What you have to get sorted before the show.
Words of remarkable wisdom on:
How much stock to take
Getting your display right
Checklist of what to pack
What to wear
Pre show marketing
The rule here is less is more. Do not overwhelm the customer with choice. Faced with endless decisions the customer becomes confused; loses confidence; cannot decide and ends up not buying
When customers ask do you have it in green? That is not a sale lost. You could show them a green and then they may want it smaller etc or a different green. If they like it enough they will buy it in blue.
The more stock that pounds its way too and from fairs, the more elderly it’s going to look.
If your stall is easy to set-up and easy to take-down, shows will be easier. You might not have to hire a van.
Push what you have with confidence, you don’t want to be endlessly head down searching the under the table stock for one customer while that little crowd of customers you had before evaporates .
The less you display the more expensive and special it seems
Severely edit what you take
Display is not about pretty, display is about communication Your audience has to understand at a glance what you want them too. What you need to communicate depends where you are selling. Can you take it for granted that your visitors know what you are selling is handmade by you? If not, that has to be message one.
Message two might be the material you work in, for example if you make silver jewellery you have to get across the silver bit. Having gathered those two facts the visitors will hopefully close in for a better look.
Beware of branding If you were selling washing up liquid then branding is all important, but hopefully you are not. If someone buys you want to be sure they go away with something that tells them who you are and how to buy from you again. But before they buy, it has little relevance. It can even be a sales killer.
Over branded to the distraction of the product
Handmade is one-off, by you. You are the brand. Talking about yourself is the way you brand. Your name is the name for your craft business.
Look no overt branding at this very successful open studio event but the presence of the maker
At shows the organisers provide you with a stand sign but it’s usually over the top of your stall so when people are looking at your work they can’t see that sign, so put another sign inside your stall. (At the end of the show nick the organiser’s overhead sign, cut off the stand number and you’ve got a sign for your next show)
Its important your visitors understand your offer, sometimes it’s not completely straight forward
Having criticised this stand for branding, I think they got the explanation bit bang on.
Sometimes your product itself might not be obvious and that needs addressing head on.
Heavily displaying your website on your stand can lose you sales, as visitors feel they needn’t spend their cash at the show as they can do it online anytime. Tell them about your online shop once they have purchased.
Handling the Wares
The way you display tells the audience whether they can handle your work.
this one says don’t touch
This one says pick me up
If you put a sign telling people not to touch, you won’t sell. Picking something up is the first move of ownership. You are pretty stupid if you block the first move.
How to display pricing
There are two ways to price, price at a glance or by the visitor handling the product to find the price. A mixture is probably the best route.
Always price in round figures as it makes transactions easier and it values your piece as an art work
Handwrite your prices ( it emphasises the handmade) and write them unapologetically big.
Make it obvious what you are selling
If you have a book to sell about your work pile it high up in the front (in uneven piles so it looks as if the piles are depleting) Then have a huge notice Signed copies and the price. Displays of your work featured in the book go behind that. The visitor then understands I am here to sell my book.
Don’t sink a fortune into buying purpose made display materials, they are expensive: be creative.
A brilliant display solution on a juice seller’s stall
Pinch other people’s good ideas
Think laterally, here cardboard hat boxes from a millinery supplier are used as plinths to bring the display up to different levels
Give your display height, but make sure you can serve through your display
Show tables are too low for the standing customer you need to bring your surfaces up so they can handle and see your work easily.
Most shows are under lit so consider taking extra lighting .
Try to help visitors to see themselves owning your work
Showing pots on a dresser helps visitors imagine them at home
If possible block out the sides and back of your stall otherwise people look straight through to your rivals and whiz off there
Try to take a small table of your own to act as a secure location for your cash/phone/ iPad and as a packing surface.
Table coverings need go all the way to the ground so you can hide stuff away.
Make sure your work and not your display is the star
Packing for the show
Do a trial run for the display at home and for packing up your car if its is going to be tight
Pre show checklists reduce stress. I would do two, one for your needs and one for your stand. This list is to help you put together a comprehensive list of what you are taking, but be more specific
Stand tool box (you make this up once and keep from show to show) suggested contents:
- Packing tape /gorilla tape ( taping down flexes )
- repositionable tape (resealing packets )
- Velcro stickers
- Blu tack
- Price stickers
- Pens including marker pen
- rubber bands
- Electrical screwdriver
Product Toolbox only relevant to some products eg jewellery to make alterations for customer
Packaging materials for sold products
- business cards
- Posters/ show cards
- stand covers including night sheet
- stand display pieces
- extension leads
- computer/iPad and leads
- camera and leads
- phone and re-charger
- card reader and leads
- cash boxes and float
- Reserve money purse
Yeah, after all that, don’t forget to take something to sell
Try and keep all money and packing off the display.
Consider not using an obvious cash box as locked or not it tells the opportunist here be the money and they take the whole thing. I use two boxes one for change and one for notes and cheques. Neither look like cash boxes. use a money belt for street markets
How much float and in which denominations depends on your prices it should be change for those prices. My change box has only £1 and £2 coins as all my prices are in whole pounds My note box is stocked with £5 and £10 notes. £20 are no use to me. I take around £60 float for a big show.
If you are doing well, cream off the money from your notes box to a non money looking container which is hidden away.
If you want to take credit cards check the signals at the show and any costs for internet access or electricity.
Lots of shows in top venues have lousy mobile signals
What to Wear
Your clothes are all part of your marketing. You are marketing yourself as the maker.
This look says I am not making any money and I never have
This look says I am wacky and my product is wacky
This says I am a the craftsperson
This extends the packaging of the product
This indicates the work is expensive
This says only for the stylish
This says only for the fully committed
Think about what you are going to wear, match it to your stand, then you look confident. Nondescript just doesn’t cut it.
Your show marketing
You don’t have to if it’s a big well established fair. You take a stand at these to extend your customer base. Getting your existing customers to come along is not necessarily the way to play it. Invite them to a studio event. You don’t want to lose their spend elsewhere at a big show.
If you have a website, list the fair links in your diary bit because you have visitors there who are not yet customers. Do the same on Twitter and on your Facebook page. But no big effort is necessary.
Do not miss any deadlines for the show’s own publicity and take trouble with any exhibitor listing as that can really boost your website visitors.
This is second of three posts on shows
The first part was on picking a show, which you can read here
The final part is about the show itself. If you want that emailed scroll up the left side column and click on Follow.
If you want to pick up display ideas do a search on Pinterest
If you want one to one help with your business then this is current deal.
Talk to me in The Comments and if I helped please share the post.
10 thoughts on “Craft Show Low-down : Preparations”
Great information here – thanks so much for pointing me towards your posts. Show tomorrow so will let you know how we get on.
Don’t pack your expectations and huge good luck
Hi there, this was very interesting and love the photos v explaination it makes things so much clearer, im guilty of over crowding our stall and using obvious cash box lol I certainly feel I can look at these areas and display methods with more insight now!
I hadn’t thought of dressing to my stand before and as \i was doing the glamour look at school and church craft fairs I can definitely see I may have been scaring off potential customers before they saw anything I was selling thankyou for sharing your knowledge
Good information and using the photos to illustrate your meaning just adds so much to the article. The examples speak volumes, thank you
Thank you so much. Loving your posts. They will definitely help me to be more confident & successful.
Lisa if it’s making you feel more confident then it’s doing its job, so good. So many people head off into making with very little idea of what is involved. I am always telling people what to do but really it’s not about that, its about thinking things through and joining up your thoughts.
eek just seen my pic – thanks for that Dixie – nice post
have a good wkend xxx Alex
http://www.alexandraabraham.co.uk @AlexandraArtist +44 (0)7957140320
Sent from my iPad
It’s a very nice pic and you are looking wonderful. X
This was really informative and interesting