Tuesday, 5 May 2015

FAQs Series: Preparing For Your First Event

Whether a craft fair, vintage fair or something bigger, it's always very nerve racking preparing to trade at your first event! I'm still constantly learning with every event I do, but thought I'd round up some of the best tips to help with your first stall.

Pick a suitable event for your product

One of the basic starting points is picking the right event to exhibit at. Make sure you pick one where the company has a history of busy events that are well promoted and organised to give you the best chance of having a successful time - when starting out, I used to do every event that approached me but fast learned even if stall space is as low as £20, you're barely going to make that back if only 5 people come through the door the whole day!

Have an eye catching display

If you have a sloppy display or poor branding, you're less likely to gain attention for your stall. Make sure you make it as inviting to customers as possible, using props, display stands and well placed signage. Use the whole space, including back walls where possible, and have items at different heights so everything doesn't just look flat.

It's important to strike the right balance in terms of products on your stall - you don't want it to look half empty, but you also don't want it to look cluttered.This is something I'm constantly working on, especially with an ever expanding range of products, but it's easier once you've done a few in a certain area/scene so you know what works best.

Make sure everything is clearly priced and have a float

Possibly the most important part is making sure everything is priced clearly. Many people don't like asking prices, so having them clearly on display helps avoid any awkwardness. Pricing the items themselves is an extremely difficult task, as it can be hard getting the perfect balance. I did a blog post on pricing handmade goods which might be useful. Another useful tool is this crafts calculator.

Having clear offers, such as a reduced price if multiple items are bought, can really help drive sales. Make sure you know the lowest price you're willing to sell items for as people often ask for discounts.

Have a range of items at various price points so there's something to suit all budgets - every sale counts!

Take business cards/flyers

You may find there are people browsing your stall that will be potential customers, but don't want to purchase something that day. It's so vital to make sure you have promotional material at hand so you don't lose out.

Make sure any information is up to date, and that the material is relevant to the event itself.

Be friendly!

The worst thing you can do is sit behind your stall looking bored or frowning - you need to make sure you're as approachable as possible. While it can be nerve racking at first, try and engage with your customers without being sales pushy - even if it's just a smile or saying hello! Keep it conversational, and make sure you don't get too engaged with one person to the point that you forget about the other people also browsing your stall.

If it helps, rehearse a few lines to help you explain your products, process or materials as a talking point to get people interested in your products, while also helping them to understand what makes them unique/special.

Learn from each event

I write up a list of each item that sells at an event for tax purposes, but also so I can see what works/what doesn't work. Different products work well with different audiences and at different times of the year, so it's helpful to learn from previous events so you know what to take to different events. Treat it as market research to help you improve in the future.

What tips would you give to someone preparing for their first event, and are there any problems you've had to overcome? Let me know in the comments below!

You can see any upcoming events I'll be attending on the Events page of my website.

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