Friday, February 26, 2010

For the Craft Fair

You have spent many frenzied hours preparing your art and craft items for the craft fair, but does that mean you are fully prepared to make as much money as you can at the event? Probably not. As creatives, we tend to focus on our art and forget about everything else (my house could fall down around me while I’m in the zone and I wouldn’t notice.) The problem is, you went to all that time and trouble to participate in a craft show, and I want to make sure you make the most money you can while you are there. It’s not just about what you sell at the show, it’s about the contacts you make and how you use them. Craft shows are a great place to network and market. Here are some easy tips to make your next craft fair/show pay-off for months after everyone goes home.

Display is important. Dedicate some creative energy to your display. You want to stand out in the crowd. This is especially important if your artwork is currently a popular trend and you have lots of competition. If you sell jewelry right now, you know what I mean. At the majority of the shows I have attended, I see the jewelry laid out flat-sometimes on black velvet or in white bins at almost every table. What if you bought cool, retro mannequin heads and used them to display your jewelry? I know I would make a beeline to a table full of faux heads to check-out what’s going on.

Once you have attracted clients to you with a great display, you need to capture their information. Have a guest book out and invite people to sign it and tell you what they think about your art. Make sure you ask them to check a box saying they would like to receive mailings from you. The book will be give you an idea of what people like about your art and you will have their contact information. Create a mailing list and make sure that you send out cool invites every time you are going to be at a show. Include a discount coupon on the postcard, that way you can track how effective your mailing was. For an even nicer touch, make sure you send out a thank you note, right after the show, telling them how glad you are that they stopped by to look at your work.

Have a free drawing. Ask people to drop their business cards into a hat and raffle off a prize. Instant list!

GET MARKETING MATERIALS! I can’t tell you how many artists don’t have any information about themselves out on their tables. What if I don’t want to buy today, but really like your stuff? How will I ever find you again? You absolutely must put out business cards. Business cards don’t have to be expensive. You can even print them out from your home computer; just make sure you give people the opportunity to find you again. Make flyers about trunk shows or anything else you want people to buy from you in the future. If you have catalogs bring them. Create a portfolio of your work and have it out for people to look at. You might get some special orders. I download digital pictures onto my laptop of past work and have a slide show of the work running on it during the show, or you can use a digital photo frame to display your portfolio!

More on marketing materials…Every product should have a tag on it with all your contact information. I just use my business card, hole-punched with a ribbon. This gives both the buyer and, if the item is being purchased as a gift, the recipient your contact information. The recipient may want to collect your work, but won’t be able to if there isn’t a tag.

Have freebies. Everyone loves to get gifts. For the holiday boutique I am participating in this year, I created special, creative gift tags. Each customer gets a free set with the purchase of any item. Of course, the back of the gift card has all my contact information.

Network with the other artists and crafters. Make friends. Even your competitors are potential clients. Gather the business cards of everyone who is participating at the show and send a friendly email to each one within a week of the show. Tell them how much you enjoyed seeing their work. If you remember something specific about them or their work, mention it. Tell them a bit about you and tell them to contact you if they ever need anything.

If you follow these few simple steps, you should have a nice list of clients, potential clients, friends and business partners in your possession. Now you must use this list to make it pay. Set-up a schedule to touch base with each person on a regular basis. Send them invitations to all your shows, send them your monthly newsletter or just drop them a line or a note telling them you are thinking about them. Have fun and be prosperous!

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