Friday, March 26, 2010

Craft Show Selling Tips

Craft Show Tips for Success

- be sure your product is high quality and well made
This may sound a little harsh, but you need to be really honest with yourself about your product and the quality of the work you do as well as the quality of materials.  If you’re going to be successful, it has to be top notch.  When I started selling jewelry, I used silver plated findings – they were less expensive and actually, because silver is a soft metal, findings that were nickel with silver plating were sturdier.  BUT, if the silver plating chips or wears off and exposes the metal beneath, the customer may have an allergy problem and you risk making the customer unhappy.   Unhappy customers aren’t return customers.

- have adequate stock
Plan to reasonably fill your table or display space.  Figure on 2-3 times the amount you might typically sell.  I have actually been concerned a couple times that I might have too much available – that it’s overwhelming for the customer and they are unable to make a decision, so they walk away.  But I’m leary of cutting back on my stock for fear that I’ll lose sales because I don’t have a color readily made.  It’s a dilemma.

- well displayed
See my blogs from March 24 and 25 for more details about displays.

- priced to sell
Don’t price too high.  Don’t price too low.  Pricing too high will discourage sales, but pricing too low will affect the “perceived value” and people won’t buy because they are afraid it’s poorly made.  If you’re really uncertain about your prices, attend a couple local shows and check out the prices of vendors whose work is similar to yours or check online stores..  I include sales tax in my prices and keep my prices at whole numbers – making change is quick and easy because I deal in all dollars and no coins.  It’s also a good idea to have a range of prices to appeal to a range of budgets.  I have several trays of small, simple earring styles that I offer for $5 each – my higher end necklaces top out around $75 and I offer a variety of items priced in between. 

- update your stock
My designs are intended to be duplicated.  I currently offer 47 colors of crystals, and customers can order any design in any color crystal.  But that doesn’t mean I should display the same earrings show after show, year after year.  I’m too creative to stop at my current portfolio of styles .. and it wouldn’t be good for my repeat customers.  My market would be very quickly saturated if I only offered the same old designs all the time.  I change some of my stock from season to season – in spring I may display a particular pair of earrings in pink, light green, violet or light blue.... in summer, I may display the same style in fuchsia or turquoise and in the fall and winter, I may display them in autumn colors or jewel tones.  And I’m constantly developing new designs which get added to the displays.  Slow sellers are eliminated – so you need some idea what’s selling and what’s not.

- be prepared to answer any possible question
Can I ship?  Internationally?  Would I be interested in selling on consignment?  Can I lengthen or shorten that necklace?  Do I gift wrap?  What are my wholesale prices?

- look professional
Be on top of your personal hygiene – have hair fixed, smell freshly showered, brush your teeth.  Be clean.  Use deodorant.  Wear make up.  Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed... and well fitting.  Jean may be comfy, but unless your craft really demands them, you need to wear something a little nicer.  No t-shirts, especially with printed messages on them (seriously ... no beer ads!).  Think “Smart Casual”.  Men should wear “Dockers” and either a button down shirt, polo style shirt or sweater.  Ladies should wear dress pants or skirts and a nice blouse.  A cheery, feminine sundress can be great for summer shows.  Make sure your colors match and know that they are a good color for your complexion.  And the most important thing to wear?  A smile!

- have professional supplies
Have sharp business cards.  Have some type of neat packaging to protect purchased items – plastic bags, paper bags, gift boxes.  Unless you do calligraphy or some kind of phenomenal handwriting, use a computer to print any important signage.  Consider promotional literature like rack cards, brochures or coupons and make sure all your promotional literature is carefully printed.  I’ve noticed that I like my business cards printed on glossy paper – they look a LOT classier!  This is not to say that you can’t use fun fonts to create coupons or flyers – just keep it clean.  I attended a show and visited the booth of a jewelry maker whose style was similar to mine.  She handed me a card with her contact info and a price list – the information was poorly laid out and confusing on the card, and the card itself had crumpled corners.  It was just tacky – not a positive impression for me at all.  I went home and examined my materials trying to be objective – and I made a few simple changes that really polished up my stuff!

- have prices visible
Let customers browse and make your prices easy to find.  If they have to ask about every item that interests them, they will get annoyed and walk away... especially if you’re too busy to answer them.

- demonstrate if you can
At craft shows, I offer to make custom jewelry “on demand” – and if possible, when setting up our booth space, I try to be seated where customers can watch me work.  I’m a bit on the shy side, but do well with kids – it’s not unusual to have a child or two watching me work... and mom shops.   The more jewelry I sit and make, the more I sell -- it’s like a magnet!.  25 to 40% of my show sales are custom made, either by substituting posts, making custom color combinations or even sitting with a customer to make their own design (they LOVE playing ... and seeing their own ideas become a reality!).

-be prepared to take special orders
Some customers may want something in quantities or colors that you don't have on hand -- but you can do a special order for them!  I've had special orders that were as much as my sales for the day -- made an average day very profitable!  Take a notebook or order book along to your shows (you can find order books in office supply stores).  Decide ahead of time how you want to handle policy issues -- payment, shipping, returns -- so you're prepared.  Consider customer needs when making your payment policy -- remember that if you were the customer, you would want some way to protect yourself financially.  If you don't have a Paypal account, it would be wise to establish one -- it allows the customer to pay with a credit card as well as offering some protections for them.  You may know you're ethical, but to most customers, you're a total stranger.  Your policies should give them confidence in you and your professionalism.  Just one good sale will make all your efforts worthwhile!!

-take a sales partner
Usually, some time during the day, you’re going to need to find a rest room or something to eat – having a person there to help is a huge benefit!  And if it gets busy, you’ll need the help.  And in my case, because I’m making custom requests, I need someone to keep the sales moving and keep an eye on things.  We like to think that customers are all honest, but unfortunately, you have to be prepared for “light fingered” shoppers -- my selling partner (usually my husband) is a second set of eyes, especially when things get busy..  Also in my case, because I’m shy, it can be hard for me to “sell”, but my husband, who is very outgoing, is great at talking to people – he’s never met a stranger!   So I make, he sells ...together we make a good team! 

- NEVER indulge in your vices while at a show – this is not the time to smoke or use alcohol.  Never use foul or crude language – it’s just not professional.  Never argue with your sales partner or raise your voices.  Never talk trash or be critical .. of anyone.  

- Don’t read.  If you look bored, people will walk right past.

- Don’t sit and chat with your sales partner while customers are browsing your wares.  Your customers deserve your attention and expect it.   Some customers may feel that they’re intruding on your conversation .. .and they’ll walk past your booth.

- Don’t eat or drink if it’s busy in your booth.

- Don’t just sit there while customer come by to browse.  My husband stands for nearly the whole show – if I’m not making something special, I try to stand to give him a break to go sit down.  We’ve noticed that if we both sit, people just keep walking past. 

- Be friendly and courteous, but not pushy.  We have a short “opening spiel” that introduces some basics to customers when they stop by my booth.  It’s informative and usually includes some little humorous line to keep things light.  We let people know that everything is made with sterling silver (so is likely not an allergy problem), that my crystals and pearls are all Swarovski and that I can make any style in any color or mix of colors – my husband usually adds “school colors, team colors, birthstone colors, colors for your wedding party” and sometimes something fun like “my husband is hunting so I”m shopping colors” – always brings a laugh!  It seems to put people at ease and they linger longer to browse .. and often buy.  And this might be a good place to mention that sometimes, customers are rude or critical -- don't let it shake you -- SOME people are just never happy.  "Just smile and nod, boys.... smile and nod".  :)

- let people touch your items
Some people need to pick it up, handle it, try it on ... and letting them do so can really add to your sales.  If you sell something wearable, be sure to have a mirror handy so people can see how they look.  If you sell earrings, don’t let people try them on – if they don’t purchase them, you have something that’s been in someone’s ears ... and that’s just gross for the person who eventually buys them.  But let them try on a necklace.  Let them feel the weight of your product, see the color, feel the softness of the fabric or the smoothness of the wood or the thickness of the quilt.  If you sell something that can be offered in samples, by all means, offer samples!  People use all their senses – feed their senses!

- keep your display neat
If customers pick up items, they don’t always put them back down in the same spot – and your display can get to looking untidy, which will discourage passing customers from stopping.  And if there’s a lull in the action, being out at the front of your display makes it look like someone is there browsing ... and customers seem to like shopping at a busy table. 

- Be friendly and courteous to other vendors.
Some of my best sales have come from other vendors.  If they’re having a good day, they have the extra cash to buy too.  And being sociable with other vendors is just good practice – keeping things friendly makes your whole day better.  Be conscious of where your displays are in relation to your neighboring booth – don’t infringe on their space.  If we are next to someone who is working alone, we will offer to watch their booth so they can take a break.

- have adequate change on hand
If you run out of the right change, you could lose a sale.  I usually take $100 in ones and fives, with a ten or two – and that’s normally sufficient.  You may not need quite as much for a small sale but you may need more for a really big craft show.

- take credit cards
You’ll get higher average sales and more impulse purchases.   I use Propay and have been happy with it.  They have several options ... you should be able to find one that’s right for you.  Check with your bank or credit union – some of them offer good options too.

- take a bottle of water and something to snack on
It’s almost inevitable that there will be down time sometime during your show day – take advantage of the lull to catch a quick drink or snack.  We don’t eat at the same time – so one of us is always available for customer service.  If it’s a warm summer show, the extra water isn’t just a convenience ... it’s a necessity! 

- above all, have FUN!!!
If you’re having a blast, it will be contagious .. customers will be drawn to you and your booth.  So get enough sleep the night before.  Do some pre-planning and organization ahead of time so that on the day of the show, you’re able to relax and feel confidant that you’re ready to take on the day!  Smile warmly, laugh often and have a good time!!


pfd said...

Wow! You covered everything, great advice!

Sue Runyon said...

Thanks so much!