The holiday season is almost here and it is full of opportunities for artisans and crafters to sell their creations. However, it can also be difficult to choose between such a wide range of options, especially holiday craft markets. There are also some strategies that may help optimize the benefit of participating in any market. I interviewed two craft market pros, who offered great tips for maximizing your holiday market success.
It pays to do some analysis first. Not all markets are created equal and your time and resources are limited. “I recommend researching the local markets and craft scene as a whole before committing to any single event,” said Leslie Criden, owner of Glassy Jewelry. “I put every festival, market and bazaar on a calendar and research how much they are, when to apply, and the types of products offered,” she added.
Leslie also suggested identifying what makes you or your products different when communicating with event organizers and while selling at markets. Leslie commented, “another important thing to consider is how to differentiate yourself from others. When completing applications make sure you are as detailed as possible about your product, but at the same time state what makes you different. Use creative words to describe your product. Send pictures when possible.”
Make it convenient for your customer to purchase from you. Julie Martin, founding partner of Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, has hosted a holiday market for several years as a community appreciation event in Milton, GA. “My advice to all of my vendors is to have cash and carry items. Folks are buying gifts for teachers/coaches/hostesses and they tend to be afraid to order items in case they do not arrive on time,” said Julie. “Many people do not carry cash, so you have to be able to accommodate credit cards,” she added, “which means you also have to confirm that WiFi is available or bring a hot spot.” Julie also suggested gift wrapping if the venue does not provide the service.
As an event planner, Julie Martin recommended communicating the following criteria to the organizer: the space requirements for your products, if you need an electrical outlet, if you require a table (if one is not provided), confirm if wifi will be available and calculate how much set up time you need.
In addition to these suggestions, I also recommend that you obtain the complete event timeline so that you know how much time the venue will be available to you pre and post event for set-up and break down. Ask about what the protocol is for unloading and loading your vehicle. Do not assume that the venue will provide basic things such as event tables, chairs and linens. In fact, I suggest packing typical items such as a folding chair and a tablecloth just in case the venue does not have those items available or has miscalculated what they need for the vendors. My last event was at a local wine festival where I launched my wine cruise blog, Wine Mariner. The event organizer confirmed with me, and the other sponsors, that he would provide linens and chairs and he had none. Thankfully, I had packed extra chairs and tablecloths and shared them with the neighboring sponsor table. I also have an “event box” that has an extra phone charger, extension cord, multiple types of tape, a stapler, large binder clips, string, paper, pens and a clipboard that I bring with me to every event.
Each craft market can offer a solid marketing opportunity for your business. First, check with the event planner to determine if they are creating shareable marketing items. Julie Martin creates marketing pieces for social media to share with the vendors that attend her event. Julie said that, “vendors do a great job of notifying their clients and friends of where they will be and when”. Pre-event marketing may be obvious to mention but remember to post on social media while at the event. Consider doing a live Facebook video on your Facebook business page and encourage the surrounding vendors to do the same. Posting pics of the event during and after helps everyone who is participating.
It is unlikely that there will be a list of attendees available to you if the market is open to the public. If you’re interested in following up with the people who attend the event you should have a sign-up sheet at the table or raffle off a fun item that requires an entry form. Invite these people to follow your social media pages and make sure that they know when and where your next event will be.
People attend these markets because they know that they will be filled with a variety of sellers with unique offerings. These events often fill up quickly so it’s in your interest to be connected to, and knowledgeable about, the craft market community if you plan on selling at a few of these events during the year. Leslie Criden recommended, “attending as many markets as possible; introduce yourself to the event planner, network with other vendors and create a game plan for next year.” I also recommend following-up with these folks after the event. Offer the event organizer your feedback and stay in touch with the other vendors.
Holiday and craft markets offer crafters and artists amazing opportunities to make money and market their businesses. Getting organized and having a game plan are the keys to market success. If you are an Enterprising Mom and are participating in a holiday market, post your information (and some photos) on our facebook page. Invite us to your markets and share your experiences with us.
You can learn more about the holiday market pros and Enterprising Moms interviewed in this article. Thank you for your contributions: Julie Martin, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate, and Leslie Criden, Glassy Jewelry.
Sheryl Van Aken is the founder of the Enterprising Moms and runs a travel agency in Milton, GA, called Van Aken Travel -Dream Vacations. She specializes in cruises of all kinds for individuals and groups. She is a certified event planner through Emory University and the Cruise Line International Association.
Sheryl has 4 great children and is happily married to her husband Mike for over 23 years,