Monday, April 21, 2008

Good Time – Bad Time! It’s Show Time

Well the countdown has started. The big Craft Show is just a few days away and that ever present thought keeps popping up in your head. Am I ready you ask? Oh heck no! I don't have enough product, I'm not organized, and I'm not sure of my set up. Funny, but I'm not really worried about any of that. I am worried, however, about the weather. Mother nature can do brutal things to outdoor markets, and my main enemy: wind. The tent turns into a giant kite, and I turn into Mary Poppins, holding on to the center, ready to fly away. Not to mention displays and signs can blow over.

Weights: check! Walls: check! Heater: check!

We have been doing raft and other types now for probably 15 plus years and I thought I would pass on a few things we learned. Often the hard way.

  1. Have lots of change. Then, when you think you have enough, get more.
  2. Put your companies information on the customer copy of your receipt book before you start, you can use a stamp or print labels, this way, if somehow they don't get a business card, they still have your info.
  3. Make a price list with tax and total, And make sure you bring a calculator.
  4. Have things in different price ranges. I like to have available impulse items. People like to have something to bring home when they've been enjoying themselves and these small items can fit the bill easily. There is nothing wrong with inexpensive items for this purpose. .
  5. Have discounts for multiple item sales. Many of our products are prices the same so it is easy for us to have a 3 for price on most of our items. Along with this, if you want to save yourself some headaches, price your products in even amounts, $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, ect. This also make giving change much easier.
  6. One of the biggest mistakes I see at almost all shows is that the tables are too low. Raise your tables. This makes a huge difference. You can used pvc pipe as “stilts” or extension to raise the table up to 36” or even 40 inches. The idea is to make the table high enough so people don’t have to bend over to see things and this also helps keep those little sticky toddler fingers from grabbing things as easily.
  7. Put as many things as possible at eye level. You want something interesting to draw people to your space. Whether it’s a colorful sign or a hanging display, it will make your booth more interesting.
  8. If you are using a tent, get a banner for the front of your tent. Make one if you have to. Create brand identity and get your name out there. If you are inside, have a banner for your tables. They don’t have to be the same thing but one of them should loudly announce your company name.
  9. Our products are not the type that people wear but if yours’ are, give your customers the option of wearing their purchase or carrying a nice bag. Have your company info pre-inserted into your bags also.
  10. Dress appropriately, layer, particularly if you are outside. You never know what old mother nature might throw at you.
  11. If you are at a really hot show, customers may be spending more than they intended. Know where the nearest ATM is, especially if you don’t take credit cards.
  12. We like to have a sign-up book for e-mail mailing list. You can let your customers know about new items, special sales, or send them coupons for their next visit.
  13. I know it sounds silly and you may feel silly doing this at first but if you are one of these people that doesn’t smile naturally all the time, practice in front of a mirror for a few days. Learn to smile when someone asks how you make things or other trade secrets (I’m still working on this one!) It’s okay to make a joke or be evasive about answering, just don’t be rude.
  14. Remember I said to have your tables higher than normal. If you vary the levels on your display tables it will provide more visual interest as well as giving you more room to showcase your wares. Adding risers, even if they are nothing but old shoe boxes or an old shelf from the closet can bring a whole new appearance to your displays.
  15. This is one we learned the hard way. Bring your tools so you can alter or adapt things if need be. Floors are not always level and Murphy’s Law always seem to be in overdrive at shows.
  16. Don’t just sit behind your table, get out and greet people. This is why it is always a good idea to have more than one person doing the show. Walk around and interact! Hand out your business cards to anyone who will take them. Invite them over to see your products.

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