5 Tips to Help You Prepare for a Craft Show

As the holiday season approaches, we are now getting ready to enter…craft show season (simmer now, we can hear your heavy applause and yells of joy from here!).

Craft shows are a little different than farmers’ markets. Typically it will be a one-day show. There won’t be time for a trial period to see which of your products perform, and what ones don’t, which can be challenging. Preparing for a show you may have never attended can be a challenge, but we know a few ways you can show up ready to rock!

Scope it out. Never attended this show before? That doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared. Especially if its an established annual show, the people behind the show’s organization will have an idea of who attends the event. Ask them questions about the projected attendee size, your setup area, what the demographics are, and how many (if any) other vendors there will be that are selling the same or similar products.

Plan your display. An organized, well thought out display will attract customers to your booth. Avoid a flat, plain display by adding stands, tablecloths, decorations, and signage. Be ready to stand out front of your table to place your product directly into the hands of your newest fans.

Plan for power. If your display will include lights or you need dedicated power to run a payment terminal, make sure that you check with the event coordinators well in advance. Some shows do not offer power to their vendors, and you don’t want to get stuck with no way to take payments.

In the case of needing to charge your phone to take payments, consider purchasing a few portable power banks to take with you. These light weight rechargeable devices often provide up to two charges for your phone; bring a few to make sure you’re covered!

Bring change. We aren’t talking about a rebellion here; we’re talking cold hard cash! Craft shows aren’t usually credit card affairs, most people bring cash and they’re ready to spend! Make sure you’re ready too and bring at least $50 in assorted change with you.

Create a seller’s survival kit. There are many little things you won’t realize you need until the time has come to use said things; a few suggestions for your survival kit:

  • Pens, a pad of paper, a roll of tape for any table or signage mishaps and product signage
  • Receipt book
  • Inventory management, whether it’s a ledger book or on a laptop
  • Fanny pack or apron, whichever you prefer-you need someplace to stash your cash!
  • A snack, aspirin and some water
  • Your business cards and bags for your customer’s goodies

Inventory, inventory, inventory. This is why knowing your audience before attending is so important. If the show is slated to be enormous and you are one of few or the only vendor of your kind that will be in attendance, stock up! Arm yourself to the teeth with products of different types and don’t be afraid to have a little back stock under your table, ready to be whipped out for customers should you sell out of your beginning stock.

On the flipside, if there will be two or more of the same vendor, and the show is not very large, don’t necessarily bring all of your stock. In this case, it would be acceptable to bring a somewhat limited but still diverse stock and advise your customers that they can order products from you that you haven’t brought. Throw in a goodie like a discount on shipping (or free shipping if you’re feeling extra gracious) and you’ll have a stack of order forms before you know it.

Final Thoughts 

Craft fairs can be fickle, but if you show up prepared, you’re must more likely to be successful. Be prepared for a variety of customers, sales and situations and most of all, enjoy the buzz leading up to the holiday season. Your customers will be in bright spirits, ready to buy your fabulous products for their loved ones, and you’ll enjoy success, too!

Marketing Your Business: The Facebook Edition

Love it or hate it, social media is one of the biggest platforms that small business owners have to advertise their business. Sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter provide a free way to get the word out about your business, and a relatable way to connect with your customers.

In this article, we’ll explore how you can use Facebook as a valuable marketing tool and reach not only the maximum number of people, but the most relevant audience.

Content 

It goes without saying that the content of your company’s Facebook page will truly decide if you succeed with your audience. Think of Facebook as less of a shout at people to buy your fantastic products, and more of a way to educate them about what you offer and relate to them so that they remember you when it’s time to buy.

With so much information displayed on Facebook, there are a few ways that you can show up in your follower’s newsfeed and not succumb to the dreaded unfollow.

Pictures 

Even our own research on our Facebook page shows that picture posts result in more engagement then standard text posts, and there is a very good reason why. Many users like hundreds of different pages and have hundreds or even thousands of friends on Facebook-this means that their newsfeed is likely jam packed full of material they have no interest in. This saturation of content means that they scroll quickly past posts that don’t apply to them at that moment-and don’t take a whole lot of time to read text-only posts that aren’t from their friends.

Posting related memes that are humorous makes you extra-shareable.

You can avoid being scrolled over by posting relevant, funny or artistic pictures that help to get your point across. For example, if you’re having a big sale on end of season items, place the word “sale” over a photo of one of your products. If you have written a blog post about formulating using pumpkin, use a picture of your soap with a pumpkin to illustrate. Lastly, if you come across a funny and relevant (and not offensive) meme, share it to your page. While it can be tempting to talk business all the time, resist! You will be more approachable and more likely to be shared and liked if your followers can relate to your material or get a laugh out of your posts.

Timing 

Another consideration when using Facebook or any other social media platform is the timing of your posts. There is a fine line to be walked; over posting may cause your followers to either unfollow or unlike your page, while posting too little will mean they may forget about you if the only interaction they get with you is through social media.

The timeline and frequency of your posts will ultimately depend on your audience. For some, the best time to post is first thing in the morning, once or twice a week. For others, their followers crave content and they post 2-3 times per day!

To gauge your audience’s interest, post three times per week at different times of the day (morning, afternoon and evening). This is an easy way to see on what days your page is most likely to be seen, and the optimal times. Facebook also offers the benefit of using insights once you reach a certain number of followers-these insights will provide useful information about demographics, peak times and much more.

Call to Action 

An effective post will have some sort of call to action. Are you advertising a product and want your customer to visit your site to purchase them? Are you accepting requests for customized products? Asking your customer to visit your site, subscribe to your blog or reach out to you are effective ways to have them do just that. Asking for engagement is much more effective than assuming your audience will engage on their own.

To Pay or Not to Pay 

Facebook has been and allegedly always will be free; this means that you can log in to Facebook, create your business page, and post on it to your heart’s delight without paying a cent. Easy, right?

Easy yes, free, sure…but not effective. If you want to reach more people and get more likes, follows and eyes on your product, you will want to consider boosting your posts.

A boosted post is visible not only in the news feeds of the people who like your page, but also in the news feeds of a targeted audience. You will be asked who you want to reach-this will include the age group, gender and location. For varying amounts of money, you can reach from a few hundred to tens of thousands of people. This all depends on your budget and goals.

Choosing a post to promote can be a little tricky. Before you boost your post, consider the following:

  • Is the post being received well before being boosted? Before boosting your post, allow it to sit on your page for a few hours to see if it’s popular. This is a good indication of whether or not a paid post will play favorably with a new audience.
  • Is the post time-sensitive? If the post is advertising a one day sale that is happening the day you plan to boost it, don’t boost the post. Boosted posts typically run for a few days, and if you post something with time-sensitive material, you may have confused followers later on.
  • Am I ready to answer questions? Boosting a post will mean that you will likely get more likes, follows and hopefully, more customers! Make sure that you’re able to answer questions about shipping, ingredients and pricing before you reach out to a wider audience.

Posting Video Content 

Along with pictures, video content is very important. Your audience wants to see who you are, how you make your products, and will engage with quality content. Many videos can be shot using a smart phone-time lapse videos are especially popular.

If you are currently posting videos on YouTube and want to share your videos on Facebook too, try using Facebook’s native video uploader to share them. Users are more likely to engage with videos that are already on Facebook, as opposed to links asking them to navigate away from the site.

Utilizing Groups 

Once you have built up a following, you may want to consider starting a group. Groups can be a useful networking tool, especially if you also teach classes and want to keep networking with students.

If you don’t feel that your content warrants a group, consider becoming a part of other industry-related groups so that you can lend your expertise to others. Make sure to keep your communications professional and non-degrading to fellow Handcrafters, and customers will naturally come to your business page to learn more about you.

Scheduling 

Making time to create a post every day can be difficult, but there are a few ways to make it easier. Facebook has native scheduling capabilities that allow you schedule multiple posts spanning multiple days. If you have more than one social media platform you’d like to post on, you can also use sites like Hoot Suite to post across platforms easily. Scheduling takes a bit of time, but is much more convenient then having to post everything individually, taking time out of your busy day.

Etiquette 

Etiquette is very important when it comes to your company’s Facebook presence. Social media is a big, open playground of free speech and opinions, and it makes sharing information and ideas both incredible and overwhelming.

Although it can be tempting to share political, religious or other relevant posts or memes, try to refrain from doing so on your business page. Especially if you utilize boosted posts, your followers will come from many backgrounds and opinions. Keeping your page neutral and inoffensive will help you to retain your followers and cultivate a respected presence online. Check out our article all about social media etiquette for more information.

Final Thoughts 

Facebook has revolutionized the way we connect with friends and loved ones, and has begun to change the business landscape too. Keeping in mind these simple ways to grow and maintain your Facebook presence will help you use this platform to it’s fullest potential so that you can get more customers and sell more fantastic products!

Growing Your Business: 5 Ways to Connect With Your Customer

Digital life is an incredible thing. With social media, Handcrafters are able to reach more customers than ever before. No matter whether you sell in person or online, one thing is very important: connecting with your customer. Take a look at five things you can do to connect with your customer and move those fabulous products!

Be genuine. Customers can tell when you are not being genuine. Take an interested approach to conversations with your customer; don’t make them feel like you are too busy, or that they are bothering you. Oftentimes, you’ll be approached or contacted by someone who is curious about the process. Although it can take awhile to explain, don’t miss the opportunity to educate a customer-remember that if your customer is educated and excited about your product, they’ll spread the word and bring you more business.

Be honest. Don’t claim that your product can do something it can’t. Claiming your product can treat a skin condition, reverse hair loss or take 10 years off your customer’s face will get you sales, but it will also mean a herd of angry, unsatisfied customers later…not to mention an uncomfortable call from the FDA.

Be punctual. If you are attending a farmers’ market or have a brick and mortar location, punctuality is very important. Your customers are expecting you and your products to be available during the advertised hours-make sure you don’t let them down. 

Being punctual makes you look competent and organized.

This also applies when it comes to shipping products; have a timeline and stick to it. If you tell your customer that you will ship within two days, don’t put it off for five. If you have a customer who has asked for a special order, give a realistic timeline of completion-they will appreciate your punctuality when you deliver.

Be helpful. There are many reasons why a customer seeks out bath and body products (we know at least 6 reasons why ). Sensitive skin is one of those reasons. You don’t want to make any medical claims, but the opportunity to help someone with an allergy find a great product that they can enjoy will help you build a loyal customer base; as long as you are willing to put in a little extra time to help.

Be the bigger person. We are all guilty of gossiping from time to time, but this type of cattiness has no place in a business setting. Your customers will not respect you if you consistently trash talk other Handcrafters; it will make them

Gossip is a slippery slope that will make it difficult for customers to trust you.

uncomfortable, and they will not come back. If a customer asks about a competitor, politely steer the conversation back to your obviously fabulous products in a neutral way that is not an attack. Sometimes it can be difficult to take the high road, but it is always worth it.

Customers want a positive, welcoming experience from start to finish. Take a few moments to connect with your customers, and you’ll reap the benefit of a loyal customer base for years to come.