Having shown at many crafts shows with my previous business, I learnt very early on how to set up a stall that worked at marketing and selling my product and so it pains me to see others getting it wrong.
Crafts shows should be a wonderful addition to revenue streams for handmade artisans and are a really important way to engage with new and existing customers, as well as other opportunities. For example I have secured wholesale clients through shows and interviews in magazines and blogs. So it’s incredibly important to take the act of showing and selling our craft seriously.
Creating a great stall and selling environment takes time, effort and dare I say it PLANNING!
I’ve created a course called ‘Your Best Craft Show Yet’ that gives you all of the lessons I learned the hard way about putting together the very best stall to maximise your selling experience.
For those of you who are teetering on the very edge of giving up, let me give you some free advice, because the truth is that you can make simple improvements that will really change the game.
10 Reasons Why Your Last Craft Show SUCKED!
It pains me to hear stall holders complain about having a bad show, especially when I can clearly see many of them make the same classic mistakes. They will tell me that it’s the organiser’s fault, or that it’s the wrong type of weather. Anything but face the fact that there’s more they could have done.
So I’ve written an open letter to tell you why your last craft stall didn’t cut.
Dear Stall Holder,
I came across your stall at this year’s _______ craft show and noticed you sitting there rather glumly, mumbling about how badly you were doing to the next stall holder. I must confess, whilst I wasn’t eaves dropping I did hear you suggest it was the organiser’s fault.
I have never been to this show before, but I can tell you from a customer’s perspective that the show was bustling with people actually spending money. I myself bought several pieces which I am over the moon about. All of this to say that I think the organisers actually did a great job.
Can I be frank?
You see the thing is that I have 11 years’ experience at selling handmade products at shows and have put together around 100 of them, so I know a thing or two about creating a stall that both sells well and helps you get exposure. The truth is I noticed you made several fundamental mistakes in your day.
I’m writing this open letter to you not to blow my own trumpet, or to lord my greatness over you, but instead to help you. You see not all of my shows have been successful. In fact early on I had some real shockers! So bad in fact that I was almost put off!!
It was when I started planning my stall and my shows in general that I started to learn some really important things about selling that made all the difference. In fact so much so, that I was able to sell when most weren’t and use shows to really grow my business.
I’m going to give you a hint at some of the things I think you could improve upon and whilst I hope you don’t take it the wrong way I’m going to be as plain as possible.
Your stall was flat. Your stall looked flat and uninspiring, so I didn’t look. Instead the next stall looked much more interesting and inviting from a far and so I walked on.
Choice. I loved that dress you had on the stall today, but I don’t look good in orange and you didn’t have it in any other colours! It would have been an impulse buy anyway, even if it was in the right colour, so I left without asking for help.
I don’t understand what you sell. Looking at your stall I was really confused as to what you sell. I thought you were selling photographs, but instead you tell me you are a picture framer! I’m sorry I didn’t buy, but the way you laid out your stall with so many great photos I thought I could buy a print. It might have been better if you showed less framed photos and more examples of the frames you make bespoke.
Pricing. You had lots of lovely things for sale, but nothing was priced! If I’m not super keen on buying something, but I am slightly interested, then I want to see the price without asking. I don’t want to ask you, just in case you launch into sales patter that I find off putting.
Too little conversation. I tried to ask you a question about _____, but you looked uninterested and didn’t really respond. I almost felt guilty that I interrupted your day out!
Too much conversation. I think I put one pinky toe over the 2m radius of your stall and you were on me like a dog in heat, telling me all of the benefits of your product and what a great offer you have for me today. Please step off, you are suffocating me!
Hovering. When I took a good look at that _____ you had for sale, you hovered over me like a security guard. You put me off and I left the stall.
Examples and samples. I really wanted to buy your yarn today, but you were so busy I didn’t get the time to ask you about how your yarns knit up, or if you have patterns. I didn’t want to wait as I was playing catch up with friends two stalls ahead of me, so I left without buying.
Your customer service. I had several of your products in my hands while wrestling with my purse to find the right money. I stood in line waiting and fighting with a lipstick, hairbrush and the purse zipper getting caught on my sleeve, when I heard you talking to a customer ahead of me. It seemed like she had mistakenly picked up something from your £10 basket, thinking it was £8 like the other items she was buying. Your response was cold, patronising and headmaster-like. I put your products down and left!
No business card. I simply didn’t have enough to buy the _______ I was looking at today and I didn’t want to pay by card. On leaving the stand I asked for your business card. You didn’t have one, so I walked on and forgot about you before I even left the show!
I didn’t want to add insult to what seemed like a pretty awful day for you, but I didn’t buy from you because of one, or all of the above. So like most customers I just walked on without buying.
I think you have talent and I want to see you do as well, but your stall needs a little work.