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In 2019 I grew my boutique a lot, and that’s almost entirely due to doing in person vendor and craft show events. In fact, from May to December, I did 28 vendor shows. That’s a lot. The year prior I only did two. The year before that I did none.
To say I learned a lot doing those 28 vendor shows would be an understatement. I kept doing them because they were successful for me. Not every show, but overall show revenue accounted for 82% of my total sales in 2019. I often found that while I was having a good day many of my fellow vendors were having bad days. After the first handful of shows I started to mentally note some of the differences between their booths and mine. From that knowledge, I’ve created a list of some of the reasons that I believe contributed to my success.
Whether your show will be outside, inside, a craft show, a vendor show, a festival, or something in between, if you take my suggestions seriously you’ll have a much better experience.
Here's five tips for putting your best foot forward: How to Present Yourself At Vendor Shows
1. Dress the part
Put your best foot forward. Don’t dress like you just rolled out of bed, even if you just did. Granted, if you’re setting up your booth by yourself, you’ll probably break a sweat so you might think twice about wearing your Sunday best. But this isn’t a garage sale, so don’t dress like it. On days that I knew I’d probably be getting a workout setting up my booth, I brought a change of clothes. Bringing a fresh nice shirt, a hair brush, and some lipstick goes a long way. I’d slip on my fresh look about 10 mins prior to show opening time, and change out of them again at the end of the day. Another tip on clothes: dress to be brand memorable (wear your brand colors) or wear your products (if applicable).
2. STAND UP
For the love of all things good, if you only get one tip out of this article, let it be this one! STAND UP. You should stand tall with your shoulders back, and (to borrow a phrase from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which you can watch on AmazonVideo) go out “tits up”.
Seriously! You must stand! When you don’t stand, you look too comfortable and nice shoppers won’t want to disturb you, so they’ll keep walking or won’t ask to checkout. When you do need to sit, try to keep eye level. Get a director’s chair or a tall stool -- NOT a camping bag chair. Remaining eye level lets your customers know you’re ready to help. And one last note on body posture: remember crossing your arms means “go away”. Don’t do it. If it’s cold, bring a jacket.
3. Be friendly and have your elevator pitch ready
This should go without saying, but be friendly. TALK to the people who come to the show. You don’t need to become best friends with them or ask who their family is, but please just strike up a natural conversation. “I love your jacket!” “Is this your first time at the show?” “Are you enjoying your time so far?” AND have your elevator pitch ready to go! Your elevator pitch needs to be clear, concise, and memorized so you can say it at a drop of a hat. Add it to your natural conversation. Your elevator pitch, or what I like to call your main message, needs to be at the core of your marketing plan. If you need help figuring yours out,book a free 30 min call with me.
4. Don’t talk about the weather!
Speaking of natural conversation, I avoid talking about the weather! ESPECIALLY if you’re at an indoor event. Once you ask the question “is it nice outside?”, you get your potential customer to STOP thinking about what they’re looking at (aka YOUR STUFF) and you get them thinking “huh, I wonder what it is like outside?”, “shoot, is it dark outside?”, “what time is it?”, “I got to get home!”. And you’ve lost your customer.
Don’t mention the time or meal time! Innocent questions like “Are you getting hungry?” or “What’s your dinner plan?” will get them thinking about leaving! So unless you’re selling food, don’t ask them about meals!
Don’t believe me? Let me ask you this: What do Vegas Casinos and Walmart have in common? They both are windowless and don’t have a clock displayed. Take a clue.
5. Put your phone away
This is an easy one! If you look too distracted to help your potential customer, they’ll keep walking by. If you need to use your phone, only do it for a moment and then put it away. And PLEASE don’t sit there TALKING on the phone at your booth! Not only does it make you look bad, it hinders your fellow vendors from making a sale.
The same can be said for books, newspapers, crosswords, etc. If you have so much down time that you’re reading books or scrolling your phone, someone isn’t doing their job! It’s either YOU because you’re not engaging with your potential customers or it’s the show organizer who didn’t get enough people there. Even when the customers are far and few in between, I NEVER resort to books or scrolling my phone.
What do I do in my down time? I restock products, touch up my display, think of my next product or offer, and take photos of my display and products for social media or my website (that I post later).
Did any of these tips stand out to you? If you apply any of my tips, I’d love to know how it goes!
Hey! I'm Christine, I'm an entrepreneur and small business owner who has learned by trial and error. I write helpful articles that help you take your next steps in business. Occasionally I like to mix things up and dash in a bit of lifestyle topics. Thanks for being here!