Craft Shows are a great way to get a lot of people to see you and your knitting business in a short space of time. Plus there is the potential to make a lot of money too! But competition at large craft show events can be intense, so you need to know how to maximise your time and exposure to make the best of your investment.
I have displayed at many large shows, and have paid a lot of attention to which stands get the most customers. This is a great way to learn what works, and get innovative ideas for your craft show booth.
Here are 5 ways you can ensure that you get the most for the time, effort and money you invest into a craft show booth…
Tip #1 – First Impressions Are Everything!
Even though it sounds like common sense, it’s worth remembering that many customers are going to decide whether or not to come and look at what you have to offer based on their first impression of the stand as a whole. If you can catch their eye with something interesting, you are going to be getting more traffic to your stall, and traffic means business!
There are some little inexpensive tricks you can use to make your booth stand out (and you can do this for small markets and fairs too).
• Choose a colour and theme for your booth that suits your knit or crochet products. For example, if you produce knitted baby items, decorate as you would a babies room. Add props like a crib if they will fit (a dolls pram or crib is small enough to fit on a table and will attract attention), and use colours like pink, baby blue, light purple and light green. If you’re niche is organic and natural yarns, then add props like a potted plant, cardboard trees and a green and brown theme.
• Props are great! They attract attention and are excellent conversation starters. I have used mannequins, stuffed toys, plants, cardboard cut-outs, a model house, and even a racing car game (some of these were not for a craft show obviously!)
• Your main display table should be covered in a clean and ironed cloth (don’t laugh, I have seen some surprisingly scruffy looking displays in my time), of a colour that compliments or highlights the colours of your products. If your knitted products are mostly white, don’t use a white table covering, or your products will be lost in a sea of white.
• If you have been to the craft show event before, think about what colours everyone else tends to use, and choose a different one so you stand out. Make sure you pay attention to these things when you are at a craft show. Try to get time to look around at everyone else’s displays and make notes!
• Place boxes underneath the table cloth to give your display height and texture.
• Remember to decorate the walls of your booth, drape them with cloth or examples of your work. This adds height and depth to your display.
• If you are offered overhead lights for the booth, use them! They will make your stand brighter and more noticible – good light is one of the things that really isn’t worth skimping out on.
Tip #2 – Make It Easy For People To See, Touch And Try On Your Knitted Products.
Again this may sound simple, but if people can’t easily see and feel things, they will be less inclined to buy. The following ideas are straight from retail research about the way people shop and buy. All the large retailers use little tricks to get us to buy (like putting sweets at the checkout counter, or placing items they want to boost sales of in the front right hand side of the store because that’s where people tend to go first…)
• If you have racks of knitwear, make sure people can get easy access to them without having to squeeze past tables or boxes. Admittedly it can be very difficult to achieve this when you only have a space that is 3 metres square, but you need to get a bit creative with how you lay things out so people can get to your products. Try placing tables in a U-shape inside your booth so they can come right in and reach everything. Corner booths are good for stalls that have racks, so people can wander through them more easily.
• If you are selling knitted or crocheted clothing of any kind (even scarves and beanies), make sure you have a mirror that people can see themselves in.
• Try not to make people bend over to reach your products – if you have shelves, only use the ones that are at about hip height and above. When people have to bend over, they bump into other people and make everyone uncomfortable.
• Remember, you don’t have to display everything all at once! Don’t make your stand too cluttered or it will become confusing. Select a range, and if someone wants a different colour or size, you can get it out for them.
Tip #3 – Invite People In.
If you make eye contact with people and invite them in to your display, you’ll get much more traffic than if you stand mute and just hope they’ll come your way. I was always completely exhausted after a show because I spent the whole time talking and interacting with people. But it meant that we made good sales, and introduced as many people as possible to our business.
Tip #4 – Run A Competition.
This was by far the best way I found to excite interest in my stall, as well as get the names and addresses of lots of people who were interested in my products.
You’ll need to check with the event organiser and possibly register for a competition licence (check if there are local government regulations, the licence is usually easy and cheap to get), but it’s well worth the effort!
I usually gave away $50 to $100 worth of my products in a lucky draw – which was a small price for the extra traffic and interest in my stall. It’s a great, easy way to invite people in by asking if they would like to go in the competition. And after the show I would follow up with an email to say hello and remind them of my website.
Tip #5 – Brochures and Knitting Business Cards.
Vital for exposure and follow-up sales so make sure you have plenty on hand – and not just for customers, but for networking opportunities too! Craft fairs are a great place for meeting people who can help you and your knitting business. Retailers who want to stock your products, other crafters who you may want to work with, suppliers and wholesalers who can reduce your costs. So make sure you have professional business cards that clearly state your name, niche and contact details – see my post on Knitting Business Cards for more information.
I hope these tips will help you get the most out of your craft show investment, and also help if you have a stall at smaller craft fairs and local markets. If you have any other tips or ideas that you have found worked well at craft shows, please leave a comment for everyone below!