Both sides of shows — marketing and booth placement

So I have a unique perspective on sales shows, since I’ve worked both sides of this fence. For many years I organized and executed indoor and outdoor shows for artisans through my positions with the Word On The Street (WOTS) and the Queen West Art Crawl (QWAC): big outdoor events drawing thousands of people and smaller events such as an outdoor market during the summer in Parkdale. I have to say, the concerns that I had running a show were/are congruent with the concerns of the artists/creators selling at the show. We are all small businesses trying to make every penny we can to survive and to make every penny count. 

As a vendor at a show, you have to respect the time and effort the organizers put into a show, and that they are trying to please a lot of different audiences – from vendors to attendees to funders/sponsors and other stakeholders. They are truly working hard to do the best job they can and are putting in more hours than you can ever imagine to make their event successful. You have your part to play in making an event a success so don’t think you can pay your booth fee and sit back while the audience and the dollars roll in.

In this market, and in this world dominated by social media, it’s essential that you work with the organizer of every show you take part in to promote it to your audience and friends. It’s the only way to build an audience for the show as a whole. Your customers become other people’s customers and vice versa. You can’t rely on the organizers to draw the audience. But a good organizer will prepackage ads, PDFs, Tweets and messages for you to copy, paste and share to your social media peeps. If everyone involved does this work, leveraging our collective audiences, the event can only grow in size and in reputation. 

Placement in a show is important. High traffic areas often come with a higher price for a reason. But if your display doesn’t invite people to come in and browse easily, then you negate any special placement. There is nothing a show organizer can help you with there. The show organizer is in charge of booking a venue that is convenient to get to, easy to access and in a high traffic area where customers who buy products such as yours are known to frequent. If the event seems to be moving around a lot over a period of years it might not be a very successful one to take part in, or it is a show in search of an audience. Do your homework and ask other vendors about a show on FB sites like Toronto Craft Alert. 

I could go on and on about show management by organizers and vendors. And perhaps I will next week….

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