Friday, March 27, 2009

How many times have you gone into an artist/crafter's booth at a festival or show, signed their mailing list, only to hear nothing ever again from them?

As artists/crafters we're guilty of collecting people's information but then doing nothing with that information. This blog will expand on some ideas about how to get the most bang out of your mailing list:

  • I recommend that you collect only what you'll use. If you only send out e-mails, don't collect addresses, etc. Make it simple and easy for your 'fans' to sign up for your mailing list.

  • Offer an incentive to sign up on your list; a drawing at the end of the show; a 10% off coupon that can be used to purchase your work, etc.

  • Once you have the list, enter it into your computer and back it up so you can't lose it. Some folks keep lists of buyers separate from 'lookers'. Some separate folks interested in classes from art buyers. Collect and organize it the way you'll use it.

  • If your mailing list grows over time, it can get out of date. I also find that folks' handwriting sometimes leads to my entering the wrong e-mail address. How do I get around that? First of all, at the end of each day of a show, I enter my e-mail addresses and send out an immediate message thanking them for signing up on my list AND I offer them a 10% off coupon to be used in purchasing my work in the future. What I'm really doing is checking whether I've got the correct address. Any bounce-backs from that days' addresses allows me to look at the list more closely and correct the addresses. If I can't correct them, I knock them off of the I don't get future 'bounce-backs'. I'm also trying to incentivize them to return to my booth the next day and purchase that piece that's been nagging at them since they left the venue. Sometimes it works.

  • I use my mailing list only for a monthly newsletter and special show announcements. For the latter, if you keep a separate list of people who have purchased items from you, send them a 10% or 20%-off coupon for one item in your booth. I have a potter acquaintance that does that and not only does he have great attendance at his shows, but these folks buy around 50% of the time!

  • When you send out things to your e-mail list, blind copy everyone so that everyone's privacy is maintained AND so no one can steal your hard-earned e-mail list. If another artist or crafter can see those names, what is to prevent them from placing those names on their own list?

  • Always offer some way for people to unsubscribe. I put a statement in small print saying, basically, "reply with 'unsubscribe' in the subject line to be removed from my list".

Good luck! And next time I sign up on your list, I hope to hear from you!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

A common question for folks new to showing/selling at Festivals and Fairs is "what is important".

Ask four artists, you'll get five answers. Smile. This is what is important to me:

First of all, you want your buyer to be comfortable, spend as much time in your booth and completeliy understand your product and your pricing. These things are important to that end:

  • Make sure your display and your booth is clean and organized. Ever wander into a too-cluttered store and get overwhelmed or confused? When your customer is overwhelmed and confused they don't buy; they leave. Keep it uber-simple!

  • Put prices on everything! I'll never forget once at Cottonwood, a new sculptor displayed 6-10 bronze sculptures, one of which I liked. A lot. However there were no prices anywhere. And I wasn't about to ask, lest they be out of my price range. So I walked on to the next booth. Price everything.

  • Broad array of sizes, colors, price points. It is important to have a broad selection of products, colors and, most importantly, price points. My products range from $22 to $600....there's something for everyone who wants my work. The budget minded folks can't spend big bucks. The art-snobs think they have to. Please them both!

  • Your signage should be consistent in color, background, ‘feel’ and theme. Remember "simple"? Keep it simple, and professional! No Cacophony!

  • Have change and, preferably, take credit cards. This conveys professionalism and makes it easy for your customer to spend plenty at your booth.

  • Greet everyone that comes in your booth and then get out of the way!

Finally, besides your product, what do you need in your booth? Here’s what I take:

My tent (if needed), setup tools and weights.

Pro-Panels and/or Grid Wall as my background – eliminates distracting background and lends to a contiguous theme in my booth. Simple is good.

2’ x 4’ folding plastic tables (2) with matching tablecloths that go to the floor…enabling me to store stuff underneath. A chair or stool to sit on.

My signage…the Kessler Craftsman sign, some product photos, a sign indicating that I take MasterCard and Visa, etc.

Lighting. I take either my stained glass lamps as my product if that’s ALL I’m selling OR I take goose-neck clip-on lights that I got from Wal-Mart for about $15 each. Of late, I’ve started using Track lighting mounted on a bar over my Pro-Panel setup. See my booth someday… Lighting is important…if they can’t see it well, they won’t buy it!

My display stuff. I use risers, bust and ring displays for jewelry, trays and stands for other items, small gridwall, etc. Display things cleanly and attractively!

Packaging stuff. I have small shopping bags, t-shirt bags, earring and candle-holder boxes and then tissue paper. This makes it easy for gift-giving and conveys and extra sense of professionalism.

A money box (some folks use aprons) with plenty of $1s, a credit card machine and credit card slips, a tiny calculator, receipt book and a filled out tax table with tax already filled in for my most popular items.

Sign-up sheets for mailing list, classes, etc.

Business cards and show postcards for any future shows.

Electrical cords (long and the thickest, most heaviest gauge you can afford…lest you throw breakers), power strips, duct tape and extra light bulbs.

My “emergency kit”. It has: Pens, a Sharpie, matches, razor blades/X-acto knife & scissors, screwdriver and pliers, parts for my booth pro-panels and grid-wall, T-pins, thumbtacks and velcro strips, zip ties and a couple of spring clamps , extra business cards, adhesive price labels, duct tape and scotch tape, a pad of paper, some clean shop towels, aspirin and Tums, sunscreen, lip balm, an extra t-shirt and bandanna, trash bags, etc. I also bring a “10% off” and a “20% off” sign just in case! I also bring extra jewelry findings, jewelry pliers, etc for jewelry adjustments/modifications.

I bring bottled water and, for longer shows, food. Nuts, carrots, apples etc…’munchie food’ in a tiny ice chest.

Sometimes I bring: A source for music…a small portable CD/IPOD player and speakers; candles for my candleholders; I sometimes do work in my booth…items I need for that; a laptop or sketch pad for really slow times.

Most of all, bring your sense of humor and desire to have fun!