The thrill of being accepted into your favorite craft show is exhilarating. You get to announce the news on your social media streams, add the show to your event calendar and watch all the likes roll in.
But likes don’t equate to sales. Even at the best craft shows, with the most loyal customer bases, it can still be hard to stand out among the aisles of other amazing creative entrepreneurs who were also selected. Relying on just the craft show’s own marketing is never enough.
So how can you build your customer base and perhaps attract some new retail accounts at a craft fair?
Explore the city around you
Whether you’re heading to a new city or participating in an event in your own backyard, finding new shop owners who might want to carry your work can add to your bottom line. Locally owned boutiques, museums and gift shops are taking in more handmade items and are always looking for unique talent to bring to their customers. Being able to direct potential shoppers to where they can find your products locally is a way to continue to grow a relationship.
Reach out to these shop owners with an amazing sales pitch, inviting them to view your work in person at the upcoming event. Find some common ground — point out how your customers share an aesthetic with theirs. Express your willingness to work on a consignment agreement or pitch an introductory wholesale rate for new shops.
Seek out the local newspapers and other media outlets and send a story pitch to an editor, producer or reporter. The event organizer can assist if you aren’t sure where to start, and may also offer up a list of outlets they currently work with. Perhaps they can even provide you with their contacts and email addresses—saving you half the work.
The news media are hit up all the time, so make sure you WOW them with what makes your product or story worthy of coverage. If this is your first time selling at this fair, play up that angle, and be sure to explain what makes your product unique. Do you have an exclusive line of work specific to this event or region? Will you be hosting a live demo that could also make a great live segment on a TV station? Also, be prepared to make high-quality photographs available for print outlets.
Tried-and-true mailing lists
There’s no better way to directly reach your customers than offering them a chance to learn more about you through your company’s mailing list. Don’t have a mailing list yet? This is the perfect chance to start. To entice folks to sign up, be sure your newsletter will contain valuable content. Perhaps all new sign-ups will receive a discount code, or maybe you’ll continually create content explaining how customers can keep up with maintenance of your products. And inform subscribers of how often they can expect new emails, whether it’s once a week or once a month. Hand out a business card with newsletter subscription information to everyone who stops by your booth, tell them where you’re from and how they can find you online (reminding them they can sign up online too!).
Social media targeted campaigns
Boosted campaigns on social media networks can allow you to attract new customers by focusing the reach to a specific city or region. If you live in Philadelphia but are attending an event in Detroit, targeting customers in your hometown will have little effect. For as little as $7 on Facebook, you can create a boosted ad that will target shoppers who live in the city where you’re headed.
Reaching out to other crafters
If you are still unsure what new markets and retail shops might be best for you, reach out to a few of the show’s other vendors and make new friends. Crafters tend to help each other out. The event organizers are also available to help guide you toward a successful path.
Once you’ve reached out to as many outlets as you can, follow up with them one week before and one week after the event. And don’t forget to send out those emails to everyone who signed up for your newsletters or purchased something from you.