By Linda K Murdock
You might feel that it is up to the organizer to promote the show and guarantee a large attendance. Yes, they can let local newspapers or media know, and they can get their name out on websites with craft show listings. If you are lucky, they are an established show that has a reputation of bringing in the buying public year after year. However, there are things you can do for craft show preparation. If you are willing to make crafts and sell them without being paid for your time, aren't you also willing to get the word out, so that you can increase the odds of someone coming to buy your creative treasures?
Use Handouts to Boost Attendance
Organizers may give you flyers with the basic information about your upcoming show. If not, create some of your own and try to get the biggest exposure for each copy. Instead of handing one to a single friend, pass it around at the next Meetup gathering you attend, so all can see and record it on their calendars. Ask them to spread the word or tell their friends. Sometimes you can get the Meetup organizer to allow you to post it on their Meetup site, for even more exposure. Remember you aren't selling anything; you are just promoting an event. Instead of handing a flyer to a single co-worker, how about posting it on your employer's bulletin board at work for all to see? If you or your family members belong to a school, church, business, recreation center, organization, social club, etc. have everyone pitch in and get the word out. Think of it as a more direct use of social media and ask your children, if appropriate, to help get the word out. All of this can get you excited about your craft show preparation, as if you are doing your best to make it a success.
Alert Customers and/or Followers About the Show
If you keep track of local customers, that is, those who have already purchased items from you, don't forget to invite them to the event. Give them a reason to come with the enticement of a discount coupon or send them a photo of some of the new items you have added to your list of creative talents. That way they will know there are new things to see. Sometimes you have followers instead of customers on your website. Keep local followers, especially those from Colorado, informed of upcoming shows and send out reminders as the day of the event approaches. It's time for that social media and/or website to earn its keep! Email nearby Etsy followers and post the craft shows you will be attending on Etsy as part of each craft show preparation.
Preview Your Display
Now that everyone you know is aware of your upcoming show, how do you go about your craft show preparation? Set up your booth in your house to see what it looks like from the customer's point of view. Last year I hung my little stuffed animals from three tiers of rope between 2 posts as usual and noticed that I didn't really see the animals because of all the stuff in the background. I took a pillowcase and placed it between the posts, so there was a solid white, non-distracting background and my customers could focus on my animals. Many craft show setups have you back to back with another crafter. If they have high shelves or shiny lights it could keep potential customers from focusing on you and your art. If you can afford it and have the space, creating a backdrop can keep your customers focused on your art.
Have Flyers and Business Cards On Hand
When I go to a show as a buyer, and it has over a hundred booths, I'm a little fried by the end and don't want to go back for whatever I missed. That is why a business card stating what you do or a postcard with a photo of your craft is so important. It may not guarantee a sale, but it could get you mentioned in a blog. Likewise, an explanation of your craft and how or why you do it can be a way to engage with your customers without any hard selling. Curiosity might just get him or her talking and buying.
I can't tell you how many times I've looked at a crafter's artwork and turned away because the price was nowhere to be seen. If I like something, I want to know what it costs. I don't want to think that the crafter gives me one price and then sells the same thing for a different price to someone else. Tags are cheap and labels are easy to print out. Price tags look more professional, as if you've spent time on your display. Be careful, however, that they don't outshine your art. I was once at a show and looked at a jewelry display of naturally colored stones in white, beiges and grays. The only thing I saw was the name of the business on bright blue signs throughout the display. The tags had prices, but they literally outshone the jewelry.
Make your Show Prosperous
There are many ways to make your craft show experience a prosperous one. Even if organizers do their best, you can't always be assured it will be well attended. There might be other shows or a Broncos game that same weekend. Don't waste your time stewing. Use it to network with other crafters to find out about better shows and better experiences. Let them critique your display. Take photos of your display, so you can take a good critical look at it later or post it in a blog. Note displays that you like and try to figure out why it appeals to you. Is it the product, the color, the use of space and overall organization, the signage?
Practice Good Crafter Etiquette
It might seem obvious, but part of craft show preparation is to practice good crafter etiquette. Yes, it is tacky to eat in front of customers. They are less likely to engage with you, if they think they are interrupting your meal. There is always a lull during a show. That is when you can grab something to eat or sneak a bite. Likewise, there are crafters, who do their craft throughout the show. I go to a show to sell my work and, since I'm not selling teaching guides or classes, I like to take a more active role in engaging with my customers. Do whatever brings in the most sales for you, but don't be afraid to try both ways. Mingle, converse, network, but never at the expense of another crafter, who just might be selling like crazy. Just listen and learn.
Copyright 2015 by Linda K Murdock. Linda Murdock owns her own business, has written 4 books and blogs about Colorado and its crafty people. To find more tips on craft show preparation, read her full article at http://lindakmurdock.com/
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