Drawing a Crowd to Your Retail Booth

Originally, our Tastes of Idaho business started out as a holiday retail booth.  Back in 2002, we rented a spot in our local mall and ran our booth for 12 grueling hours a day for 45 days from mid-November until the end of the year.

Despite the work and the long hours, it was probably one of the most fun and successful activities we participated in. This experience eventually prompted us to launch our website and our own gourmet business!

So what did we do to make the holiday booth so successful?

  1. We bought some easy-to-assemble wooden shelving which was very eye-catching and useful for displaying large amounts of gourmet and gift items in a small space (even 15 years later, people were trying to buy our shelving units.  Unfortunately, the company that made them closed their business).
  2. We greeted EVERYONE who walks by our booth, engaged as many buyers and ‘lookers’ as we could and were helpful and friendly to anyone who had questions.
  3. We stood most of the time we were in the booth (with a few breaks), so we were always eye level with our customers and thus, more approachable!

But the greatest draw to our booth, which translated into sales, was …..DEMOING SAMPLES!!

People loved to try our gourmet food products.  We cut up small bits of chocolates, sampled BBQ sauce with Corn Chips, gave out flavored popcorn ….. anything that could be sampled as ‘finger food’.

Now, I realize that not everyone makes gourmet foods, so this will not work.  But while we were giving out food samples, the glassmaker down the hall was demoing his craft (or making more product to sell) right in his booth!  The crowd from our booth eventually crowded around his booth to watch him ‘blow’ and form his glass creations. Between the two of us, we created quite an array of lookers who turned into buyers.

Take a long hard look at your product.  Can you make some or part of it in your booth.  Can you demonstrate the way to use or apply the product with your customers?  The more hands-on you can get with your customers, the more interest you will stir up, and the more sales you will make.

PS.  We also used some of the same tactics at our wholesale shows as well!  Especially sampling chocolate!!

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Making Your Holiday Booth Inviting to Customers

Exhibiting at a holiday booth, craft show or kiosk are all profitable and effect way to showcase your products, get feedback from consumers, and sell gift items to your customer and potential customers.

Previously, I wrote an article on how and why of exhibiting in holiday retail shows , but want to devote this post on a few tips while running your booth.

Ways to make your booth more inviting to customers:Making Your Holiday Booth Inviting to Customers

    1. Smile, smile, smile at everyone — even if they don’t stop at your booth.  They may be in a hurry to visit a different booth and might stop to check out your products on their way out!
    2. Stand in or to the side of your booth.  When you stand, you are at eye level with your potetial customers making communication easier.
    3. Greet everyone who stops to look at your products, but allow your potential customers to browse for a few minutes undisturbed.
    4. Make sure you are always on hand to answer questions, communicate and just be friendly.  Don’t talk on your phone, play solitary or engage in any other distracting activities.
    5. Refrain from eating in you booth, if all possible. Have a ‘fill-in’ person available when you need to take a break, eat or visit the rest rooms.
    6. If you make a product that can be made or  demonstrated in your booth, by all means create your pieces on site and share your creations with the people who stop by.  Or if you make gourmet foods or candies, share samples of your goodies!!

Along these lines, here are some helpful show practices (to help you communicate better) , from Alyson Stanfield from the Art Biz Blog.

Ways You Might Be Scaring Off Potential Buyers

Being indecisive about prices. Indecision makes you appear less confident. Set your prices after you’ve done your homework and be ready to share them…

Apologizing for your (products). The apologetic artist who brushes aside compliments about her art is not market-attractive….I’m saying that you need to hold your head up and say “Thank You” when you are given a compliment.

Playing down the fact that you’re an artist (or producer or professional crafter)…You’re an artist or you’re not. There’s no “kind of” about it. Embrace it. Practice it. Live it.

Stammering when someone asks you about your work. No one knows your art better than you. When you are given the chance to tell someone about your work, you must be able to speak intelligently. After all, who else would they turn to?

Having an outdated website. Your website is often the first place people will see your art. It should be a priority, not an afterthought…

(MY NOTE:  This also applies to any business cards, sales literature, or materials you give out during a show)

Read the full article

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