During a recent trip to Cape May Point, NJ, I went to a local crafts cooperative with some wonderful work. I remember my days as the quilt/fiber artist at a fine crafts cooperative outside Philadelphia. It’s a great place to sell your work, meet your customer and gather marketing information.
Whether you sell your work in a cooperative or in a booth at a show like Quilt Market, here are some tips to help you increase sales:
1. Set an intention or goal for the show. Is it to make a certain amount of sales, to get your patterns picked up by a distributor, to test a new product? When you are clear on your intent, you’ll be more focused, and your results will show that.
2. Establish eye contact with show visitors, smile and engage them in a conversation. Ask questions that will lead to an answer that is not yes or no. Share something of yourself and your product. Your customer is buying you as much as she is buying your product. And, I’m sure you’ve been to a show where the craftsperson sits on a chair in the corner of an empty booth. Of course it’s empty; no one feels welcome to enter! Get up and greet your customer.
3. Qualify your buyer, i.e., separate the browsers from the buyers. Quilt Market is filled with what I call “the entourage,” quilters who want to see what Market is all about. And, I love quilters who want to become involved in our industry; they keep our industry vital. However, while they may have some influence or be the buyer of the future, they are not the decision-maker today. I’m not saying to ignore them or be rude. You can engage them in a conversation, only find out who makes the buying decision and try to get to that person.
4. Have plenty of handouts and brochures. Not everyone is ready to make a decision when they first meet you. Some like to take materials back to the hotel room and compare before buying. Be sure to bring an original of your handouts in the event you need to get copies during the show.
5. Have a way for people to contact you later. At the cooperative I visited in New Jersey, all the artists had business cards; none had a web site noted on the card. Many times, I’d like to peruse the artist’s web site and see what other work she might have. Not all your buyers will purchase while they are in your booth or even at the show. Make it easy for them to see your product line.
6. Keep up your energy. If you are doing multi-day shows, it’s easy to get run-down. Have healthy snacks and water in the booth. Try to stick to your regular sleeping routine, something I find hard to do at shows. If your energy is zapped, it will show in your results.
Hope these tips add to the success of your next show. And, feel free to share your tips with our readers.
The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.