Tips for Booth Etiquette

Tips for Booth Etiquette
by Donald Clark

Courtesy of The Crafts Report
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Going to a trade show or a wholesalers' show is great for networking, but you are on display alongside a lot of other colleagues (read that as competitors). How can you make sure your booth gets the most traffic, and especially traffic that means sales and orders? It's nice to get compliments about nice work, but orders are even better!
- Katherine, via e-mail

You're right: Compliments are great for the ego bank but don't help the bottom line of the bank account. One obvious way to make sure your booth gets attention is for you to be in it and attentive to the buyers in the aisles. No books, electronics, crossword puzzles, no hiding in the corner, and save the networking with other craftspeople for after hours. Remember, wholesale buyers are working and need to buy stock for their shops. This isn't about casual recreational shopping; it's about getting their job done in the most pleasant and efficient way.

Let's assume you have designed a booth that will attract the attention of the buyers. You've used color and images and your work is displayed in a manner that tells its story, letting the buyer see how they would do the same. Be certain that all your color choices are represented and that you have one of each piece on display. Have everything marked with wholesale prices and the multiples that must be purchased. Have your minimum order and other pertinent terms clearly posted. I always appreciated finding a price list that I could have in hand as I shopped. This means you won't be distracted by having to say these things again and again. "Most important, don't forget to ask them if they are ready to place an order. I believe one of the reasons people don't buy things is because no one asks them to. This is how to use those compliments--they are your openers for selling something."
  - Donald Clark

Tips for Booth Etiquette Your place is front and center. Your main goal is to make buying from you simple, efficient, and pleasant. Place yourself where you can greet everyone who passes with a smile and an invitation to come in and consider your line. They clearly have an interest in handmade items or they wouldn't be shopping this market in the first place. Some buyers see what they want, come in, and are ready to write an order. On the other hand, many will want help and need to be sold. This is where your pride in and your knowledge of your work kick in. Talk about how it's made and why. Explain the features and benefits of owning particular pieces. Share the personal stories that make your work real and that they will be able to use with their customers to sell your work. Inquire about their shop and customers and use this information to explain how your work would fit their mix.

By all means, avoid any questions that can be answered with a "yes" or "no" and never ask, "Can I help you?" Just do it! Most important, don't forget to ask them if they are ready to place an order. I believe one of the reasons people don't buy things is because no one asks them to. This is how to use those compliments--they are your openers for selling something.

I've been thinking about utilizing Groupon or Living Social or some other electronic coupon service to get my work known and bought. I thought I could maybe have tours of my studio and then sell my work afterward. What are your feelings about this new way of advertising? Is it a good idea or a gamble that is just frustrating?
- Judith, via e-mail

The two electronic coupon services you mention are becoming very popular with value-conscious consumers. A new deal, with a discount of 40% to 60%, is posted each day. Retailers in the consumer's area offer these items. The consumers tend to be young urbanites attracted to bargains on things that they want, but they do not necessarily need. They are especially attracted to restaurants, health-related businesses, and other local attractions. Remember, this is the era of consumers seeking to spend their money on experiences.

So let's take a look at how these services work and see where this takes us. The first thing we have to know is what this will cost. Here's the routine. A business offers an electronic coupon for a product or service. The business also sets the number of buys that must be made for the offer to go. In other words, if you contract to offer a $20 item with a $10 coupon, this becomes a loss leader designed to get the customer into your shop. Further, if you contract for 50 buys and only 32 items sell, the deal is off. You make no sales and owe no commissions. If the deal meets or exceeds the sell number, you pay the service 50% of the sale price. In our example, this means you would get $5 for each item sold. Perhaps this could work for you if the $20 item has a wholesale cost of less than $10, in which case you would lose the difference between $5 and the wholesale cost. In order to get into this arrangement, you'll need an item you can produce in multiples and offer at $10, without it costing more than your bottom line can support.

Let's assume your offer sells the minimum, now what? First, your shop or studio has to be open regular hours so the buyer can stop by and pick up their purchase. Second, it's going to be very helpful to have an attractive studio showroom with your work displayed in ways that will entice the coupon holder to spend more money on full-price items, and hopefully return to shop again.

The biggest risk you run is not having careful pricing information about the item and losing more money than you planned. Be aware that the coupon shoppers are bargain chasers who may get their bargain and spend no further money. It could also happen that so many items sell that you can't produce them in a timely manner. My biggest concern is what this kind of selling will do to your brand. You work hard to produce quality items that are well designed and produced. I think it's important to market these items in a way that is respectful of their origin.

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