You’ve done all the hard work of running a craft fair or signing on as a vendor, so now it’s time to focus on the common goal all vendors and promoters have – getting more people to attend the event.
It seems in recent years there is a trend towards smaller crowd sizes. Is this due to a slow economy and people being more frugal due to feelings of insecurity? Is it perhaps too much focus being placed on “cheap and disposable” items over quality, handmade items? A bit of both? All are distinct possibilities.
The decline has been a source of anxiety for many vendors and promoters alike. One craft fair I attended regularly in the fall that was around for over 20 years has decided it’s no longer worth it after last years dismal turnout. One thing I noticed with this particular fair is they got lazy with advertising. Because they held it every year in October, they just assumed people would remember and attend. School bulletins was about the only advertising done – no wonder it didn’t make money for the school/band.
Promoters of even well established shows should never get lazy with advertising and promotion. It makes your event suffer, it isn’t fair to your vendors and will often keep your best sellers from coming back. We are a loyal lot to good promoters, but we can’t afford to lose money either.
All of this got me thinking (and researching) different ways promoters and vendors alike can work together to create successful events. In days past, most vendors just relied on the promoters to do all the advertising, assuming the costs etc. would come out of the booth rentals. While it is essential for promoters to do their part, everyone benefits when vendors also participate in advertising and promoting events. As a vendor, you are an integral part of the success of an event.
I’ve often heard vendors complaining about the lack of attendance over previous years, but then if you ask them if they promoted the event or did anything to spread the word, the most common response is “no”. Well….
There are many things you can do free and for very little money that can help get the word out.
Road Signs / Yard Signs
Promoters should find visible spots on main thoroughfairs to place signs that advertise the event. Signs should be clearly readable from a distance and prominently display the date and location of the event. If you are a vendor who lives on the main route to the venue, or who lives in a neighboring town where others may be interested, consider talking to your promoter about placing similar signs.
Fliers & Public Bulletin Boards
Like signs, fliers should be eye catching and feature the dates and location prominently so that they can be seen from a distance. Many local businesses offer public bulletin boards where you can post announcements. check with your local grocery stores, library. local restaurants (not chains) and other locations to see if they have a public bulletin board and use it. Promoters and vendors alike can do this and it’s absolutely free.
Create an Event on Facebook and invite your friends and family. If you are the promoter, create the event and invite vendors to share the event. If, as a vendor, you create a separate event, be sure to link to the original Facebook page or website of the craft fair. This helps build “link juice” for the event and can help it come up higher in search results if people are looking for things to do locally.
Events and Facebook pages are by far the simplest way to reach a lot of people quickly. If you can afford it, consider doing a “boosted post” talking about the event and run it for a targeted local audience within 20 – 30 miles of the location. For just a few dollars, your featured post can get the word out to potentially hundreds of locals. Imagine if every vendor took a few minutes for each event on Facebook…
Listing events is free on Craigslist and every promoter should be using this tool. A lot of people look here for upcoming events. If your promoter hasn’t done it, take initiative and list it yourself.
Discounts, Incentives & Giveaways
Promoters, consider asking your vendors if they would like to donate items or coupons etc. for door prizes. In your advertising be sure to mention that you are doing giveaways and some examples of the types of giveaways. Many vendors are happy to participate in these because it not only draws more people to the event, it’s a good way to draw new customers.
Vendors – Have an Email List / Website
Vendors, it’s important to give your customers a way to follow you. Use business cards, tell people where you will be next and direct your customers to follow your blog, FB page, or sign up for your email list. It’s very simple to do and will ensure that you are spreading the word to people who frequent these types of events and who enjoy shopping for local and unique items.
You don’t have to be tech savvy at all to have a Facebook page for your business. Ideally, get a domain and have a website for your business. There are many ways to do this. You can also set up a clipboard and ask people to sign up for your email list to learn about giveaways, upcoming events etc. This ensures you are targeting your marketing to interested parties who will remember your brand and want to visit you.
Press Releases / Media for Promoters
Promoters should use press releases to push your event. If you are not savvy with writing them, pay someone to do this or even look on sites like Fiverr or gig sites for someone to help you write or edit your release. Try to get local media to pay attention to your event. What does it offer your local area? Is it for the benefit of a school, charity or cause? If so, be sure to mention that. People will often go to events and spend a little if it’s for something that benefits the community.
Here are some examples of Art & Craft Festival press releases. Use them for inspiration and writing style, or get someone to write one for you.
In this day and age, it’s very important for craft fair vendors and promoters to work together in harmony to create the most successful events possible. It IS still possible to grow and enjoy a craft business and use local shows/events to grow your business.
What other techniques have you used for advertising and promotion? Please feel free to share in the comments below and help others!