In Craft Fairs The definition of craft is “to make by hand”, so it’s only natural that buyers of crafts are interested in hearing the story behind the hands that make crafts. Every crafter has a tale about how they got started making and/or selling their particular product. These stories are not only interesting but can also prove to be a powerful marketing tool for craftspeople.
So, what’s your story? Of course, you have one. Remember that what may not seem interesting to you may be very interesting to someone else. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when coming up with your story as a marketing tool.
• What initially sparked your interest in creating your craft?
• How did you learn your particular style of craftsmanship?
• Did anyone mentor or encourage you?
• Have you always “had a knack” for creating things?
• Do you do this as a full-time job?
• What else do you do besides crafts?
• Did you just begin selling your crafts? If so, what made you decide to start your business?
Ask yourself these and similar questions that someone might want to know about you. Over time, you will get a feel for the questions that customers ask over and over. If you pay attention to your clientele, your story will evolve quite well on its own.
What’s the best way to tell your story? This is where marketing comes in. No one way is any better than another, but you might consider the following tips.
When you are selling at craft shows, be sure to always greet browsers. Often, people who may be interested in buying your products will eventually ask about the story behind your crafts or yourself. This is when you tell your tale!
Not all of us are natural salespeople, but after you tell your story several times, it will get much easier. You’re really just telling a story about you and what you enjoy. Remember, no one knows your products like you, so you are the best salesman for your crafts!
If you have decided to create a web site for your crafts, be sure to include a section titled “About the Crafter” with a page that tells your story. If your craft itself has some type of unique history, tell this part of the story as well.
You can also include pictures of you in your workshop/work area. This will help to bring the customer a little closer to you. Be creative and remember that sharing your story online is only a little different than sharing it in person.
If you don’t have a website, consider creating a blog. There are tons of free places out there where you can post an online diary or a blog (short for weblog). This is an online diary of sorts, but many businesses use it to showcase their products/services.
One of the most well-known sites that offer blog space along with so much more is “My Space”. On My Space, you can share pictures, information about you and your craft, send and receive messages, even sell your product. It’s free to sign up and can be very valuable in the end when it comes to selling your work.
Always, always include any web address you want to direct customers to on any business cards, flyers, or other advertising that you might do. It does no good to have these addresses if you aren’t going to use them!
Use your personal computer and print up a simple one or two-page flyer with a few pictures of your product along with pricing information and the story behind you and your crafts. Have these readily available when you have a booth at a craft show or anyplace someone might have interested in your work.
Be creative with this and make these fliers eye-catching and interesting. You can generally do this quite cheaply on your own printer, but you can also get some good results going to a discount office supply store such as Office Depot or Staples.
It’s imperative, again, that you include all pertinent contact information on these fliers and don’t hesitate to hand them out every chance you get. If you find yourself with a small mail-order business, but these in all packages that you send out. Include a part on the flier that offers a discount (such as free shipping or 10 percent off purchase) when the flier is mentioned.
When it comes to a small craft business, really the best place for you to sell your product is at craft shows and craft fairs. A good marketing plan for business would normally include advertising in various places such as the local newspaper or radio station. But it’s a bit different from a craft business.
Because of the nature of your business, doing advertising like this probably won’t help you sell your wares.
You shouldn’t really spend the money unless it’s on an occasional classified ad, and we wouldn’t even suggest that.
In fact, there are many opportunities for you to market your product at little or no expense. There are all types of buyers out there who are interested in buying crafts. Consider some of the following overlooked, but lucrative marketing opportunities:
1. Home Parties/ Private Showings — These are well-suited to crafters who want to sell their work on weekends or weeknights. Offering a “Feel Free to Come Anytime All Afternoon and Bring a Friend” approach is irresistible.
Think about sending attention-getting invitations to friends, family, and acquaintances on fluorescent paper, providing information sheets that entice attendees to host parties in the future and packaging products in seasonally decorated gift boxes or bags.
2. Holiday House Boutiques — Holiday house boutiques involving special craft shows ordinarily offered twice a year (Christmas and spring) offer opportunities for those who want to work part-time. Thousands of people are drawn to these types of boutiques, which are held in all types of locations from school gymnasiums to historical houses.
3. Catalogs — Last year American shoppers spent more than $1.5 billion on mail-order merchandise from catalogs. We buy more products by mail than consumers in any other country in the world. As one might expect, crafts are big sellers in this arena. Approach a catalog buyer whose products are in a similar category or type as yours. Be prepared to pay for your supplies and labor up-front, and show that you will be able to meet the demand for catalog sales.
4. Internet Stores – Hundreds of thousands of people are online shopping every day. Don’t miss out on their business. This is where a website or blog comes in extremely handy! Be sure they can find you by registering with Google Keywords and tell everyone you know about your website and products.
5. School – Think about where your child attends school. Will they let you put your product out in the teacher’s lounge with an order sheet? It never hurts to ask. Teachers are notorious for loving hand-crafted items. This can be a wonderful place to make a huge amount of money and all you have to do is provide the product!
6. Work – Surely you know someone who works. Ask your husband, your mother, your best friend, your sister, your brother if their place of employment would be willing to have your crafts displayed in their employee lounge. Just like having them at a school, many people who have careers have little time to shop for the crafts that they love. Bring it to them!
As a note here, if you have a product that fits a certain business niche, concentrate on those places. Do you make really cute cell phone holders? Talk to the storefront for your cell phone company and ask if you can place a small table in their showroom. Figure out where your product will fit and try to put in front of the customer’s eye.
7. Small Shops – Do you live in a high tourist area? Do they have many “touristy” type shops and boutiques that attract travelers? Ask if you can give them a portion of sales in exchange for a showcase for your product.
Tourists are much more eager to part with their money while on vacation. There’s no reason why their money shouldn’t come to you!
8. Hospital Gift Shops – These venues are especially profitable if you have a craft that would fit the niche that the hospital fills. These would include baby gifts, get well gifts, and baskets filled with items like magazines, crossword puzzles, and ways to pass the time.
Print up business cards and give them to everyone you see. This can seriously be the most profitable way for you to show people you are serious about your business and draw them to your website (if you have one)!
Attach a business card to every single item you produce. Some people will throw them away and never look at them, but others will keep that card and possibly be repeat customers.
You don’t necessarily have to have your business cards printed up professionally. While they will look better, you can still use your home computer and printer to create business cards that express the essence of you and your crafts.
Buy pre-cut cards at any discount store like Wal-Mart or Office Depot, and use the templates that are provided by the company that provides these blank pages. The most popular producer is Avery. You can visit their website at www.avery.com and find templates that will print up the cards easily and quickly.
Of course, being at craft shows is the best marketing strategy out there for new craft businesses. You have a booth; you need to concentrate on making that booth attractive to potential buyers.
Think in terms of visibility. Remember that you want to draw people to your table. If you can get them to stop and browse, this will increase your chance of a sale, and that is, after all, the idea.
If you lay all your items flat on a table, many people will walk right on by. You need to get some items up and more visible. Small items could fill a nice basket and then secure one item to the front of the basket.
Wire racks can be used, the sort sold for use in kitchens look nice and work well. Small boxes, in varying heights under the table covers, make excellent upward displays. All the time you are working on this, think view. Your booth should provide ease of view to the customer and be pleasing to the eye.
Once the basic setup is decided come table covers. An exception here would be if you are not using tables and have racks set up to hang all your items. Then think backdrops if needed.
Covers or backdrops should somehow reflect what you are selling. Some suggestions include lace, muslin, burlap and flannel, even silk scarves. Your choices are as endless as the items you are selling.
Prices need to be clearly in view. The display should be kept neat and orderly. If an item sells, replace it if you have extra inventory left. Be attentive and friendly and lastly, have fun!
Craft fairs and shows are truly the best places for a new craft business to be. Why?
You are paid in cash and you get to meet your customers face to face. You can do market research for new products and talk to other people to see what is a good seller for them and why. Plus, you get to travel!
There are many, many things to keep in mind when attending. While we’ve already touched on some aspects of your booth design that apply to the market, we’re about to cover a huge amount of information regarding attending craft fairs and maximizing your presence there.
We hope you enjoy this full craft fair guide to sell your crafts at craft fairs, this is the Part Four, find the full parts here: