As makers and creatives, a market event can make all the difference for selling your homemade products when it’s done right.
I often like to share a story about a client or a number of clients who've had an experience. Here I’m actually going to share my own personal experiences.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know I owned a handmade business for over a decade. I started out extremely small. It grew it to the point where I was outsourcing manufacturing and I was working with a sales rep.
My products were being carried in shops up and down the mid-Atlantic region. Even so, I made plenty of mistakes along the way.
Vendor events were extremely challenging for me when I first started out.
When I was running my product-based business making bags, I had no idea what I was looking for in an event that I participated in. Nor did I know how to leverage and capitalize on it while I was there.
So you may wonder, what were these craft fair mistakes I was making when first starting out?
With that said, here are the biggest mistakes makers commit when choosing a vendor event 👊
Let me share the lessons I personally learned as I grew and evolved over the 10 years of running my business.
My hope is that you can implement these ideas, cut years off of your process, and start scaling much faster than I did.
One of the first mistakes I made is that I was not focusing on the audience of the markets.
I was making bags for knitters and crocheters and I just signed up for events. I didn't pay attention to what kind of audience it had.
I thought getting in front of anybody was a great idea. And that everyone would know someone who knits and the exposure would help grow my business.
As it turns out that market was not my target audience. The people who came had very different hobbies and interests. It was the wrong demographic, which meant I made almost no sales and left there feeling frustrated and disheartened.
I thought I wasn’t cut out for this and that my products weren’t good.
If you’ve felt this way too, you’re not alone. The reality is you need to shift your thinking and realize it just wasn't a good audience match.
You don’t want to invest money into a booth as well as your time preparing displays, setting up, tearing down, and the duration of the event to barely make a thing.
It took me time to figure out what I was doing wrong and why I wasn't seeing the sales that I thought I could reach.
This is why you want to be clear on who your target audience is so you can make sure you're doing the right events.
If you deliver high quality, one-of-a-kind original artwork, a church's craft show is probably not going to put you in front of the right people.
You won’t regret taking the time to think about your target audience and researching the audience of the market so you can make sure it’s a good fit for your product.
To a certain extent, all product-based businesses have some sort of seasonal products. The key is to figure out what resonates the most during different seasons.
Not only that, it can help you package your products in a promotional way that will appeal to your customer and increase sales.
For example, let’s say you’re doing a Christmas market. This is a great time to heavily promote gift bundles where you're packaging three or four complimentary products that make an amazing gift.
I’m sure you’ve walked into a big box store and found a bath and body gift set.
Just like this, you want to package your products in this way to appeal to someone who is looking to buy a gift bundled and ready to go.
And how thoughtful it is to give your uniquely handcrafted one, designed for the woman who needs relaxation and calming, over something generic you can find at the store.
Hopefully this sparked an idea so you can take advantage of running a promotion that matches the season and get the most out of events.
You’ll want to take the time to think about how to encourage people to continue connecting with your business long after your booth comes down.
For some people, it can be a sign up for your email list.
For other people, it may be inviting them to like you on Facebook or Instagram.
You can make it easy by having a QR code that takes people directly to an email sign up or social media page.
Another thing you can do is when someone makes a purchase, include a card that says, if you love this product, we encourage you to come check us out.
Then you can send people to where you want them to interact, whether it be a website, social media, or other page.
This can be done even if someone is buying it as a gift. You could say you're including a card for the gift recipient in case they love it and want to reorder.
The important part is that with every interaction you have a way to invite people into your audience. This allows you to build your audience and continually keep your business at the top of people’s minds.
Once you have signed up for an event, you can’t stop there.
It’s time to promote.
And not only to your own audience, you’ll want to find out where the organizers are promoting the event.
If it’s a Facebook event, take advantage of the organizers’ marketing efforts by commenting and sharing what people will find there.
They will love the support because it's going to increase their visibility and engagement. And for you, it gets eyes on your products ahead of time. People will arrive already knowing they want to check out your booth. Who doesn’t want that?
If it’s a local event, send out a press release to the paper about the event and your business that will be there. Even if they don’t put it in their paper, they may post it on their social media.
These pre-market promotion ideas will boost your success.
Then once the event is over, go the extra mile with post-market promotion. This is a chance to highlight all of the amazing people you met.
Thank the organizers for putting it together and what you enjoyed.
Spotlight the other vendors you met by tagging them in social, which can broaden both their audience as well as your own.
Share what some of your best sellers were and when people can expect to see them back in stock on your website.
This will engage and pique people’s interest after the event, even those who may not have attended.
If you miss the opportunity to promote before and after your event you'll certainly be leaving money on the table.
If you’ve ever come back from a craft vendor event feeling like you spent more time and money than it was worth, you’ll want to consider these top tips for next time.
First, make sure your product is a good match for the audience. Before you go to the events, identify what people will be interested in and make sure you're promoting it correctly.
Second, consider the seasonality of your products and what can make a good bundle of products.
Third, build your audience. Invite everyone to connect with you on social media or join your email list, even if they weren’t buyers.
Finally, make sure you're leveraging any opportunities to market before or after the event.
The benefits include promoting the event itself beforehand, bringing in additional audiences, getting people excited and ready for your products, highlighting the event and other vendors afterwards, and keeping a buzz going about your best-selling products.
If you thought these tips were helpful, then you won’t want to miss my 7 unique tips to generate more traffic to your vendor booth. Incorporating these ideas will surely give you an edge over your competition.