Craft Show Marketing 101

The Brave Art Lab Craft Show Consulting

It’s craft show season, and the Craft Show Consultants have been making the rounds. Now, we’re not craft show experts, by any means, but we do know what makes us stop, linger, and buy, and we know what makes us keep on walking…

We’ve seen plenty of crafts that are creative, imaginative, unique, and inspired, but we can’t help but notice that, sometimes, Product Presentation leaves much to be desired. So before you rush out to sell your wares, the Craft Show Consultants have a few pointers for you.

Top 8 Tips for Successful Craft Show Selling

1. Display is Key

Craft shows can be visual chaos. Help your wares stand out from the crowd with an eye-catching display.

Cover your table with a plain, neutral (dark grey works well) tablecloth so that your wares are easily visible and not lost in the pattern of your table covering.

Use a screen behind your stall to differentiate yourself from the other vendors. Pin one or two attention-grabbing pieces to the screen, or use it to display your sign. Don’t have a company sign? Make up a jazzy poster: Mittens for all your Kittens! or Cushion Your Tush! If you don’t stand out, you’ll be sitting down all day.

2. Clutter Kills, Simple Sells

Clutter is only fun at the flea market. This one is hard one to gauge and there is probably a formula or an algorithm you can use to determine how many items to put on the table before it reaches maximum capacity, but the Craft Show Consultants would prefer to leave the math to others…

You want enough products to entice, but not so many that eyes glaze over due to visual overload. Remember too, that your potential customers might be loaded down with bags and a cup of coffee. Make it easy for them to see all your wares without having to put their purchases down to paw through your products.

3. Help your customers buy your stuff

Now that customers can see your wares, make it as easy as possible for someone to buy your wares. If you are selling hats or jewelry, have several mirrors handy so people can admire themselves. If you’re selling sweaters or other clothing items, try to carve out a space where they can put down their bags and purses and try things on.

4. Avoid the Sympathy Smile: Don’t Sit

There’s nothing worse than watching people walk on by your booth, but sitting there staring at your customers can be extremely off-putting, no matter how enticing your wares may be. Stand up, rearrange, engage the passers-by. A simple “Hello” will at least make people pause. You might hate the hard sell, but by engaging people in conversation you’re more likely to get them to stop look, and purchase.

5. Energy Sells: Look Busy

Okay, so maybe you can’t stand all day, and there is only so much rearranging you can do, and maybe spontaneous conversation is just not your thing. The Craft Show Consultants get it. So here’s an idea: bring along a friend: a chatty, outgoing salesperson of a friend to help you out. This leaves you free to be busy making. People go to craft shows for the craftiness aspect. If they can learn about the process behind your wares, so much the better! It gives them a story to go along with what they’ve bought. Draw designs for your necklaces, sketch patterns for your hats. Sell painted rocks? Bring along a couple to work on. People will stop and watch you work and then your super-selling friend can close the sale.

6. Make an Email List for Future Sales

Business 101 says it’s easier to keep existing customers than to entice new ones. An email list makes it easy to announce your next craft show extravaganza or tell customers about new wares between craft shows. Entice people to give you their emails by offering a chance to win something on your table. Have a pen and clipboard handy, or set up a login page on your iPad. MailChimp Subscribe is a handy way of collecting emails, and you can personalize the sign-up page.

7. Get yourself a credit card processing app

Not only does this solve the problem of people running out of cash before they get to your table, but a payment app also gathers those email addresses for your database. This way you’ve landed the sale and created a ready-made mailing list. Here is a great article that talks about three Canadian small-business mobile credit card payment systems.

8. Compare, Contrast, Collaborate

Finally, for craftspeople who want to grow their business from basement hobby to going (and growing) concern, the Craft Show Consultants highly recommend the Three C’s. Take the time to walk around to other vendors. See who has a lot of visitors, and talk to them about their challenges and successes, ask about other shows they’ve participated in, see what might work for you. Grow your crafting network: ask for feedback. And criticism. Share your successes and the things that didn’t work. Be generous, and others will be too.

Have some craft show tips that have worked for you? Share your knowledge, and let us know where you’ll be selling your wares next!


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