Dear Design Doctor
It’s Autumn now, but Christmas is around the corner! I will be doing 3 craft fairs, and I just really need this Christmas season to work for me this year. What can I do to make the most of these important sales opportunities? Dear Design Doctor, how to make the most out of Christmas?
Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust, answered this question as The Design Doctor in Crafts Magazine November/December 2012:
‘For many craftspeople the last couple of weeks of the year will bring in the vast majority of their annual income, especially if they sell mostly direct to consumers. (If you sell wholesale to shops and galleries then September will have been a good sales month with either direct trade orders or through trade shows).
Obviously, it is really important that you prepare and plan well for these craft shows to keep them as stress-free as possible. Ideally your planning started a couple of months ago with working out the products you want to show.
The main issue I see with many crafts people is that they work really hard on creating lots of stock, but actually forget to think how they will present and price their work from the client’s point of view, and spend too little time on marketing and letting potential clients know.
To make the most out of Christmas I would ask the following 7 questions:
Q1: What are your goals? What would make this year a success?
How to make the most out of Christmas? Be as specific as possible about what you want in financial terms, but also maybe in getting commissions, adding new people to your database, or meeting new galleries or journalists (although the latter is fairly rare at a Christmas show).
The better you know what you want, the easier it is to find ways to achieve your goals.
Q2: What will you sell?
This might be a very obvious question, but to present your story as a designer maker at its best, you need to show a collection of various items that are related (e.g. colour, texture, type, themes).
Have products at different price levels to give customers a range to choose from.
A craft show is always a great moment to launch new products, in combination with more established work.
Q3: How can you make your crafts more ‘giftable’?
It is Christmas time, so people are shopping for gifts, and you need to make it as easy as possible for them. People are looking for personalised or meaningful gifts to give to close family, such as jewellery, a luxury bag or family games.
Is your price level right for it to be a gift? (consumers spend very specific amounts for gifts, and if your price is even just above this price level they won’t purchase it)
Very popular gifts in this time of the year are: cards and calendars, desktop and office accessories, candles and lights, winter hats and scarves, stocking fillers, beautiful bakeware and parent/child matching sets (think mummy & mini dresses or aprons).
You might like to show some gifts for men and boys, as there is a lot less competition for them!
Q4: How will you present your work?
Use the entire stand or table to tell your story and attract customers.
Will your stand be colourful, fully packed or minimal?
What accessories will you use to add to your work and the Christmas spirit?
Don’t just think about colours, but also add flowers, candles, sweets and spicy smells!
We have created a handy post here on what to bring to a craft fair (including display!).
Q5: How will you price your work?
At a crafts fair people want to know immediately what something costs, so price items individually and clearly. Have a variety of items under £25, and some at the £40 and £99 price points.
Q6: How will you wrap your work?
If you are able to provide great wrapping on your stand, then you will add great value at little extra cost. It’s all part of the experience, and something beautifully wrapped will get a lot of attention on Christmas day! Don’t forget to add your business card.
Q7: How will you promote yourself?
Don’t rely just on the craft fair organisers. (Some craft fairs can be very quiet. If you want to avoid that read this post.)
Let people on your database know 2 – 3 weeks in advance by sending them a personal postcard or invite, or by email with some great images.
Send a follow up a week in advance, and add some tweets in the run up and during the show. Want to get lots of creative ideas on how to use Twitter to promote your event? Click here.
For some great last minute marketing ideas check out this blog post.
Q8: Is your online shop ready too?
To make the most out of Christmas, it’s really important that besides craft fairs you also make the most of having an online shop. This could be your own website, or online portals such as Etsy or Folksy.
Prior to the show spend some time updating your online shop with excellent images and some Christmas related styling.
Add the right season related tag words such as ‘customised’, ‘men’s gift’, or ‘stocking filler’.
Show some images of how you will gift wrap your work too.
And be very clear when your last day shipping will be.
When you invite people to the fair, promote your up-to-date online shop. And let visitors at the fair know about your shop, so that they can go there for any last minute or secret shopping (tip: hand your business cards discretely to the accompanying men at the fair!).
Enjoy the season! Make the most out of Christmas!’