How to sell more at craft fairs
Selling your work at craft fairs, trade shows or pop-up shops is a fantastic opportunity to meet your customers face-to-face and get a whole new fanbase too. But there’s more to selling than just turning up, laying out your products and hoping people stop and buy. So here are some tips on how to make your stall (and your brand) stand out from the rest, so you can sell more!
Photo: Kirsti Brown Ceramics at the Weekend of the Maker craft fair
Your stand is your shop window
Whether you’re selling at a trade show or a local market, it helps to think of your display as your shop window – it needs to pull in people in. A display that has clear, coherent branding and instantly tells people who you are and what you do, will grab people’s attention and stand out in a sea of similar stalls. So ask yourself:
- what is my brand?
- what do I want to tell buyers about my work (is it high-end, ethically sourced, fun etc)
- what are the ideas behind my collection?
Then design your stand so it reflects those concepts. If your work is simple and modern, an uncluttered display using neutral tones will work better than a crumpled tablecloth piled high with products. If you apply these concepts to the whole of your display, from your signage and props right down to the smallest details like price labels and ribbon, you’re more likely to catch a customer’s eye and stick in their memory when they leave.
You are your brand
Selling at an event can be the first and only time a customer meets you, so make a good impression. Don’t slouch behind your stand with your head buried in your phone; stand up as much as possible, be friendly and ready to talk about your work (even if it the 50th time you’ve explained the same thing). If you can, ask someone to look after your stall while you eat lunch, so you don’t end up talking to customers through a cheese-and-pickle sandwich. If there is a way you can demonstrate your craft it can be a great talking point and instantly shows people you are the maker and demonstrates your skill. If you’re a letterpress printmaker, for example, can you bring along your Adana press or if you’re a weaver can you bring your tabletop loom?
Read people’s body language
Leaping on a customer as soon as they approach isn’t always the way to go, so take clues from their body language. If they keep their eyes down, they probably want to be left to browse in peace. If they pick something up, they might want to know more about it. The more events you do, the more you’ll learn when to interact and when to stand back.
People might not buy on the day, but if they like your work they could come back to you later online. So have some information they can take home. If you’re selling at a trade show, that could be a line sheet, catalogue or price list. At a market, it could be a postcard showing one of your products or even just a business card.
If you’re at a trade fair and a buyer is interested in a particular collection, write it down along with their name, shop name and something to remember them by (such as, talked to her for a long time on the first day, specialises in contemporary homeware) and attach their business card to your note so you can follow up afterwards. The same goes at a market – if someone is interested in a particular product or possibly a custom order, jot down their name and any details that will help you remember them, and get in touch after the event. Similarly, if a customer buys a lot of your work, note down their name and what they bought, to help jog your memory the next time you meet them. Small details like knowing someone’s name or what they bought from you makes them feel valued and will help you build a fanbase.
Zoe Bateman from Ladybird Likes shares her tips on selling at craft fairs
- Make sure you and your stall accurately represents your brand. There are lots of ways of doing this. If you make jewellery or clothing or anything wearable, then make sure you’re wearing it at any events you do. If your brand has a colour scheme try to reflect this in your stall presentation – Ladybird Likes has a grey/white/aqua colour scheme running through the branding, so I use a grey polka dot table cover, and my paper bags for packaging are aqua coloured.
- Be friendly but not TOO friendly! There is a fine line between striking up a conversation and harassing potential customers! It can put people off if you pounce on them as soon as they look at your stall. Let them have a look, but also make sure you’re available to talk or answer questions.
- Make a craft fair survival kit. I never go to a fair or market without mine, and I keep it in my studio ready to go in my market bag at a moment’s notice. My survival kit consists of all the things you might happen to need – scissors, string, strong tape, chewing gum or mints (no-one likes talking to someone with stinky breath), a bottle of water, tissues, wet wipes, a pen, and a small notebook. You’d be surprised how many last-minute problems can be solved with these simple items! Forgotten to bring a price sign for an item? Use your pen and paper to make one! Can’t get a piece of your display to stand up? Use some string or tape!
- Make a sign or bring leaflets with key information about your brand. You will get asked the same questions a billion times at fairs and these are usually the sorts of things you’d normally cover on your ‘about me’ page on a website. The things I get asked the most are ‘did you make this?’, ‘what is this made from?’ and ‘where are you based?’ I now have a sign I hang up at events, and I also have postcard-sized leaflets with a bit about how my jewellery is made, how Ladybird Likes started and where I am based, which I hand to customers. It gives them some information about my brand and also gives them something to take home with them and (hopefully) to remember me by!
- Make sure your display is shopper friendly! If it’s your first craft fair try setting up your display at home first to give you an idea of how it will look. Put smaller items near the front of your display so they are visible, and keep larger/taller items near the back. Consider using boxes with fabric on top to add height to your display. Try to make your display as eye-catching as possible. Use props and display items that fit with your brand’s aesthetic, but don’t overclutter your stall with items that aren’t for sale!
Image credit: Personalised Mehndi decorated hands print by Rose Papercuts