We’ve all been to a show (craft fair, swap meet, baby show) where we’ve looked around at the other vendors and compared how they act at their table to ourselves. Wonder what makes them sales…or doesn’t and what is the best way to attract customers to your table at shows? Here it is for you, a list of vendor etiquette that will help you be the best you can be when you are representing your business!
1. Attire. There’s three type of ways to dress at a show. Dress clothes – like you’re heading to the office or to the bar. Different ends of the spectrum but really neither are really appropriate for a show. Relaxed clothes – yoga pants and top to match or hoodie and lastly, friendly, which I classify as something you would wear to meet your boyfriends parents for this first time. Not dressed up, not dressed down. A nice sweater or tunic and a pair of leggings.
Out of these three outfits, all of which I’ve tested and tried at different shows, I have found that the most approachable outfit is friendly. You look like someone they can relate to, someone they are comfortable talking with. You’re not looking like you don’t want to be there by dressing down, you look appropriate unlike bar clothes (btw, I’ve not tried this outfit at shows…it’s not in me, but I have seen others dress like this and few to none go to their tables). Lastly, you don’t look like you’re above them in your dress suite. This is, of course, not for a high class function. We’re covering your average craft fair here!
2. Stand at your table! I know the hours can be long and your feet get sore, but if you sit at your table it comes off that you aren’t interested in talking to people or even being there. Standing in front of your table, if there is room, is a great way to bring customers in to your table by directing them towards it with a friendly “hello”. If your feet get sore you should of course sit down, try to do this when there is a break in the crowd, and take advantage of it when it happens so you can get up and engage potential customers on your feet when they come back around.
3. Your phone. Oh the phone. I bring my phone to every single show I attend, mainly because I have a Square One reader on my phone and need it for customers to make credit card transactions. It’s also there in case of emergency, in which case I would answer my phone. Aside from those two reasons you should not be on your phone! No games, no texting, and definitely nothing inappropriate (yes, I recently attended a show where the vendor next to me was looking at images that should be left to be seen in a bedroom). If you’re busy looking at your phone you could be missing out on a lot of sales! You most definitely don’t look approachable when you look like you’re more interested in what’s happening on your phone rather than what is happening around you. If you’re bored, go network with your vendor neighbours. You never know where you’ll make a sale or even a business acquaintance.
4. Be assertive. Customers are more likely to walk up to someone who is paying attention. If someone is walking your way always make eye contact and say hi to them, ask them how their day is going. Create that conversation to get them to come talk to you. Being friendly is key!
5. Know your product, and be excited about it! Smile and look happy! Don’t grin so big you scare people off, but look happy to be there. If you’re not excited and happy to be selling your product then how can you expect others to be interested in it. Make sure you know all the in’s and out’s of what you are selling. Be prepared to answer any questions that a potential customer may have. You should also have a sentence or two to tell each person that comes to your table. Depending on which side of the table people come to at my table I have a different, interesting, speech about each product. A line or two to draw them in and make them interested about what I do and how great the product is. If you believe in your product and love it, this should be very easy!
6. Don’t pester people. Recently I attended a show where a skin care lady came up to me and was trying to sell me on her product and becoming a seller of the product. I let her know it wasn’t for me and that my step-mom sells the same line so I can go through her if I changed my mind. She didn’t take that as a no and left me listening to her tell me whey I should sign up through her for the next five minutes. If anything turns someone off of purchasing from you it is when you pester them to buy from you. If someone isn’t interested in what you have to say you can either let them just walk away and tell them to have a nice day, or give them your card and let them know they can check out your website, Facebook page, but let them walk away with a nice memory of your business. Even no memory is better than a negative one.
7. Offer a giveaway. If you’re looking for a great way to get people to your table you can offer a giveaway. Cover a shoe box in some nice wrapping paper or kraft paper and cut a hole in the top for entries. Leave a pile of entry slips beside the box and be sure to direct people to it, even if they aren’t looking at your items. Everyone loves free stuff and it’s a great way to get them to your table. I’ve made many sales this way from people who weren’t even coming to look at my stuff. If you are offering a giveaway at your table be clear about why you are asking for their email address (if this is the chosen method for contacting the winner). If you plan on signing them up for your newsletter with their email address you must let them know clearly before hand. Especially with the new anti-spam law in Canada.
8. Do not pack up before it ends! This happens at almost every show I attend and it just doesn’t look good on the person or the business that is packing up before the end of the show. Many contracts for shows tell you in them that you can not do this, so if you do be warned you could be banned from future shows. Also, many people come in at the very end of the shows so you could be losing out on sales.
9. Make-up. We all love to look our best and you can totally put make-up on when you’re at a craft fair, but I wouldn’t recommend putting it on at your table. There’s just something about it that isn’t right. I went to a fair where a lady spent nearly the whole time with her compact mirror out applying her lipstick over and over and over. Once or twice the whole show, totally fine, but when you are applying it for the majority of the show you aren’t able to engage people to your table!
10. Respect the vendors around you. Quite often our table space isn’t huge. Typically a 6ft table with about two feet behind us, if we are lucky. Take advantage of the space underneath the table for your boxes or extra product. Grab a second chair if there is one available to stack extra things on if you need more space. Most locations offer two chairs per table. Try to keep your items out of the aisle ways to avoid anyone tripping on them, your items getting damaged, or people getting hurt. Plus, it looks much nicer to walk up to a table that has a clean area around it!
11. Don’t talk about the other vendors negatively to customers. We may have our quirks about how others are acting at a show, or perhaps even about their product or customer service, but talking about them at a craft show is a big no-no. Not only does it reflect poorly on your business, but it looks bad on the entire event. Please save the gossip for after the show when you see your husband or bestie! If you’re having a problem with any vendor be sure to tell the organizer so it can be brought to their attention if you think the issue should be known. On this topic as well make sure you don’t talk about other customers to other vendors or even to other customers. It creates a really uncomfortable situation that reflects poorly on you, and no one wants that.
12. Food. We all need to eat, but at a fair it’s much harder. Bring small snacks and food items such as grapes or other small fruit, veggies cut small, snack bars, sandwiches cut into four squares, healthy drinks full of vitamins, and coffee or tea. This way you’ll be able to fill yourself up to keep on going throughout the day but your mouth won’t be occupied chewing when it’s time to talk to the customers. If you’re at a show where it runs into a slow period, take advantage of this time by getting your bigger food items down.