by Amanda Hariri, Social Media + Marketing Manager
As we head into the holiday season with in-person events in full swing again, it’s natural to feel a bit rusty at the booth. Two years spent mostly indoors (and online) can turn the most sales savvy among us into rookies; and for those who identify as true introverts, stepping into the booth may always be a nerve-wracking experience.
One thing is for certain: No matter how compelling your offerings are, they won’t sell themselves.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of our tried and true tips for selling at craft fairs. You won’t find any sleazy sales strategies here—at GGC we lead with authenticity and transparency, and that includes our approach on the show floor. We wholeheartedly believe that no matter your personality type, sales can come naturally to you in a way that is, well, natural to you.
Read on for our best tips for effectively selling your work in person.
Get in the Right Headspace
Ever show up to an important event (an interview, a date, a wedding) late and spend the remainder of your time there in an adrenaline-fueled haze of regret, doubt, and anxiety? Nothing will set you up to fail in a social setting faster than turning up unprepared, rushed, or stressed. Sure—the rare and supernatural among us can parachute-drop themselves into a show and dazzle the crowd, but most of us are not so resilient.
Before you kick off any show, you need to check your external worries at the door and bring yourself to the present moment. This looks different for everyone, so take some time in advance of the event to determine what your “centering” process will be the day of your next big show. Maybe it’s a five-minute meditation. Maybe it’s eating a full meal. Maybe it’s dancing like a maniac to your guilty-pleasure song. Whatever it is, commit to it and clear your head of anything that’s going to distract you from the task at hand: selling your incredible work.
Walk the Floor
Once you’ve got yourself in the right frame of mind, you need to walk the show floor. This is non-negotiable. It’s important to understand the show from your potential customer’s point of view. What’s the flow like? How many booths are there? Who’s around you, and what products or services are they selling? What are these other vendors doing with their presentations? Last-minute tweaks are not always ideal (again, they can screw with your mindset and cause unnecessary stress), but it’s important for you to understand the event from a holistic perspective.
This way, when your customer approaches your booth, you’ll be able to empathize with where they might be at mentally. Was the line to the event around the block? If so, expect them to be frazzled or frustrated, and adjust your approach accordingly.
Now, this may seem silly or awkward, and that’s because so few vendors do this. Genuine, simple introductions are game-changers when it comes to breaking the ice with a stranger. Chances are, your go-to opening phrase puts the pressure on the customer to talk about themselves (e.g., “Hi, how’s your day?” or “What are you shopping for?”).
Fun fact—that’s probably everyone else’s strategy, too. Imagine being asked that 100 times in the span of a few hours.
From a customer’s perspective, that’s a ton of social effort to dish out again, and again, and again. It can be draining and anxiety-inducing. Would you ask a guest in your home to do the heavy-lifting? Treat your booth like your living room; it’s your responsibility to welcome your customers to your business.
Introductions are relationship-builders and demonstrate confidence and sincerity. When you show your customer you value them enough to make a personal introduction, it makes a lasting, positive impression that can lead to long-term retention.
Have doubts? Try it out at your next show, and report back to us!
Stay off Your Phone
This should go without saying. Nothing broadcasts “I’m BORED and NOT AVAILABLE” like scrolling through your feed in public. Now, at your booth? Well, that’s just disrespectful to your work.
Show up for your customer and your business by putting the phone away and staying present. If you absolutely need to check your notifications or make a call, step to the side and make it quick.
Make the Transaction Process Painless
Smooth selling isn’t just about your social skills! Ensure that every purchase made at your booth is accessible and effortless by bringing a credit card processor to each event. These days that may feel like a no-brainer with fewer people carrying cash on them, but a payment method oversight can be hugely detrimental to your sales. So check your packing list—check it twice!
You’ll also want to make sure you’re connected to speedy and reliable WiFi, or prepare to take payments offline. Technical difficulties are inevitably awkward for both parties, so the more prepared you are, the better your transactions will flow (and also sometimes know that things won’t go as planned, and that’s okay, too!)
Build Your Mailing List + Take Notes
Your sales strategy doesn’t stop once the event is over. In fact, what you do after an in-person event is equally (if not more) important than what you do during it.
Keep a clipboard handy for booth visitors to jot down their name and email address, and be sure to make contact with them in your next newsletter while you’re still fresh in their minds.
Did you have a hilarious interaction with a customer? Did someone mention plans to give your product to a loved one as a gift? Be sure to write that down. Keep a special notepad with you and take notes during slower periods. You don’t have to capture every moment, but having meaningful context to refer to when reaching out to customers is one of the most meaningful (and we’ll admit, tricky to master) ways to build lasting relationships with customers.
If we want you to take anything away from these tips, it’s this: The deciding factor for most sales is the way the purchase makes someone feel—not the product/service itself. Who you are, not what you offer, is the secret ingredient to selling at craft fairs and markets.
There’s no snazzy multi-step process you need to master. There’s no special phrase that will unlock sales for you. You simply have to be present, attentive, and intentional (and mindful of any logistical SNAFUs, as they will happen). Easier said than done? Yes. Well worth the effort and practice? Yes.
You’ve got this!
Need more support with craft fair prep?
You can also tune into our podcast episode “Craft Fair Tips” hosted by GGC founder, Phoebe.