Are you a part of the handmade economy? If so, you likely have been overwhelmed with the blossoming number of opportunities in which to showcase & sell your work. We now have so many options: online sales on your own website, online sales through sites like Etsy.com & Artfire.com, storefront sales, and wholesale to boutiques are just a few. However, the crux of the handmade economy, might still just be the ‘Craft Market’ and your local craft fairs.

Time & time again, we’re seeing that actually meeting people in real life, explaining the work you do is a huge value to the marketing of your handmade work. The connection that is made between the maker of craft, and the person who purchases the craft, is a valuable link. So what are some tips & tricks to snagging those would be shoppers, walking by your booth at the craft fair or boutique show? Here are a few that we’ve gathered from our years of working with jewelry designers at www.BeadinPath.com.

1) Brand Your Booth.
You’ve branded your business cards, jewelry tags, even your invoices, all to showcase your logo & match your brand. Your booth should be an even more creative extension of that.

If your jewelry or handmade goods have a Steampunk look, your booth can showcase that by your choices: a tea-stained tablecloth, aged chipped wood brown frames with rusty gridwork on which to hang earrings, an aged wire armature on which to drape necklaces.

Perhaps preppy is your niche & your brand logo is pink & green? Your choices might be: polka dotted tablecloths in your brand colors, lucite trays from HomeGoods (the kind that you serve Summer drinks on are perfect) in bright contrasting colors to lay out your hand-stamped cards in, or pink patten leather photo albums to show past custom work.

You get the idea. Make sure your table is an extension of the look of your brand. If your brand is easily identified, your would-be customer walking by can easily identify if they are drawn to your product before they even see what you make.

2) Stand Up.
Ever shop a craft fair & see the crafters behind their booths sitting or reading a booth? Do you ever stop at those booths & engage them? Likely not. That’s because their body language shows they’re not approachable.

If your energy is dull & distracted, your booth with likely get passed over for the booth next to you where the crafter is happily showcasing her latest knitting technique, or handing out free samples of her soft yarn. It’s important for the energy of the people behind the booth to be open, positive and engaging.

3) Work Your Booth Front.
As an extension of the ‘stand up’ piece, I’d even go a bit further and say you should work from the front of your booth. Depending on how your space is set up, it’s even better if you can get in front of your booth vs. behind it.

It will keep you up and motivated to engage people. But even more than that, when things slow down, you can start tidying up or start re-displaying things that might have sold down. All of this busyness creates energy in front of your tables.

People won’t differentiate you from a shopper because all they’ll pick up on as they’re casually sauntering up, is that this booth has some energy and it will pique their interest.

Once you have some people digging through things alongside you, you can take your place either back behind your booth or along the side and engage your new, interested shoppers.

4) Something to Take Away.
Every time someone stops at your booth, it’s a huge branding and marketing opportunity, even if they don’t make a purchase that day. It seems like an obvious tip, but it’s amazing how many crafters or trade show vendors don’t come prepared: make sure your booth has something of value to take away.

And I don’t mean just business cards or free samples. The word ‘value’ has had a lot of buzz in the marketing community lately. But it’s been proven that if you provide a customer or would-be customer with something of value, you have made a connection and likely a future sale.

Now, value doesn’t have to equal monetary value. Value can be knowledge as well. For example, offer a handout that explains HOW you make your goods. People are tired of being told why they should buy. Tell them instead why YOU love to make what you make. Give them a glimpse into your joy. It will be infectious.

Another example: you make Vintage Button Bracelets. You likely have a stash of buttons that are lovely but you might not use them in your work. Make up some cardstock gift tags with a vintage button hot-glued onto the front and ‘To’ and ‘From’ written in calligraphy on the bag. Stamp your company name or Etsy URL in a small font along the bottom.

You’ve given your would-be customer a freebie that is a take away extension of your brand that they can actually SAVE and USE. Of course, don’t leave those business cards at home. They’re still important.

5) Give chocolate.
One thing we’ve started doing at our Bead Show booths is offering a bowl of chocolate or some kind of endorphine-filled pick-me-up treat, especially in the afternoon. As the energy of the day starts to wane, usually around 3 or 4 o’clock, it’s felt from booth to booth.

Shoppers are tired because perhaps they’ve been on their feet all day. Or maybe it’s just because it’s been 3 hours since lunch. And that energy from behind the booths that we touched on in the previous paragraph? Let’s face it, the vendors are worn out & that energy is going to be contagious to the shoppers.

Break out the home-made chocolate chip cookies you brought from home & offer then to people walking by. Not in a pushy salesman-type way. But in a “Hey girlfriend who just walked into my kitchen, wouldn’t you like these warm from the oven cookies?”-kind of way. Chocolate is a sure fire way to spike those endorphins in the room & get people engaged & shopping again.

These are just a few tips to carving your way to Craft Show Success. I’d love to hear some of your suggestions & ideas in the comments section below. Or you can email me directly at Heather@BeadinPath.com

About The Author:  This was a guest post from Heather DeSimone, co-owner of The Beadin’ Path, Inc , a full service bead store & online retail and wholesale bead company, specializing in vintage lucite & glass beads. You can find her via her  website, on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

About the Author

Crissy Herron is the founder of Indie Biz Chicks. She is the self-described "World's Best Aunt," loves Motion City Soundtrack, is awesome in the kitchen, and is a proud resident of The Mitten State. (that's Michigan, by the way.) And, oh yeah, she used to live in Alaska. (she likes the cold.)

  • You have some great ideas. I have just started doing stalls. I have branded my stall as it is unique and distinguishable from a distance and I had a decorative banner made for it for above head height too. I have noticed that being ctive is very important. If and when I am tired I sit and make some of my embellishments on site – it is surprising how many comments and interest is shown. I hadn’t thought of give aways which I will incorporate almost immediately namely a instruction instruction sheet for one of the major embellishments on my boxes. I can’t do cho chocolates as it can get too hot here, but peppermints might work just as well. So thanks for the inspirations. Will continue to look at your blog.

  • You give very good advice in the article. We always say to our clients that, unfortunately, even the best exhibition stand could not do everything, but only attract people inside their brand universe. The thing is that a lot of sellers in fairs, or managers, just forget some of the basics you have given : as to “always stand up” or to give something to your lead. No doubt that I will give the address of your website to my clients !

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