6 Ways to Boost Sales at a Craft Fair or Festival
Many artisans become entrepreneurs by accident. Your handmade holiday gifts somehow become a side hustle (or full-time gig), and you find yourself making extra cash creating something you love.
Of course, creating the product – whether it be handmade soaps or award-winning honey – is the fun part. It's the business side of things that can stop some makers in their tracks.
You may be asking yourself, "How do I get my crafts noticed and start making sales?"
One of the best places to network and build sales is by attending craft fairs and artisan markets. Not only do these events offer the opportunity to connect with people in your community, they also provide the chance to showcase your artsy creations in real life.
But it's not just about showing off – it's about getting sales.
Then the question becomes: How do you make sales and ensure success once your booth is set up?
We teamed up with Crystal Randolph, owner and artisan behind The Burning Wic – a hand-poured, natural candle company in the United States. Crystal is a regular at craft fairs in her city and shares her top tips below to help you succeed at craft fairs and festivals.
1. Stand Out
They key is to drive people to your area. You can have an amazing product but shoppers won't realise this until you hook them into your booth.
"I set up my booth at home days before an event," says Crystal. "I like to look at my layout and ensure it attracts buyers."
Ensure the decor is on brand and helps tell your craft business' story. Ultimately, this will make your booth inviting and drive people from the aisles to your stand.
"Sometimes I like to display fall decor in Autumn," says Crystal, "or brighten it up in the spring and summer months."
Adding some personality with your decorations can also help attendees make a connection with your company/products.
Build An Experience
Consider making your area interactive – people like to touch, feel, and sample (when applicable). Open the possibility for potential customers to fall in love with your product.
If you make soaps, for example, offer a little station where people can smell and test them. If you design necklaces or unique hats, set up an area with a nice mirror where people can try them on.
Additionally, you can offer in-booth games and giveaways to encourage people to walk over. Everyone likes free stuff and a fun activity.
If you have a solid understanding of your target demographic, appeal to their tastes. Playing music in the background, if allowed, can go a long way. It helps set a mood and gives your area a mini-store, "pop-up shop" feel.
Ask attendees to use your hashtag, tag your business on social media, or sign up for your email list, too. These are easy, engaging ways to draw people in.
2. Prepare Your Table
Presentation is extremely important and it's super simple to give your craft products a professional appeal.
Apply Product Labels
Branded labels that include your logo and product details go a long way. It helps show that you take your craft business seriously and take the time to pay attention to details.
"I've had people ask me if I'm a distributor because my products have such a high-quality look," says Randolph of her soy candles. "I take that as a compliment as they're usually shocked to find out I'm home-based."
OnlineLabels.com offers hundreds of labels for all kinds of goods. Used in conjunction with their free design program, Maestro Label Designer, you can create professional-looking products yourself.
3. Offer Discounts & Freebies
These little details go a long way, and people will remember and likely buy from you again.
Lower the Stakes
Offering discounts to event attendees not only entices them to make a purchase during the event, but can also help turn them into a repeat buyer.
"People buy more if they're getting a deal," says Randolph. "They feel appreciated and it helps create returning customers."
You could opt for a percent-off discount or BOGO-style promo during the event.
Give Something Away
Try including freebies with a purchase – whether it's a trial version of your product, something you over-produced, or simply an item that was low-cost for you to produce.
Another strategy is to include a coupon off their next purchase.
"I give my first-time customers a discount card to use for their next purchase," explains Randolph. "I also throw in free samples of the aroma beads and wax melts."
4. Be Prepared
This is your business' first impression to dozens of consumers. Make sure you're putting your best foot forward.
Estimate Product Sales
While it may be exciting to "sell out" of your product, it's not a good look when eager customers come to your booth only to find you have nothing left.
"Being well prepared inventory-wise is key," advises Crystal. "Not having enough inventory can reflect badly. Some people may see it as you're not ready to host large events or assume your business is not legitimate."
How do you decide what's "enough" inventory to bring for an event? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all. It really depends on your product and on the event.
"I inquire the expected attendance and bring about 8% inventory to accommodate (i.e. 15,000 expected attendees = 1,200 units)," says Crystal. "It's always better to have more than less."
Bring Marketing Materials
Of course, attending craft fairs and events is not just about selling products. It's also a huge promotional opportunity – a chance to get your craft (and business) out there.
In fact, unless you're spending money on advertising or hitting other events around town, it may be one of the only ways for people to discover you. This means you don't want to run out of promo materials including business cards and flyers.
5. Get Social
In a social media-driven world, being active on Facebook and Instagram is imperative.
So how do you use it to drive more traffic to your booth?
Create buzz online that you'll be at an event and talk about all the great things visitors can expect. Be your own brand ambassador:
- Put up Instagram Stories several days before the event showcasing some of the items you'll have for sale.
- Go live on Facebook just after you've finished setting up your booth.
- Post photos encouraging followers to tag your business or use your hashtag while at the event for a chance to claim a prize.
6. Don't Do Everything
Music festivals, farmer's markets, holiday pop-ups, heritage fests, charity events – it can be overwhelming to decide which events are best to attend and will maximise sales for your craft business.
Certainly not all events are created equal, and not all attract the right clientele for your product. So don't stress about having to set up a booth at every one.
Where do you start, then?
If you're a new artisan or just opening your business, consider attending a local craft fair to get a feel for things first.
"I recommend joining vendor groups on Facebook to stay in-the-know of local events in your area," says Crystal.
If you're more experienced or are hoping to attend larger events, websites like Festivals.com list hundreds of fairs and events going on across the country. A quick Google search can also do the trick.
Research The Audience
From music and food fests, to art and craft festivals, the options are endless. And depending on your craft product, certain types of events may attract the type of client who's more likely to buy from you.
"It's important to note that all fairs are different and cater to different markets," says Crystal. "If you find an event of interest, do research on it before spending the money to attend."
For example, say you create purses made from vintage LPs; setting up a booth at a music festival may be a good bet. Or if you create baby booties made of organic materials, an Earth Day festival or kids-focused event may be a good option.
"I had no clue of how to choose which event was best for me, so I spent a lot of money, attended a lot of events, and lost a ton in the process," says Crystal of when she began her crafting business journey. "The first year, I lost money attending events that weren't a good market for my product. I then began conducting research to determine which events were more suitable for me."
In other words, find events and festivals that cater to your niche. And remember, less is more. No need to overdo it.
All in all, Crystal's one piece of advice is this: "Smile, show excitement, and be yourself. People never forget the first impression. Do lots of research, contact event planners and ask questions before spending money, and ensure you have the appropriate amount of inventory available."
Tackle your next craft fair with confidence.
For more articles on marketing your small business, visit our Label Learning Centre.