Surviving your first trade show or craft fair

Surviving your first trade show or craft fair

Posted: Mon 23rd Sep 2013

You've been 'working 5 to 9', honing your craft in the evenings and weekends, now you're ready to take your business idea into the realm of reality. If you're ready to display your work at a trade show or craft fair, here are some tips to make the most of the opportunity and to stand out from the rest.

Why exhibit your products at a trade show or craft fair?

For most businesses, there are three main priorities:

  1. Selling. If you've a product, then this is clearly your first priority. An obvious measurement of how well you did will be whether you went home with more money than your initial outlay.

  2. Networking: Most likely, you'll already know something about other businesses in your area, but if not then this is the perfect time to network. Craft businesses, especially, work well together and you can also get some great business advice from those that have more experience.

  3. Promoting: Working with your customer doesn't need to end in a sale. If you can get their attention and you have an interesting enough concept that they want to get involved some other way (joining your Facebook page, signing up for your newsletter) then this is still an excellent step towards a conversion!

So, with those three goals in mind, here are some handy and simple-to-follow tips for your first craft fair or trade show stand.

How to stand out at a trade show or craft fair

  1. Create an attractive stand and take the time to make it really visually appealing. If you can afford it, get a display or some other eye-catching attraction that will make people interested. As most stands are hip height, getting something above people's heads is a quick and simple way to make your stand instantly noticeable.

  2. Make your products sparkle, if appropriate, and try to find inventive ways to display them at different heights for an appealing display. This also takes advantage of what limited space you may have.

  3. Stay away from your phone and tell others on your stand to do the same. Nothing puts off a potential customer as much as it seeming as though you aren't even interested. Also, try not to sit down (which leads us neatly to the next point"¦).

  4. Wear comfortable shoes - you will most likely be on your feet all day at your stall. Sitting down can give the impression of disinterest, so it's better if you're standing up, ready to engage!

  5. Take regular short breaks to avoid burning out. Drink water and keep yourself hydrated. Also, take a few snacks in case your stand is incredibly popular and you're unable to leave to get food!

  6. Holding your own event, such as a how-to, can be a great way to pull people back to your stand but make sure you have space. An alternative could be offering people to book for small tutorials at the stand or at your own location for free.

  7. If you're choosing a venue that gives you a choice of stands, try to pick somewhere that's likely to have people milling around. The entrance is great for being the first stall people see as well as for people hanging around waiting for friends to show up. Near stages is also a great choice for craft fairs that will also have performances. If you have a sweet or cake stall then being near the refreshment area is also a great choice.

  8. Talk to other stalls around you - it can pass the time during slumps and is the best chance for networking with like-minded businesses. This can also be applicable during setting up and taking down your stand, so you don't risk alienating a customer.

With these tips in mind, you can create a great looking and professional business stand that will hopefully run like clockwork. Craft fairs and exhibitions are a fantastic way to make money and promote your business, but every stall is unique. Make up your own tips for success that are tailored for you!

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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