Selling Your Work
I spent many years doing Christmas Shows and I loved getting to know and socialize with many of the other exhibitors, especially the regulars we saw each season. Some show organizers were wonderful and others were not so wonderful, but regardless of how they ran their shows their primary role is to bring people into the show. Whether you sell your wares or not is all on you. If you've got a good product and your prices are reasonable and the crowds show up then there should be no reason not to do well. Unfortunately I wish it was that simple. Coming from a marketing background I understand the importance of your store front display. I put a lot of effort, time and expense into the design of my booth and it paid off for me and for many of the other exhibitors. If you are interested in doing shows then here are a few basic tips and tricks that might help you create a better display and perhaps better sales.
1. Don't just use table tops to display your products. If you have 2 or 3 people in your booth all your products will be blocked from view. Use the height of your booth to create multi-level displays. Use a bookcase or risers on your table so people can see what you offer from far and near. If you are using tables, make sure your table covers are a solid color and reach the floor on all sides of the table.
2. Your backdrop is very important to showcase your work. If you don't have a backdrop then all the movement and sites behind you will interfere with your display. The most inexpensive way is a neutral fabric background and many shows provide pipe and drape enclosure or offer it an an extra cost. Take advantage of this or build your own backdrop. It can be shelving or wood panels.
3. Signage is super important. It should be big and it should be up high. Your customers need to see you whether they are in front of your booth or 100 feet away. Have plenty of business cards and additional signage and prices throughout your display. Your work will sell itself if the show gets busy.
4. Guest book - ask people to sign your guest book and leave their email address. Even if they don't buy from you this time, they are interested and intrigued. Use this to create a data base that you can reach out to when you do a show or have a sale or would like to introduce new works. I can't stress enough how important it is to keep track of your clientelle. With shows, 50% of my business was based on repeat business, 25% on referrals and 25% on new customers.
5. Don't hide behind your booth!! I see this all the time and I cringe every time. The message you are giving your customers is I'm shy, please don't talk to me, please don't buy my stuff. Instead, put yourself out there, engage with your customers, tell them your story, tell them the story behind your work - most of the time there is a connection that makes the customer want to buy from you. If you think about all the beautiful things you have in your home that mean something to you, there is a story behind them and you retell the story to your family and friends. What you need to do is sit or stand at the front of your booth - say hello - thank people for coming by - ask them if they need help - explain your story - ask them if they need help - point out special features etc. etc. etc.
6. Lighting - usually electrical power in your booth is an extra cost, but it is well worth it. Invest in some inexpensive clip-on lights. This highlight your work and your can showcase your best pieces. This makes a huge difference in how your work is perceived.
7. Finally - create consistency. If your thing is Christmas, create groupings of your works so that series or collections are identifiable. Many artists are trying to figure out what does well for them so they put everything they make in the booth. However by putting unrelated items in the same booth it looks like the work of several artists rather than just yours. Be consistent and this will help make your unique style recognizable.
In this photo you can see an example of one of my corner booth designs. On the left are my elves, followed by ornaments and then my Santa sculptures take up most of the display space and to anchor it I have a life sized Santa on the right. I use a black velvet backdrop and my tables are completely covered in black skirting which makes the products pop on the table. Over head are hanging pieces and my signage with plenty of spot lights focused on the four sections of my display.