Posted: Tue 19th Mar 2013
Craft fairs and shows are excellent places to sell products, meet customers and get your business in front of your ideal target audience. In this extract from the new House Beautiful Home Business book, Emma Jones explains how to present yourself in the right way at the right shows.
1. Pick your events
Decide on the type of craft fair you want to exhibit at - ie, where your customers are likely to be. Talk to other crafters and read blogs, websites, newsletters and magazines to track down the best fair for you to attend.
Look at location - is it out of town, meaning hotel and transport costs? Are there ways you could reduce your expenditure, such as staying with friends or sharing costs with another business?
Weigh up how much exhibition space you'll need and see what you can afford. Look carefully at what is included in the price - will they provide a table and chairs, electricity, an internet connection?
Make your application. Be clear about what you do, make and sell - the organisers may have thousands of people applying for space, so make their decision as easy as possible.
2. Plan your display and merchandise
There will be lots to do to get you ready to exhibit so here are some key points to start with:
Make a list of what you have in stock. Do you have enough of each product to take with you, or will you need to produce some extra stock? Will you be displaying prices on them, or will you have a price list people can refer to?
Your exhibition space will need to be decorated - think about sourcing items and backdrops that will highlight your brand, while showing off products to their best advantage. For example, if you sell handmade rings, don't lay them flat in a box but display them on a hand mannequin. If you sell clothing, do you need to take a mirror? Details can make the difference between someone buying your product or walking away.
Pack your marketing materials, including business cards, flyers and special offer leaflets.
Stock up on packaging. If you wrap your products up, it could be a nice idea to invest in some stickers with your logo and website details to seal the package. You could even look at customised carrier bags, which provide extra advertising as your customers wander around the fair.
Ahead of the event, ask organisers how the drop-off and delivery process works so you have enough time to set up your stall and get yourself ready before customers begin to arrive.
Consider whether you need public liability insurance to display your products.
Fair or trade show?
Fairs are generally about selling your products directly to the public, whereas trade shows are generally for trade only, where suppliers take wholesale orders and no direct retail purchases take place. You can of course exhibit at both, depending on whether you wish to sell to trade customers as well as the general public.
3. Master the art of networking
Trade shows are also an excellent opportunity for networking. Here are some must-dos for successful networking:
Wear your name tag (if you have one) on your right side. It's easy to catch sight of when shaking hands.
Deliver a firm handshake and make eye contact.
Say your name clearly and, in under ten seconds, tell the other person who you are and what you do.
Listen carefully. Ask the other person about their line of business, their family and hobbies, without being too intrusive or personal.
Be positive and energetic.
Swap business cards.
Send a 'thank you' email after the event, confirming any actions you and they have promised.
Keep in contact.
Get the handmade home business guide from just Â£5
Newly published in partnership with House Beautiful magaine, A House Beautiful Home Business by Emma Jones is the complete guide to starting a successful interiors, homewares or furniture business from home. It's available as both an ebook and a print book from the Enterprise Nation shop. Just click on the link below. [product id="67907"] Photo Credit: Col&Tasha via Compfight cc