candles can help relieve stress? What kind of stress?
That definition of a customer (woman in her 30’s) is too broad and vague so my products and messaging are also vague/non-descript.
When I target a woman who’s interested in healing her chakras, I know:
>> She definitely has a Pinterest board full of information on chakras (highs – things she aspires to do/be/have)
>> She relates her stress and ailments to one of her 7 chakras and focuses on that chakra to relieve it. She heals her crown chakra when she feels disconnected, she works on her throat chakra when she’s having trouble with communication, etc. (lows – things she wants to avoid/solve/fix).
Now I can create candles that are perfect for my target market (e.g. 7 candles for each chakra).
I can also create a craft show display that speaks to my target market. Using symbols of balanced chakras (the highs they want to achieve) and signage that speaks to blocked or unbalanced chakras (the lows they want to avoid).
What I speak about also helps me create connections by being specific when it comes to the highs and lows my shoppers experience.
“Do you feel stressed? A candle can help” doesn’t connect with anyone.
We’re all stressed and most people don’t believe a candle can take our worries away. No one is thinking: “Wow, I do feel stressed. This business really gets me!”
Instead, when I’ve attracted my target market to my craft show table and they pick up a throat chakra candle, I can say:
“Are you having trouble communicating your thoughts lately? Your throat chakra may be misaligned. This jasmine scented candle with aquamarine crystals can help realign it.”
Although it may not connect with everyone, it touches on the highs and lows of my target market.
People who are right for my business will get it, feel connected, and be more likely to buy. I don’t have to sell them on my candles.
It also weeds out the people who will never buy from me. I don’t spend precious time trying to convince someone to buy my candles; they’re either interested in chakra healing or they’re not. Those who are not will leave my space quickly, making room for those who are a fit.
>> Know who you’re serving and their specific highs and lows (*as it relates to your products)(e.g. having aligned chakras and healing misaligned chakras).
>> Create a craft show display that speaks to their highs and lows.
>> Communicate how your business can help them achieve their highs (e.g. aligned chakras) or avoid their lows (e.g. blocked throat chakra that makes communication difficult).
* The highs and lows you uncover about your customers must relate to your products. Knowing my customer has created a board for Paleo desserts doesn’t help me sell chakra candles.
3) WHAT HAVEN’T SHOPPERS SEEN?
Craft show shoppers have likely been to a craft show before. They may go to most of the craft shows in their city/town. They likely also shop on Etsy, visit farmers’ markets and support local boutiques.
That tends to be the type of shopper craft shows attract.
Regardless of whether your shoppers have been to a craft show or not, the people who will see your craft show table have seen soap, earrings, scarves, etc. before. They’ve seen them at their favorite stores in the mall, they’ve seen them on Etsy…they probably even know someone who can make one for them.
If what you’re displaying in your space doesn’t seem much different than what they’ve already seen, they won’t feel as compelled to buy.
Your craft business and craft show display are your opportunities to get creative.
I’m not just talking about coming up with original designs; that’s not different enough for shoppers. They can go to the mall and find 100 variations of earrings, or bars of soaps, or knitted scarves, etc.
Your differentiator doesn’t have to be something that no other business is doing. It just can’t be the norm or what consumers expect.
>> Cleaning the skin is what every bar of soap does and is what consumers expect from all soaps.
There are many brands that use natural ingredients to gently cleanse the skin but the ones that highlight that feature are the ones that become known for it.
>> Jewelry is supposed to be beautiful and most people don’t want to wear the same pieces everyone is wearing. So highlighting the unique and beautiful features of your jewelry are moot points.
Not every jewelry business offers sets for bridesmaids that create a cohesive look while being unique for each bridesmaid.
Of course, most jewelry businesses could gather 5 necklaces from within a collection and sell them together as bridesmaid gifts, but the business that creates collections specifically for bridesmaids and presents them as such becomes known for it.
Consider what the norm is when it comes to products in your category and the basics a consumer expects (e.g. they expect soap to clean, they expect jewelry to be beautiful). Don’t spend your time pointing out or highlighting those features. Find elements that offer something consumers don’t expect or see everywhere.
>> Know your industry and competition so you can zig where they zag.
>> Alter your products and business to align with a better or different purpose than competitors are offering.
>> Highlight the elements that make your products or business different or better, at every opportunity.
CREATING YOUR DISPLAY
Once you know your craft show display’s purpose (the reason shoppers should buy from you over your competitors or a store in the mall), you can build a display around it.
I’ve shared tips for doing so in this article, but you may also find the following helpful:
- 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY
- HOW TO STAND OUT AT A CRAFT SHOW WITH THESE DISPLAY TRICKS
- WHY YOU’RE LOOKING AT YOUR CRAFT SHOW SETUP WRONG
- 3 STEPS TO IMPROVE SALES PITCHES AT CRAFT SHOWS
- HOW TO ASK FOR THE SALE AT A CRAFT SHOW
- 3 TIPS TO AVOID AWKWARD SHOPPER SILENCE AT A CRAFT SHOW
OTHER CRAFT SHOW RULES TO FOLLOW:
- 5 MISTAKES TO AVOID AT A CRAFT SHOW
- 5 THINGS A SHOPPER SHOULDN’T SEE AT A CRAFT SHOW
- 1 STEP MOST CRAFT SHOW VENDORS FORGET FOR INCREASING SALES
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE:
- HOW TO USE COLOR AT A CRAFT SHOW TO ATTRACT SHOPPERS
- 50 PROP IDEAS FOR YOUR CRAFT SHOW DISPLAY
- CRAFT SHOW TABLE LAYOUT TIPS
- HOW TO EASILY INCREASE CRAFT SHOW SALES BY 27%
- HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE OFFERING TOO MANY PRODUCTS
- HOW TO CREATE A SIGNATURE STYLE FOR YOUR HANDMADE PRODUCTS
- HOW TO FIND A GOLDMINE OF CUSTOMERS
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!