Booking a Craft Show

As the autumn rolls around it heralds the start of the many craft shows leading up to Christmas….but how do you select a craft show that is right for your products?

It takes a real confidence to book your first craft show and display items that you have crafted and are very personal to you so you really want to make sure the audience will appreciate all your hard work and sales are good.
I have listed a few handy hints that may ensure success.

  • RESEARCH – Many shows will be promoted online so do a bit of internet surfing. Does the show have a professional and well presented website? Is it visible on social media? Have a look at the exhibitor list – are they people you admire, are their products of a high quality, is there a wide variety of crafts or are there a lot of mass produced, bought in goods?
  • VISIT – If you are seriously interested in booking a show, contact the organisers and simply ask if they can provide a ticket to their next event. Get a feel for the audience – is it busy, what are they buying, are they enthusiastic about the show?Talk to the exhibitors, if they are not too busy then they are often very forthcoming and honest about the pros and cons of a show and may recommend other events.
  • VENUE – Consider the layout of the venue, there can be ‘dead spots,’ dark corners of halls that the audience simply don’t find. The organisers will provide a floor plan – and it is a good idea to highlight and try and book those areas with better footfall.
  • FACILITIES – As a visitor consider how comfortable you feel in the venue – is parking and access easy, are there seating areas, is the catering of high quality and are there sufficient clean bathroom facilities?
  • COST – Small, local shows can prove a good starting point. Costs will be low and you will get feedback on your products. However, if the show is not well attended sales can be disappointing. At the other end of the scale, large, prestigious shows can literally cost thousands of pounds. It is quite a heart pounding moment to commit to such an event but if you have a good product they can work. Look at the numbers very carefully – consider all your additional costs: travel, accommodation, food, lighting, publicity and then work out how much you need to sell to make a profit – make sure you take more than enough product to hit this target. Very occasionally large shows will offer slightly cheaper packages for ‘new talent’ – be cheeky and ask!
  • PRESENTATION – Space will be tight so be canny about how to use it. Sketch ideas out on paper to maximise the product on display without cluttering the space or preventing access. Tables with beautiful cloths provide both display areas on top and storage areas underneath. Shelves catch the eye at different levels. Think about hanging items from the ceiling and using the wall space. Lighting is vital, if possible book a spot with good natural daylight but you will also need electric lighting for dull days, late afternoons and evenings. Brand your product and pop a logo on everything – paper bags, business cards, packaging – new customers often find you on the strength of seeing someone else with your product.
  • NETWORKING – One of the best places to find like-minded makers is exhibiting. There is a fantastic community of people out there many of whom have years of experience to share. Many of the larger shows are attended by retailers and publishers looking for new designers so exhibiting can be a fantastic springboard to expanding your business. Finally I cannot stress how wonderful it is to be able to talk to your audience – this must be one of the few careers where everyone is pleased to see you!



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