You have spend all your time preparing for a major event. You made all your work. Spend ages on the presentation, finding the right plinths, the right lighting. Been focused entirely on the making and creation of your work.
And now, a week or on the day (!) of the show, you realise you need to do some quick fix promotion.
Some quick marketing techniques to get those punters in, to get visitors to attend your show, to get people to buy.
You might even be at a show and realise that it is a bit quiet on the visitors front …
This is a quick fix list of promotional activities that you can do – right now! No costs or very low budget, and crucially very limited time involvement required from you!
Action 1: Send 20 personal invites (60 minutes)
People loooooove getting invites! We don’t like to be ‘sold to’, but we do love an invitation!
So … the most important promotional activity is: to send an invite.
But before you hit the ‘send’ on your email to 100’s of people or get your printer printing 100’s of labels … STOP!
One of the most effective ways to get people to come to your show is by doing it in a personal way. So … identify those 20 contacts or so that you really want to visit you at your event. And really focus on them.
They might be clients, or agents, bloggers, journalists, gallery owners, retail buyers, ex-tutors, role models, suppliers or other people you really would like to show your work to.
Send each of them a hand-written envelope, addressed correctly to the right person (!), with your invite or postcard and a hand-written personal greeting why you would love to see them at your show.
People love getting post, and people want to feel special.
This is one of the most effective ways of getting them to come and see you.
Action 2: Send an email (30 minutes)
Email invites work brilliantly, as you can reach many people (depending on the size of your database obviously!) in a matter of seconds.
But … you need to try to avoid the spam folder and that your recipients reach for the delete button before they have opened your email.
Ideally about two weeks before your show opens send people (this means do not send to ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’!) on your database an email to invite them to your event.
Send your email around lunch time or shortly after on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday – this will be the most likely times that people will open them.
(A note on using Windows Mail etc: Sending 100’s simply through Windows Mail will probably take lots of time and sends them straight to spam folders.
Even more importantly ALWAYS ‘bcc’ your contacts. DO NOT put the contact details in the ‘To:’ or ‘cc:’ button as all your contacts will be visible to EVERYBODY … very irritating to the recipients and actually a breach of confidentiality, but a Godsend for your competitors …)
Whatever way you send your email invite, make sure that you use a catchy non-spammy subject line. Make it personal. Write something like: ‘special invitation to my first solo exhibition Memories’ or ‘Ceramicist John Blogs invites you to Art in Action, 3 – 6 June’.
Keep your email short but enthusiastic. Tell people what to expect, who else is showing, what else they can do there. Be very clear about when it is (including opening times) and where it is. Give directions if necessary. Let people know if there is a charge too.
At the end of the email sum up your work in a couple of lines.
Say: ‘If you are unable to attend my show, then have a look at my online shop xxx’.
Finish your email in a friendly manner: ‘Looking forward to seeing you.’
Include 1 or 2 images of yourself (!) and or your work to remind people who you are and what your work is like. Ideally include them in the text, not as an attachment (as this will slow down sending your emails, and people don’t like opening attachments).
Include your contact details, web and or online shop in the email signature (see under action 6).
Emails like this are not just a great way to get people to your show, but they can be a great reminder of you and your work, a non-threatening way to stay in touch with dormant contacts, and can raise your profile and visibility.
You might want to send an additional email reminder with very similar content 2 days prior to your event.
You might like to read more about creating email invites and newsletters in our extended blog post.
Action 3: Send a postcard (10 minutes plus)
Many craft fairs now create postcards for distribution. Use these postcards well, with a stunning image of your work, and send people on your database a card.
If you have a good database it will be easy to create many address labels in a very short time through Excel, FileMaker or other professional system.
Yes, there are obvious costs for stamps, but as people do get so few nice items of post these days it might be well worth the investment!
Action 4: Create a special offer (5 minutes)
People like to be treated specially, and most people like a treat. When you are sending out your invites, or even when you are at the show you can offer something special:
- people on your database a ‘2 for the price of one ticket’ offer
- a 10% discount to previous clients who buy at the show with a special coupon that they find in the email
- the first 20 visitors to your stand get a goody bag or special gift
- a 5% discount during the show for your twitter followers or Facebook ‘likers’ who can give you a code
- free postage for people at the show who want to buy from you later online
- free gift wrapping for customers at the Christmas craft show
- run a fun competition from your stand e.g. to guess the weight of your platinum ring or how long it took to fire your ceramic pot (this is also a great way for people to leave their contact details, so a great booster for your database!)
- 10% discount for future commissions placed at the show
Make people feel special, and create a clear offer specially for them. Use a coupon, email or code that they need to give to you to claim their special offer.
Action 5: Launch something new (5 minutes)
Events, exhibitions, trade shows, craft fairs are all ideal opportunities to present new products or collections.
When you send your invitation, emails, postcards make sure that you mention what you will be launching. What products or colours are new? What is special about it? What is the story you can tell about this new range?
People love to be the first to know, so tell them, and give an extra reason to come and see you and visit your stand (PS especially retailers and journalists love this!)
You can announce your news in your invite, e-mail, newsletter, online, twitter, media release etc.
Action 6: Update your email signature (10 minutes)
At the bottom of each email you sent you can put a so called ‘email signature’. This is where people put their contact details, website address etc.
It is very easy to update these signatures through any email programmes. Usually you can create a signature under ‘format’, and then apply it under ‘insert’. You can find more details about how to do it in your email programme in the ‘help’ box or Google ‘email signature’.
Why not update this regularly with information about your upcoming events? Simply add:
I will be showing at MADE LONDON Fri 26 – Sun 28 October at stand B3 Come and visit!
Especially if you use a highly visible colour it will be seen by everybody you send emails too.
Action 7: Update your website, blog or online shop (15 minutes plus)
Always include your upcoming shows on your home or online shop page (if possible). Make it a special feature that is highly visible, not something hidden on your CV page.
This is not just good to attract more potential visitors to your event, but will be good for your credibility building with all your online visitors.
You might like to create a special page for your event on your website. Especially if you are using blogging software such as WordPress than this is very easy and quick to do. Include the dates, venue and some images of your collection.
You can direct people to this specific event page on your website via your emails, twitter and Facebook.
Having a special events page like this can also add traffic to your site if you are using popular key words in the web page title and headlines, as people searching for ‘London Design Festival’ might find you very high in the Google search ranking too if you have got a page dedicated to that on your site!
After the show you can add pictures of your stand too. This will be a great record later that can help build your story and credibility.
Always make sure that your online presence is up to date when you are doing shows. This is where (professional) buyers and the media might be checking you out prior to your event.
But this will also be the place where people will go to after the show to order. Very often during trade shows buyers will see many potential clients, but will only place orders after the show. Or husbands at a Christmas craft fair might prefer to keep their purchases confidential, so give them discreetly your business card with web address for an online sale after the event.
Action 8: Share your story and pictures on FaceBook (5 minutes each time)
In the run up to your event share your progress with your followers. Tell them when the show is on, and invite them to come. Put the event in your time line. Share pictures of ‘work in progress’, your inspiration behind the work, and your evolving collection of work.
Prior to and during the show share pictures of your stand, your display, the event, the queues, the people attending, the venue, …
You will be surprised how people really love to hear and share your stories behind your work!
Post regularly so that people really can feel part of your journey.
Action 9: Post your event out to exhibition listings (30 minutes plus)
Especially if you are organising your own event or exhibition it is worthwhile contacting some relevant listings to help you promote the event. If you are part of a larger, existing event then the organisers will be taking care of this.
Make sure that you have got a press release type text with clear details about: Who is showing?, When is it?, Where is it?
Make sure that the format you write is how the listing wants it, and ensure that you provide information at least one month in advance to get as much exposure as possible.
(Please note: The Design Trust does not include exhibitions in our listings, we only include selected ‘calls for exhibitions, fairs and shows’ in our opportunities listing! So make sure that you do your research before you start sending your press releases off.)
Action 10: Use Linked In (15 minutes plus)
If you are part of the social networking site Linked In, then you can promote your event to specific people on your address book. Go through your list of connections, and invite them (personally!) to your show.
Also post your event on some of the popular group forums on Linked In, such as T-Shirt & Suits, CIDA Cultural Industries Development Agency, London Design Festival,
(And yes, you are more than welcome to also include your event on The Design Trust Linked In group!)
If you have got a dedicated web address then it is a good idea to attach that as it will make your post more visible and colourful.
Action 11: Send people a kind reminder text (5 minutes)
With Twitter and Facebook around we sometimes forget about ‘the old fashioned’ text …
You might like to create a short and friendly text, and send that to a selected group of people on your phone’s address book. Do that two days before the show, and again during the show.
Do it in a personal, friendly and targeted way. Send it at a reasonable time.
This is also a great way to remind people that if you wouldn’t be available on your stand (we all need to eat and go to the toilet sometimes …) that they can contact you by phone to arrange an appointment in advance for a specific time or date.
There is obviously a little cost involved, but if you do it nicely this might get you some great results.
Action 12: Tweet about it (1 minute each time)
Twitter is great way to stay in touch, connect, network and promote your work. Not necessarily to sell your work.
In advance of your show share pictures of your ‘work in progress’ and let your followers know about your event. During the show send images of your stand, the display, specific products, the detail in your work, the venue, the crowds, …
Comment and retweet other exhibitors’ tweets to build your community.
Always use the right hash tag # for the event, and try to include a website address in your tweet for more information and to drive traffic to your website. Ideally this would be a special event page on your website!
If you are sending great images and use the hash tag then the organisers, other exhibitors, and visitors are very likely to retweet your message, which can lead to many more new followers for you.
Action 13: Create some posters (60 minutes)
Posters are still a very effective way for some last minute promotional activities!
You can very easy and cheaply produce your own A4 or A3 posters on your computer and print them off. (laminating for outdoor use is crucial!)
Include the logo or brand of the exhibition or your own brand. Put your name and stand number and an arrow on it, and off you go hanging them in the vicinity of your show.
The key to making many of these actions work is to MAKE SOME TIME to actually do them. You don’t have to do everything on this list, but I highly recommend you do as many as possible. Many of them are closely related to each other anyway, and will support each other’s effectiveness.
You might be worried that you will turn into a spammer or overdo the marketing. But in my experience potential visitors need to be reminded when shows are on as they live busy lives. If you use these techniques in a personal and targeted way, with friendly and inviting language, you will be considered to be thoughtful – not a spammer.
One more thought about marketing … to be honest there isn’t really a ‘quick fix’ although all these activities will help you. To make marketing really work in your design or craft business you need to start putting your potential clients at the heart of your business, really getting to know them, really understanding what makes them tick, why they love your work, and then starting to create and communicate with them from that place.
If you come ‘out of the blue’, haven’t been in regular contact and start spamming people one week before a show with lots of promotional info or say ‘buy me, buy me’ then they will get very annoyed with you.
Only by building up real relationships with your clients will you become successful in your business.
Remember: people only buy from people they know, like and trust.
What would you add to this list? Leave a comment below and tell me how you are promoting your event, trade fair, craft show or exhibition.