One of the most frequently asked questions after the Fair that comes up with alarming frequency is “Can you tell me where I bought XYZ product? Which one of your vendors sells that?” Ummm. I suppose if it is polar bear fleece and I have only one vendor that sells polar bear fleece that might be an easy question but…Yarn? Fleece? Roving? Sweaters? Scarves? Hats? Buttons? I’ve been asked about all of those!
What dismays me most is – whoever that is just lost a sale! What’s more, frequently the person has recommended the product to others and both she/he AND their friend are looking to buy more! YIKES!
Let’s talk about how to make sure the customer can easily find you and your event organizers don’t ever get asked this question.
- Make a sign! Identify your business clearly in your booth. If you are a fiber arts business – make one that goes with your business – if you felt, felt one! If you do handspun – knit one! Yes, that takes time. Work on it and in the meantime – get one made that is unique and has your logo clearly on it. It should be large enough to see from across a room. Some vendors have 8 ft or 10 ft signs that go across the back of their booths. Others have 6 ft signs that hang vertically. However you do it – put your own unique stamp on it – your logo – your colors and your web site. Some events furnish paper signs – don’t use them. YOUR sign represents YOUR business and will make YOU stand out.
- Identify ALL your products. Sure, if you sell commercial products like yarn, you can’t put your label on it – but you can put it on your price stickers. There are so many types of printable labels out there now – get some and use them. Put your logo and web site on all price stickers! (Make sure your price stickers stay stuck, too).
- Get a deal on business cards and order lots of them (you get volume discounts). Put one in or on each bag. Printed bags are expensive but business cards are inexpensive – use them – liberally! Have a card basket on each shelf grouping, have another at your check out point. Make sure they are ALWAYS full during the event (check them in the am, at lunch, mid afternoon, whenever business slows down).
- Receipts – again, custom receipts might be too expensive – have a rubber stamp made with your logo, name and web site or phone number, and always carry a filled inkpad and stamp your receipts! You could use stamps on other labels, too.
- Get ahead of the pack and get a program ad – people keep programs from events. They want to refer back to them. Those that have a nice visual ad in the book will get more notice. Think about it – we often get magazines and read the ad sections first to see what’s new and who has a special going – same goes for program books, only people refer back to them and sometimes frequently.
- Run an event special. Even if you are only giving a few dollars off one item, event specials pull more people into your booth.
Once you’ve identified yourself so that folks know where to go to buy more AFTER the event… You do events to make sales at the event. Your second goal should be to build your customer base. All of the above will help you do that – however, set out to be more proactive. You are the captain of your ship!
- Announce on your web site that you will be at the event and encourage your customers to find you. You may think that this is not necessary when the event is far away – not so! People love to travel to attend events. They plan their vacations around them. So – make sure you encourage your customers to follow you – a surprising number of them will!
- Build your customer base. People who attend events will discover you at the event. Make sure you keep in touch with them. Don’t assume they will only purchase from you at an event! Collect mailing list/email list information. It can be as simple as putting a sign up sheet at your check out point and filling in a couple of lines to get it going (use your friends’ information or family members… no one wants to be the first one to sign up). Or – have a give away during the day – encourage people to sign up and pull a name mid-afternoon and give away something – you’ll collect a lot more names. Make them come back to your booth to win – that will bring them back for more purchases later. This is a really good way to introduce your product to people who may not otherwise purchase it for whatever reason.
- When you get home from your trip make it a PRIORITY to enter those names into your contact list. You can use Excel and Outlook to create a contact data base and email merge. Or get yourself an inexpensive program and be religious – enter those names and send out a note thanking your new customers for signing up. Give them some news – your next show, an upcoming workshop in your shop – a sale. You want to create a community at your shop – that builds a loyal customer “family” and you want to contact them soon after the event to get them started and to remind them about your business.
- Do a monthly or quarterly email. Just a “newsy” little email with whatever you have going on – but keep in contact. Talk about new products you are getting in, what’s new in your dyepot, tell them about the lambs – whatever you have going on. It doesn’t have to be long – just a friendly note. Fundraisers and professional sales people will tell you it takes 7 times to make a sale. Probably not so much is needed when people have bought from you and you are keeping in touch. What you are doing is reminding them about you – and that will generate more sales for you AFTER the event. It will also ensure that they come back and buy more from you the next time you are at the event. You will be proactively increasing your sales each year at the event.
Other important tips:
- Smile – always. Don’t complain to customers, ever – don’t complain about the event, or the lack of sales, or how little sleep you got. Smiles=sales.
- Make sure you have enough space – make your booth spacious enough that people feel comfortable entering and can move around. Don’t overcrowd your booth – if you need more space for more product –get more space. The worst thing at an event is to have your booth so crowded people can’t get in. Great if it is crowded with people – but if that is too frequent – think about getting more space. You have no idea how many sales you are losing because people couldn’t get in and thought they’d come back later…how many do and how many don’t?
- Create a space for talking to your customers that is out of the aisles – again, you don’t want to be blocking your aisles. Make a space around your checkout counter where people can stop and chat with you. (But make sure you aren’t blocking the entrance to your booth). Be aware of space requirements at the event – you may not be welcome to chat with too many people outside your booth because it reduces traffic flow in the main aisles at the event. Fire Marshals do come through to do inspections and that may get you (and the event) cited and fined.
Follow the above and not only will you increase your sales at the event, but all year long.