So. How much SHOULD you expect to sell at a show?
To start, here is a quick and dirty general formula to help you start figuring out if a show is worth your time:
Booth Fee x 3 = the MINIMUM amount to sell at the show to make it even remotely worthwhile.
What does that look like?
On the low end of the spectrum: If you paid $20 for a booth, then according to the formula, you should pull in a minimum of $60 in sales to make it worth your time. (Of course, ideally you'll sell way more than that if it's the right audience for your work!)
On the higher end: If you paid $300 for a booth, then according to the general formula, you should pull in a minimum of $900 to make it worth your time. (Does the target audience for this show match that amount?)
Now before you get all in a twist about that show you were considering, please remember -- this is a VERY GENERAL starting point. Let me emphasize *General*. This is NOT a one-size-fits-all formula. To tell you the truth, there really is no such thing.
To give yourself the best chance at having a successful show, there are three things that should be in place:
The amount you pay for the booth fee is on-par with the quantity (and quality) of customers who will shop the show. > In other words, if you pay a lot for your booth space, you should expect a proportionate amount of traffic to come through the show
Your product is a good fit for those customers. > In other words, the stuff you make is generally the stuff those customers are looking to purchase
You know how to effectively sell your product to customers. > In other words, you know how to take full advantage of each opportunity to sell your stuff every time someone walks by to check out your work
Let's break those points down a bit...
The amount you pay for the booth fee is on-par with the quantity (and quality) of customers who will shop the show
You know the saying, "You get what you pay for"? Well, that truism works for craft show booth fees too:
Cheap booth fees generally mean fewer customers.
Why? As I'm sure you can guess, it costs a LOT of time and money to produce and properly advertise a craft show. If the show producers are not allowing for a healthy advertising budget when calculating their booth fees then it is unlikely that there will be a lot of buyers attending the show. No advertising = no customers. That's just how it works.
Your product is a good fit for those customers
Here's where you need to be really honest with yourself about your real customer. If your product offering is just not right for the buyers who attend the show then no amount of planning will help you to sell more stuff.
The best way to do assess this is to shop the show first before applying to be a part of it. If you're looking at an out of town show, you'll want to search around for honest reviews of that show and maybe even try contacting some of the vendors who show in your (or an adjacent) category to see if they'll give you some feedback on their experience at that show.
Last but not least - Point 3:
You know how to effectively sell your product to customers
This last one is by far the most important and quite often the least considered point in making a show a good one.
If you aren't ready to actively sell your work, then you are basically throwing money into the wind and hoping some of it is going to blow back into your pocket. #handmaderealitycheck
You may get lucky some of the time, but without the proper sales skills you will never achieve your full potential profit at any show regardless of how reasonable the booth fee or how extensive the advertising.
Want to know the shortest short-cut on improving sales at a show?
Make it a priority to learn how to sell your work effectively and watch your sales improve at every show you do!
originally posted 02/03/10 / updated 03/20/18 by Marlo M.