Amanda Cockburn loves to #supportlocal.
So much so that she founded Freewheeling Craft: curated markets that showcase new and established local artisans and makers from the community.
Amanda has coordinated many successful markets in the three years since Freewheeling Craft’s inception, so she knows what craft market coordinators are looking for in maker/artisan applications, what works for planning a successful booth layout (and maybe more importantly, what doesn’t work), tips on how to market yourself prior to the show, and how to create a lasting impression AFTER your customer’s purchase.
She baaaaasically knows it all. So if you’re thinking of applying to your first craft market, or maybe you’ve already participated in one and things didn’t really work out the way you’d hoped (*raises hand*), Amanda has some great tips on what it takes to NAIL your experience as a maker at a craft market.
You can interview here, or read on below for those tips.
First, here’s some advice on how to apply to a craft show or market.
Alright. So we said Amanda knew WHAT coordinators like herself look for in a maker/artisan’s market application and that is the very first step. If you bomb the application, you can pretty much forget about the rest of this blog post. (After all, you won’t need to know how to create a booth if you don’t get into the show!)
First thing? Keep this in mind: you are selling yourself first. Have a clear pitch. Tell your brand story- who you are, why you do what you do, who you’re serving, and what you’re selling. You’ll want to tailor the application, too, and share how it will fit in to this market.
You’ll also want to be super clear if you have any new and exciting products to showcase at the show- this can draw in new crowds and be really beneficial to the host!
Don’t forget to include all of your social media and business information so they can easily find you and see more of your work.
Bonus points: If you have any collaborative projects, be sure to share those, too (it shows that you also love and support your community).
CONGRATULATIONS, you aced your application and you’ve been accepted for the market as a new/returning vendor! Now, you’ll want to think about marketing yourself prior to the show, and bring customers into YOUR booth.
How To Market Yourself & Your Booth For An Upcoming Craft Show
A few weeks before your show, you’ll want to start amping up the excitement on your social media. Sneak peeks for showcasing product and booth prep is a great way to get your customers excited for the show! But don’t give them too much, you want to keep the excitement simmering 😉
One other thing to bring customers RIGHT TO YOU at the show is to offer some sort of incentive. A gift with purchase to the first XX number of purchases, an exclusive discount during the first hour of the show, chances at a giveaway- that sort of thing! Something that will build up some buzz around your booth right at the start will help build traffic and make you feel extra confident all day.
Things to keep in mind when designing/setting up your booth at a craft show
You are a brand, so it is important that your booth (and you) properly reflects that brand! Be mindful of the following:
- Less is more. A clean and tidy booth is important to the overall customer experience. Have extra inventory, packaging and any extra clutter tucked away.
- Decide what you want to showcase, and show it off. If you have a best seller or maybe a new seasonal item, make sure it’s visible front and centre.
- Have your business name/logo on a sign or banner. You put in so much effort in your products, you want people to KNOW WHO YOU ARE! (And please, don’t forget business cards! Make sure you have plenty to pass around.)
- Test your booth design beforehand! You have an idea of how you want your booth to be laid out, but the last thing you want to happen is that you get to the venue and it doesn’t the way you thought. Plan out your booth do a mock setup prior to the event date.
Keep in mind: Some shows will provide booth items for the vendors (such as tables or a nearby outlet), but some do not! Make sure you know what is and is not at your disposal, or if the coordinators offer rentals.
Engaging with your customers during the show
Be authentic. This might be the first time that you are able to actually meet some of your customers in the flesh. Dress in a way that represents you and your brand, and actually try to meaningfully engage with them when they visit your booth!
Worried about being introverted or shy? Create a “cheat sheet” of talking points and have a plan for what you’ll ask or say to a customer when they approach your booth. This might feel silly, but be as prepared as you possibly can. If you know your product as well as you should, it should be easy enough to come up with a few interesting facts about it that you can point out while people browse!
How to process payments at a craft show
You’ll want to make payment processing as easy and seamless for customers as possible- don’t make it a barrier to them buying your products! You should ideally be offering the choice of paying cash, debit or credit.
Make sure you have a float of at least $100 in small bills & change for cash payments.
Packaging your products properly
Once your customer purchases, don’t overlook the packaging you provide. Packaging will create a lasting impression and remind people of your booth once they get home. “Unboxing” videos are huge on social, because everyone loves beautiful things in beautiful packages- so consider it an opportunity to potentially even get more traction, if your customer shares their experience.
There is no need to go all out (packaging can get pricey!), but even a simple paper bag and stamp of your logo (check out Etsy), and you have personalized packaging! You can check out Uline– they sell tons of packaging items, or look for stores locally where you can buy smaller quantities. Just… take it from me, and be careful with dollar store paper bags.
Want to go the extra step? Personalized tissue paper from No Issue Tissue or a postcard (with all your business information), will no doubt stand out to your customer. This is also a good opportunity to offer a discount to your client on their next purchase (making them a return client) using a code OR have them snap a photo and post it to “unlock a promo code”! Get as creative as you want here!
Feeling a bit more confident, yet? Good! I just want to mention one more thing.
For just a small attendance fee, markets are not only a great way to sell some products and see what flies sales-wise, but also a HUGE opportunity to meet other makers. Trust me- having maker friends who “get you” makes all the difference. Be friendly to the other makers at the show- you never know, you could be meeting a potential collaborator or retail partnership!
Treat it like an experiment
Remember- this is a huge learning opportunity. Try to treat it as an experiment, rather than a success or failure. Pay attention to the customers! How did they react to your products? What was the best seller? What questions came up most often? What could you do better next time?
We talk about a bunch more specific tips, and answer lots of FAQ’s in the live Q&A. If you’re considering entering a craft show, I strongly suggest you take a watch!
I really hope you enjoyed this interview! Make sure you’re subscribed to The Happy Ever Crafter TV to catch the rest in the series! And one last HUGE thank you to Amanda!
Interested in more of these interviews? You can also join the Facebook group, where these Q&A’s are hosted LIVE, and submit your own questions for future guests.