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Craft Show Tip: Display Design

Craft Show Tip - Display Design

A well thought out and carefully planned craft show booth design can be the difference between everyone stopping in to see what you’re selling and people just walking by.
Your displays are so very important. We want to think that our products are what is most important (and they are, of course), but you have to get someone to walk up to or in your booth before they can make a purchase.

The questions here will help you get thinking about the displays you’ll use in your booth. Simply answer all the questions and you’ll be on your way to a great booth!

After you complete the questions, I would love to hear what your ideas are! See the “homework” assignment at the end.

Display Design Worksheet screenshot

Click the image above to get a PDF of this worksheet so you can download, save and/or print!

Display Design Worksheet

1.  What do you sell? Describe it in detail.

2.  How would you describe the style of what you sell? (Elegant, fun, whimsical, industrial, etc.)

3.  Who are your customers? Describe as much about them as you can. If you don’t actually have any customers yet, you can make it up for now. As you start doing craft shows you will find out more and more about them.

4.  What would you like to convey to your customers? Think about this from afar. What message do you want to give them before then even set foot into your booth so they know this is a booth they should come in?

5.  What colors fit into your style?

6.  What types of displays do you need? (i.e. necklace displays, displays for scarves, etc.)

7.  Brainstorm some ideas of what kinds of displays you could use to convey your message. Think outside the normal realm of what craft show displays are. Set a timer for 15 minutes and write down everything that comes to mind, regardless of if you think you can pull it off or not.

8.  Now look at that list from the previous exercise and go idea by idea. Think of creative ways you could put the idea into practice. If it’s not logical, how could you make it more so? Maybe you could do it on a smaller scale. Think about the feeling you are trying to convey with that idea and how you could convey that feeling in a different way.

For example, if you sell flip flops that you crochet or decorate in unique ways, you might want to have a beach or a boardwalk in your booth. Maybe it’s not practical to make an entire beach out of your stand, but maybe you could have a tray or a table that holds sand you could display your flip flops on. Maybe you could create the look of a boardwalk in your booth or make the top of your tables into mini boardwalks.

9.  Now take it a step further. How could you put this together? What do you need to accomplish this?

10.  Consider that you’re going to have to carry this around to craft shows. How mobile is your idea? How can you make it more so? How can you make it light? How could you make it easy to put up and take down.

From my flip flop example, what can you use to construct a beach? Maybe you could just use a small tray that fits a couple pairs of flip flops that you could fill with stand or maybe several trays. You could have a tub that you carry the sand in and just fill up the trays at the show. At the end of the show you dump the sand back in the tub and pack up.

11.  What do you need to learn or who can you call on that has the skills you need?

In the flip flop example, you may not have constructions skills to make a mini-boardwalk on a display table, but maybe your bother does. Maybe you want to make a big tray for the top of a table. Can you construct it? Who has the tools or skills you need to accomplish it?

Your ideas don’t have to be big and grand like that. In my Craft Show Tips eBook I dissect my booth display for you. My craft show booth doesn’t have any big, extravagant pieces, but I always get a lot of compliments. I always have a lot of people coming in my booth. I use colors and unique display pieces to convey my style and to attract the customers that want what I sell.

Make sure to take the colors from the question above into consideration as well as your style and who your customers are.

12.  Now, make a list of everything you need. Reevaluate if it is practical for traveling to craft shows, setting up in the morning before a craft show and of course tearing down and traveling home with it. Do you have room to store the displays in between shows?

Next week I’ll be talking about where you can get displays (traditional places and not so traditional places). Have your list ready and I’ll have ideas for you to actually start pulling your booth together.

Email me (Kim@KimberlieKohler.com, put Craft Show Display in the subject line) your list of everything you need from the last question. I would love to address specific ideas you have and give you ideas of where to get them!

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Craft Show Tip: 5 Reasons to Love Doing Craft Shows

Craft Show Tip:  5 Reasons to LOVE Doing Craft Shows

Craft Shows are great for so many reasons.  They are such a great way to get in front of your customers in person and hear what they are saying about your art.  There aren’t a lot of opportunities to meet and network with other artists and crafters, but craft shows give you that opportunity.  You’re out in public, showing your art and it can be a wonderful – even if scary – thing to do.

Here are 5 reasons to love doing art and craft shows:

1.  You get to meet your customers.  If you sell online it’s difficult to get to know your customers.  Of course, there are ways and you’ll certainly get to know your most loyal customers even online, but craft shows are one of the only ways you’ll meet them face to face.

It’s exciting and can be scary as well.  You’re not a faceless maker on the internet.  You are a real person with real feelings.  They might not like everything you make.  (Here’s a spoiler:  not everyone will like what you make.  Not even the people who like some of your stuff will like it all.  Be ready for it.)

Some people will be mean.  They still won’t notice the person standing there who actually created all of the stuff they’re looking at.  You will be background for some of those people.  It happens.  You can be ready for it so it doesn’t hurt you so much.

But by and large the vast majority of the people will have nice comments for you.  They’ll say what they like.  They’ll tell you what they would love to see from you and that can help you shape your future creations.  You can see what they’re looking at, what they buy and what they walk away from.  You can find out how the public reacts to your art.

Use this all as an opportunity to learn about your market and what they love and don’t like.

2.  You make fans so much easier at craft shows than online.  You can get their email address and keep in touch with a newsletter and they’ll remember meeting and talking to you so much more than if they stumbled across your website.  I have found my most rabid collectors are from craft shows.

If you are able to take custom orders, this is even more the case.  People love personalized, custom work.  They’ll definitely remember you and call on you for more pieces in the future once you have made them a custom piece.

3.  You get to meet fellow artists and crafters.  This has been one of the best things about craft shows for me over the years.  Working for myself mostly alone it’s easy to feel like there’s no one who gets what you’re doing.  Meeting people who do what you do makes you feel more like a part of a community.  It’s energizing.  I have met lifelong friends doing craft shows.

4.  You get to have your own little store for a day.  No one decides how your booth will look except for you.  (Unless you’re doing a show with specific rules about this.)  You get to put your own creativity and design aesthetic into your booth design.  Unless you have a store or some sort of permanent retail space you don’t get this opportunity in any other way.  It’s another way to express yourself and express your art to your customers.

5. You make money.  When you strip everything away, you’re really doing a craft show to make money.  The best part is you leave with that money at the end of the day.  No waiting for a check to come at the end of the week.

Ready for craft shows?  Get prepared for your show from applying to planning your booth, what to do during a show and tearing down with my Craft Show Tips eBook.

Click here to learn more about it and get your copy today!

Craft Show Tip: 7 Reasons You Should Be Planning for Craft Shows Now

Planning for Craft Shows

We’re coming to the end of January.  Do you know what craft shows you’re doing this year?

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute.  It’s January.  Isn’t it a little early to start planning?”

We just got through the holidays and spring seems a long way off, but yes, it is time to start figuring out what craft shows you want to apply to.

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Planning for Craft Shows Now:

1.  It’s great to know what shows you’ll be doing for the year so you can have an idea of the amount of products you’re going to need to produce to get ready for the shows.

Each show you’ll do you’ll sell your products and you’ll need more.  You’ll need to have an idea of how many things you’ll need to make per week to get ready for each show.

2.  Some craft shows have early deadlines to get in.  If you check now you can probably still get in (except for some that may have yearlong waiting lists or very early application deadlines.)  Make sure you’re sending in your application on time to make sure you get into the shows you want to do.

3.  The new Art and Craft Show Directories just came out for the year.  You can go through and pick out what shows you want to go for, see prices, what they require and find out how to apply.  I usually find mine at a craft supply store.

4.  If it’s a really popular show, you might need to get on a waiting list.  Better to take care of that now.  I know for the big craft show in my hometown if you apply in January or later they’ll look at your application for the following year.  (The show is in August.)   But if you keep waiting you’ll never get on that list.

5.  You can plan your schedule and then print it up to give out or post it on your website.  The sooner you know what shows you’re doing, the sooner you can tell people.

6.  Now is a great time to work on your booth design and work out any kinks and design what components you’d like to add.  Then you can start gathering/building those components now to get ready for Craft Show season.

7.  You can buy my Craft Show Tips eBook and read and study it so you’re prepared when craft show season hits.

I hope you’ll start thinking about getting ready for craft show season now.

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Craft Show Tips: Newsletters

Craft Show Tips:  Newsletters

Having a newsletter or email updates is important for any business whether you’re doing craft shows or not.  You need a way to keep in touch with your customers so they remember you and all the cool stuff you make.

But today we’re focusing on how newsletters can help you get and keep customers at craft shows.

What’s a newsletter?

First let me clarify what I mean by a newsletter.  I don’t mean those flyers you used to get in the mail, although that is a newsletter.  What I mean is simply email updates.  Someone gives you their email address and says it’s okay for you to email them.  Then you send them updates.

The email updates you send do not have to be big newsletters full of different articles and information.  In fact, it’s probably better if they’re not that because then you can send them a focused email that’s just about one thing.

So for example, say you have a craft show coming up in a week.  You can send out an email specifically about that craft show.  You can show your subscribers some new things you’ll have at the craft show that they may be interested in purchasing.  You can give them some information about how to get to the show and where your booth will be.  But the entire email is just about that one show.

You can, of course, choose how often you’ll send out newsletters.  You want to send them enough that people don’t forget about you, but not so much that they’re annoyed by you.  Most importantly, you should send them exactly how often you say.  So if you’re doing a monthly newsletter, make sure you send it monthly.  If you’re doing a weekly newsletter, send it weekly.  Once every two weeks might be perfect.  Just make sure to be consistent.

To comply with laws, you need to use an email newsletter provider, such as Mailchimp (what I use) or others.  Do not send mass emails through your email account.  It’s not allowed and it’s considered spam.  The email newsletter provider takes care of making sure you do all that legal stuff that needs to be done like having a unsubscribe button.

6 Tips for Using Newsletters at Craft Shows

1.  If it is your first craft show you probably don’t have any customers besides your friends or family yet.  Interested folks will come into your booth.  They may buy that day or they may not for a number of reasons.  (I touched on this a little last week.)

If you have a newsletter, you can ask them to sign up on a form with their name and email address.  Then you can add them to your newsletter list and send them reminders of upcoming craft shows and what you sell so they remember you and come find you at your next show.

Some people will just sign up automatically when they see it.  You can nicely ask other people who seem interested to sign up.  If they’re looking a lot and don’t purchase you can ask them to sign up or you can mention it as you’re ringing up the order of people who do purchase.

2.  Let your customers know when and where your next craft show will be.  I mentioned this above, but you can tell them about the show, if there’s something unique about it, special entertainment, where it is, the hours, where your booth will be in the show (if you know), how to get there if it’s not easy and what else they can expect.

Is it a festival with special music or entertainment?  Will there be children’s activities?  Is it for a special cause?  Is it a beautiful location?

3.  Show your customers your new stuff.  If you have new products send them photos of them to entice them to come to your next craft show.  Even if you don’t have anything new, you can send photos that will remind them of what you sell and why it’s so great and how it works.

4.  You might want to give your schedule for the next month or so of craft shows so they can mark their calendars.

5.  If there’s something interesting or unique about a craft show you’re doing, give them a “survival guide” or a “must see guide.”  Maybe something like this blog post I did for a huge craft show in my hometown.  Maybe a list of things they “must see” in the town you’re doing the craft show in.  Be creative and brainstorm some ideas.

6.  You could offer a discount coupon for a percentage off your booth in your newsletter to entice them to come to the craft show.  I would only give that coupon to people who are actually on your newsletter.  You could make up a cute coupon they could print and bring or a secret phrase they could say to get the discount.

(I don’t typically recommend discounts.  However, since these are people who have already signed up for your newsletter you can reward them for their loyalty.)

I hope I have convinced you to create a newsletter!  To actually collect the names and emails I simply created a form with a table with a spot for their name and for their email address.

And speaking of newsletters, you can sign up for my Craft Show Tips newsletter here.  (You get a packing list for your craft show for signing up!)


Craft Show Tips 4.0

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Craft Show Tips: Promoting Your Online Shop at Craft Shows

Craft Show Tip:  Promoting Your Online Shop

You can listen to the audio, or continue reading for a transcript of the audio.

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Craft shows are great for so many reasons.  The first thing they are good for, of course, selling your products.  They’re great for meeting your customers and other things.

But what if no one is buying?

Even if they are buying, you want them to find you again, right?

This tip is for you if you have an online shop.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an Etsy shop or a shop on your website or elsewhere, you want the people who love your stuff, who buy your stuff or even show an interest to find you and be able to purchase from you again.

I have done tons of craft shows throughout the years.  Sometimes they’re great and sometimes not so much.  When they’re not great sales-wise, I make sure that I’m at least handing out my business card to everyone who seems interested.

It is important that people can find your online shop later:

1.  Sometimes they’re not ready to purchase right now.  This is especially true if you sell higher priced items or items that are bulky to get home.  But it can also be true for other products as well.

2.  Sometimes people are looking for gifts and your thing might be something they want for themselves.  Or sometimes it’s the opposite and they think your thing would be perfect for their best friend but they’re not purchasing anything for her right now.  You want to make sure she remembers you later.

3.  Sometimes people come to craft shows as an event to walk and look around, but not necessarily to buy, so even though they might be interested they’re not ready to buy that day.

4.  And so many other reasons.

Of course, you want to try to overcome all of this and make the sale anyway, but if you can’t you want to make sure they have some way of finding you again.

There is a thin line between getting the sale today and letting them walk away because they have an out of “I can get it online.”  You can counteract this by letting them know that you don’t have the same things online that you have at the show.  This works if first of all it’s true.  And second of all if you make a lot of one-of-a-kind items.

But it’s also helpful to show that you’re a real business by showing them you have an online presence.  If there are problems with their purchase, they can get in touch with you.  They know they can trust you more and thus be more likely to buy from you.

Here are my suggestions for promoting your online shop at craft shows:

  • Make sure you have business cards with your website clearly printed on them.

This isn’t a sure thing because people often misplace business cards.  Can you think of something that they might keep that is not expensive for you to print/make, but will get their attention more?

I also highly recommend photos of your products on the card.  I have been complimented a lot on my business cards because they have photos on them.  It is also a reminder of what you sell and why they have the card.

  • Make brochures.

I used to make brochures myself and just print them in black and white on colored paper.  I gave more information about my business, about how they can make custom orders and upcoming craft shows I was doing on them.

You could offer a discount in your online shop and print the discount code on them.

They give you more room to say a little more about your business and what you offer so they can read more about your business and be able to purchase in the future.

  • Have signs.

People do not assume they can find you online unless you show them you are.  I cannot tell you the amount of times people would see my sign with my website and say, “Oh, you’re online?”  From there you can give them your card with the web address.

  • Capture newsletter signups.

I’m going to go more into detail about newsletters next week.  For now just know that it’s important to capture the emails of the people in your booth and your customers and have a way to contact them in the future.  You can then tell them about things in your online shop when you send out your newsletters.

Have a form for them to fill out and you can also ask them to sign up.

  • Talking to people about it.

As you are checking out customers who are making purchases or as you talk to interested folks in your booth, let them know you have an online store.  You can hand them your card then or they’ll probably ask for it.

Caution:  I would not make this the first thing I say to them.  You definitely should be spending most of your time talking to them about your products and their uses and how they work.  But you can let them know if they’re not making a purchase or as you are checking them out.  (Like I mentioned, there’s a thin line between making sure they know you have an online shop and giving them an option to walk away and getting the sale on the spot.)


Getting ready for your first craft show?  Or have you done a few, but not had a ton of success?

Check out my eBook:  Craft Show Tips

Craft Show Tips 4.0

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