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El's Cards on the Road-Craft Show Tips

It has been seven years since we started participating in art and craft shows with our stationery products!  Recently, one of my former brides had mentioned that she and her husband were thinking about selling a new product at shows.  It got me thinking about some helpful hints for someone just getting started.  Here are a few tips/ideas that could help someone just getting started on the craft show journey. Doing shows has been a great way to market ourselves and these hints have really helped us to succeed everywhere we go.

-Be prepared-Although I am not a fan of the "practical gift", I must admit that I was excited to receive a new tool box for Christmas a few years ago from Bob!  It had compartments for all the little things we need at shows....ribbon, scissors, pens, calculator, business card container, tacks, clips, tape, odd signage, etc.  We have all kinds of possible supplies we may need at a show, and bring it with us everywhere.  We leave it packed up so it's never a question of "did you pack the scissors"?  Because the special show scissors are always in there.

-Have a price point for everyone-Wouldn't it be nice if everyone had hundreds of dollars to spend on an original painting?  My theory on this....why shouldn't everyone be able to enjoy beautiful things?  We have something for everyone at the shows....from $4-$70....and all prices in between.

-Start a "Show Fees" bank account if you are considering doing shows every year.  This was a great decision I made when entering our third season of doing shows.  Typically, the applications (and table fees) are due in winter where money is less predictable.  After each show that year, I set aside the table fee that we spent on that show in a special bank account. Then the next year, when I went to apply to that show again, I just transferred the money to our business checking. The money cycles through year to year.  Plus, it gives us a truer picture of what we are actually making at a show.

-Find your people-This one sounds obvious....but it can really take a couple of years to determine your best audience.  There are many shows where we do exceptionally well....those are our people!  We have been participating in those shows for years and we have regular customers who come back again and again to see us.  To note...we like to try a show at least twice (unless it is a total dog....) before we make a final decision.

-Bring plenty of business cards-Even if we don't have a banner sales day, we always give out as many business cards as we can.  Often, people will reach out after meeting us at a show about wedding invitations...or will just go straight to our website and place an order.  Every show is a marketing opportunity.  (And don't forget that the show fees add up and are a great tax deduction)

-Talk to the other crafters-I have met some great people at shows. Other crafters are a great resource for learning about what shows are favorites, and why you may or may not do well somewhere. I feel so lucky to have met the great people who I have met over the years to help steer us in this direction or that when planning our show season.  Of course, I do love to chat!  So this is always a highlight for me of any event!  I love meeting people.

-Pack a lunch and bottles of water-We LOVE to eat out! That said....we always bring a lunch and plenty of water to the shows.  Who knows when (or if) there will be a moment to break away for food or to grab a drink. Better to be prepared! I know I get cranky when I get hungry so it's much less stressful having some good choices with me.  And what I like to call "dynamic snacks"-like hummus and veggies, rice crackers and guacamole, dark chocolate covered almonds...you get the picture!

-Manage your space-Having different heights of displays and professional looking signage is inviting to your customers.  The first show we did, we had all of our cards in baskets on a table.  People couldn't see them!  The difference in investing in some spinning racks has made all the difference in our card sales.  When setting up, we are also mindful that there is plenty of space to walk around in our tent (or space if indoors).  People won't come in if it's not inviting and easy to move.

-Most importantly, have reasonable sales expectations.  Every crowd is different and you never know if a conversation you have with a customer will lead to another job down the road. We always keep out our book of wedding examples, and have booked several weddings from people who bought items from us at shows.  You never know when your customers will remember you. 

-Best of luck to you! Hope you have a great show season. If you are looking for us this holiday season, you can find us at our shows listed here.