Hello! I am Linda Holton from Holton Handicrafts. I am partner to my hubby The Lathe Junkie, mother to two grown children, two fur babies, and four grandchildren. I love to craft and write and have a large variety of interests. On my blog I share with you my experiences and fun ideas for You, Your Pet, and Your Home with lots of other fun thrown in.
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How a craft show is marketed can make a difference to you and how much you will sell. I love when the show promoter uses social media in order to gain excitement for their show. Some shows are better than others at doing this.
One of the best shows that I know of that promotes is one that we have been a vendor at for a number of years; Mark Twain Craft Bazaar. This show is a big fundraiser for the PTO at Mark Twain Elementary in Westerville, OH. The show promoter has a website http://www.marktwaincraftbazaar.org/ that gives you basics about the show. Over the years I have also seen her create a brand for the show that helps identify it to shoppers. She also uses the website to drive traffic over to the show’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MarkTwainCraftBazaar where she has over 1100 followers. Starting at least 30 days before the bazaar, she uses the Facebook page to showcase vendors who will be at the show. This gives the shopper a chance to preview items that will be at the show. You can see our post on the right. She also set up a Facebook event for the show. This makes it easy for me to share the event on my own Facebook pages. This promotes not only the show but the fact that we are going to be there.
Don’t trust your show is going to create and event and promote it. A lot of the shows we participate in don’t. In these cases it is up to you to do the promoting. There are a variety of ways to do this that are free. Rely on the social services you already use. Create your own Facebook event, post on Instagram, or Twitter. If you have an Etsy shop promote on the Etsy Local page or on your own web site. Even if the show does promote any of these can be additional free advertising for you.
In addition to these methods, I also post pictures on Facebook of us set up at the show with an exact location of our booth. The bottom line is to market yourself and your products. A little bit of effort can make a big difference.
I know a lot of people who participate in craft shows, art fairs or even flea markets every weekend but the number of shows increases starting in September or October. Are you ready for your shows? Having a good show means more than just having adequate inventory to support the show.
Here are five things you should consider in order to be prepared.
Gather your equipment and take stock of what you have. Are there things that you are carrying around that you just don’t use? If so eliminate them. Make sure you are stocked up on basic supplies such as pens, paper, clips and anything else you use on a regular basis at a show. Condense your supplies down to just what you use so that you are carrying less.
Do a mock show set up. If you have room to do this, setting up your display in a non show setting can help you determine the best setup for you. Doing it before a show can help you get ideas to improve on what you are already doing without the pressure of the show.
Clean and maintain all of your display items. Wash and press your table cloths, wipe down all of your shelving and props. Make sure everything is in good working condition and ready to use.
Make a marketing plan. You don’t have to be a marketing expert to have a marketing plan. Push out a facebook event before the show advertising you will be there or share the event the show used. Be sure to follow up with pictures and information the day of the show. Use a signup sheet to collect email addresses from people who want to hear more about your products. Have a printed list of upcoming shows that you will be at so your customer can visit you again. And the #1 thing you can have at a show is a business card! Make sure you have plenty.
Don’t forget about selling tools. Do you use shopping bags or just old bags that you have saved from the grocery? It is well worth the investment to purchase bags. You don’t have to have expensive branded bags, just something simple. We purchased some yellow grocery type bags on closeout. Selling tools also includes your taking credit cards. Are you comfortable using your Square or PayPal app to take cards? If not practice how so you don’t have the added stress of figuring it out at a show. Don’t forget to pack that charger so you can keep your tablet or phone going to use that app all day.
Facebook is a powerful marketing tool that you can use to promote your craft business, network with other crafters, and find great shows. If you are a crafter who regularly sells their craft, I highly recommend getting yourself a business facebook page. You can see ours here Holton Handicrafts or Lathe Junkie.
A search for craft shows on Facebook, will give you information on groups in your area that support crafters. I urge you to join one or several in areas that you sell in. We sell in Michigan where we live and in Central Ohio where my daughter lives so I belong to groups that are active in both areas. Can’t find one in your area? Consider starting a group. I’m sure there are lots of other crafters that would join.
One of the groups I belong to is Central Ohio Craft Shows. The admin of this site encourages members to regularly participate by asking where they are going to be selling each week and then at the end of the weekend, asking how they did. Members can see how other members are doing and gain ideas for shows they would like to exhibit at in the future. You often see several members who have been at the same show. The admin also encourages members to ask questions on different aspects of craft shows. These types of questions always get lots of conversation and you can gain great new ideas.
Whether you are seller of vendor items or you make hand crafted items; craft shows are a great place to sell your items and promote your business. If you are new to craft shows or you have done a few, there is always room for improvement. We have been selling at shows for many years and we are always looking for ways to improve on what we are doing. Over the years we have seen many things that people do that can result in an unsuccessful show.
The Bad Show…….
It had been steadily busy all morning for me and I finally had a minute to catch my breath. I looked across the aisle and there they were, the two friends who had a large pile of linens, blankets, and other items that all looked like they would sell well. Their inventory was crammed onto a table that was covered with a plastic table cloth. Their product pricing consisted of a handwritten list that was hard to read. I had heard them lose a couple of sales because they only took cash. They had obviously worked hard to have this much inventory but they were not making that many sales. They were just sitting behind the big pile gabbing between them, answering questions and communicating with customers only when asked. At lunch time they seemed more concerned with eating than working with customers at the busiest time of the show. As the day went on the smiles I had seen at the beginning of the day had changed to frowns as they sat behind the table with their arms crossed. I saw them pack up a lot of inventory to take home at the end of the day.
Here are the 5 things they could have done better to have a successful show.......