Were there a lot of customers in attendance?
Were people successfully selling around you?
Were you happy with your sales?
From our observations this past weekend I'm sure there will be many more no answers than yes to that last question.
My husband and I recently participated in an apple and wine festival in a nearby town. He sold his gourmet seasoned pretzels, aka Santa Snacks. I was his "good little soldier" during the weekend selling alongside of him, helping wherever I could including setting up and restocking his display, and packing up at the end of each day.
Throughout Saturday's and Sunday's event we noticed several vendors throwing imaginary daggers at us because we were busy and they weren't. I would like to offer some suggestions to these vendors, and others, based on our observations. I do not profess to have all of the answers when it comes to selling at a craft show. Lord knows I've had many a show where I sat throwing imaginary daggers at others too. I am very aware of how discouraging a weekend with few sales can be. But there are a few things that I've observed that could result in higher sales. These suggestions are in no particular order.
~ Is your product something people want, need, and are willing to buy? Sometimes a product has run its course or there is far too much competition for you to be successful. I stopped selling fashion accessories because fashion is fickle. People had seen it, purchased it, and were ready to move on. I'm sure, in time, the same thing will happen with the pine needle baskets. Switching up the shows you do may prolong the success of your product.
~ Is this the right show for your product? While pretzels sold well at this most recent event, I doubt pine needle baskets would have so I would never consider doing this event.
~ Create a welcoming display. Add lights, add levels, add color. Make it interesting without being too cluttered. Arrange your display so that people will want to come into your booth to see what you have.
~ Engage people as they are walking by. Make eye contact. A simple "good morning" or "how are you today?" may be all it takes to draw someone into your space. Once there it is up to you to sell your product to them. They may not always buy, but your chances for a sale are better if you have the customer's attention.
~ Your product will not sell itself. You have to sell it! As stated earlier, food always sells; however, Santa is constantly inviting people to sample his pretzels. If he doesn't, most people walk on by.
~ Be visible and close enough to customers to be able to engage in conversation and answer questions. I have noticed that the farther away I sit from my display the lower my sales. Standing near my display seems to result in higher sales volume. I'm more accessible when I stand.
~ If you look busy people will not bother you. Put down the phone. Stop texting, checking your email, social media, etc. especially if you are in alone your booth. Yes, sometimes we have to do those things, but I have observed people who have played on their phones the entire day, and not spoken to any customers. These same vendors then complain that they didn't have any sales. You need to engage the customer.
~ Don't barricade yourself behind your display. Be visible and accessible.
~ Use large, easy to read signs with very little information on them. People are not going to stand there and read signs full of facts. I use 3 different signs in 8 X 10 frames and change them up at each show. If my display and the unusual product haven't lured them in, the signs usually do. Once in my booth I engage them in a conversation on how the baskets are made. The signs I use are:
~ Check this out! Baskets made out of pine needles.
~ Yes, these baskets really are made out of pine needles.
~ Can you believe these baskets are made out of pine needles?
~ Draw people in with an unusual fact about your product. This is an easy one for my husband. He is Santa Claus so he's a natural draw for children as well as adults. He also has a larger than life banner with his photo that clearly states what he is selling. That being said, he also has to invite customers to sample his delicious pretzels. While food always sells, if he just sat there and didn't encourage people to sample his recipes, his sales would be substantially lower. I used to tell people that my women's fashion accessories were made on a loom. They were sure they were knit or crocheted so the loom intrigued them and started a conversation.
~ Demonstrate your product if possible. I am always working on a pine needle basket out of necessity and so that I can demonstrate the process. This lures customers in and shows them first hand the intricacies of what I do. They realize that they would not be able to make a basket and generally purchase a piece instead. I didn't work on my fashion accessories at a show because people would comment, "Oh, that's all that is?" and they would walk away thinking they could make one too. Obviously, many products do not lend themselves to being made at a show, but if you can...
~ Ask if the customer is thinking of something for themselves or for a gift? Once answered questions about favorite colors, styles, etc. can get you closer to closing the sale.
~ Be enthusiastic about your product. Show your love for doing what you do. I am not a sales person, but my enthusiasm for my product is evident with each person I speak to. I believe this and the uniqueness of my baskets help increase sales.
~ Tell customers a fact and why that fact is important to them.
~ Display products in several different price ranges. People may love your product but not the price tag. They may want to buy something but may not be able to afford it. The response to the fashion accessories I made was very good in the beginning, but the prices scared some people away. I started making some simple slip on bracelets which many purchased. They wanted a piece, but a $60.00 scarf wasn't always in the budget. Now I make ornaments which are a hit especially around the holidays. Offering lower priced items gets them into a piece without spending a lot of money. And, it increases your sales! Always a plus.
~ There are so many people who sell jewelry, soaps, candles, wood products, knitted and crocheted items, fabric items, etc. Yours need to stand out. What is it about your product that is different? What is it about your product that makes people want it? Focus on that and gauge your display and conversation around the positive differences without trashing your competition's merchandise.
As stated earlier, I do not profess to have all of the answers, but have noticed that those who complain about low sales are generally guilty of one or more of these things. We welcome additional suggestions in the comments section. Let's help each other garner more sales!
With the popularity of my pine needle baskets I have set a goal of turning out a basket a day between now and our last show. This goal may sound very lofty, and it is, but somehow I have managed to accede it. Here are a few baskets that will be for sale at our upcoming shows.
|For the wine lover!|
7 inches X 1.25 inches
|We found this shell on a Florida beach and had it encased in acrylic.|
10 inches X 8.5 inches
|It's 5 O'clock somewhere!|
10 inches X 8.75 inches X 2 inches
Remember, availability is limited as most baskets are one of a kinds.
We are looking forward to exhibiting at the Hunt Union Craft Fair on September 22. The Hunt Union is on the SUNY Oneonta campus in Oneonta, NY. We will be there from 9 am - 4 pm. Please stop by if you're in the area! We'd love to see you!
Until Next Time...