5 Questions to Ask BEFORE You Commit to a Craft Show
By Laura Bray
Most of us have experienced it...eight hours of standing behind our table at a craft show and no sales. All the time and money spent with no return! It's one of the most frightening and sad elements of doing shows. Many times, I have watched artists and crafters end their career over one failed show. Our work is so personal that we sometimes (often incorrectly) blame ourselves for the failure. But your work is rarely why a show fails. There are many factors that contribute to a poor show-some are out of your control and some are within your control. In this economy, it's more important to do what you can to make sure that the odds of a good show are stacked in your favor. Here are some things to think about BEFORE you decide to participate in your next craft show:
1. Remember your target market! If you sell indie style crafts, don't sign-up for a show that's going to draw a crowd that doesn't "get" the indie movement.
2. Ask the organizers how they are going to advertise. If you are paying a booth fee, they should be doing some pretty serious advertising, including newspaper ads. Ask them how big the sign for the show will be (outside the venue) and if it will be seen from the street. (This will tell you if there will be any walk-by traffic.) Again, keep your target market in mind. If you are sell primarily kids stuff, you may want to ask the organizers if they are planning on inviting any moms groups.
3. Balance new shows with annual shows! While there is something to be said for being a trendsetter, you need to balance first-time shows with some old reliable ones to ensure that you are spreading your risks around. If it's not the show's first year, be sure to find out who has done previous shows and get references from them. The show organizers shouldn't have a problem giving references. If they do, it might be a red flag.
4. Find out who is already signed up. Does their style complement yours? If not, you may want to go back to question one and think about the odds of your target market coming to this show. Ask the organizers if they will be utilizing category limits. Will you be the only one selling jewelry or will you be the 20th vendor selling jewelry. Your work might be the best of the 20, but I personally get bored by the 5th jewelry booth and stop looking.
5. Finally, ask the organizers if they are allowing manufacturered items in the show. It's a personal preference, but I prefer not to work in shows that have tons of multi-level marketing booths. It just doesn't work with my product mix. I also hate to go to shows like that. When I go to a crafts fair, I want to see handmade items. It's hard to compete on pricing with manufacturered goods. People lose site of the fact that your items are made by hand and are special and are priced accordingly, but it's even harder to convince them of instrinsic value when a cheaply made manufactured item is at the next booth.
These questions should get you started on finding the most successful craft shows for your products. There are always exceptions to the rules, so use these questions as a guideline and use your common sense. I don't have to remind you that you should always be professional when dealing with the show organizers, do I? They should expect these questions to be asked, but please ask nicely. Most show organizers genuinely want to help artists and crafters and should definately be appreciate for their efforts and treated with kindness and respect.
I would love to hear about your craft show experiences! Go to my blog and leave a comment about your story.
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