Browsing to Buying: 6 Tips to Drive Traffic to Your Booth
Selling at live events is a significant source of revenue for many entrepreneurs, artisans and makers. Whether you exhibit at annual events like the One of a Kind Show & Sale and Etsy Made in Canada or at holiday markets, craft shows, festivals, church bazaars, conferences, trade shows or flea markets, you want to do everything you can to drive traffic to your booth.
We spoke with successful vendors and customers from some of the busiest shows, including the Christmas edition of the One of a Kind Show & Sale, to learn what it takes for consumers to go from browsing to buying.
- Don’t ignore the basics.
The way you design your booth and display your wares contributes significantly to your sales.
Your products are the centre of your business, so be sure to showcase them in a warm, inviting environment. Group your inventory so customers can see the range of items you offer across various categories. Keep your tables, shelves and vertical displays neat and have enough inventory to replace items as they sell. Store boxes and cords where customers can’t see them, like under a skirted table or behind your booth.
Great lighting is also extremely important says Doris Wai, Creative Director and owner of Love Lettering, which offers beautiful custom art, signage and paper goods.
- Have a show stopper.
Do you have something that is striking, popular, funny or unusual? If yes, put it out front to create interest and draw people in. It doesn’t have to be an expensive item – and it’s probably good if it’s not. Something that gets potential customers to stop, talk, laugh, think and say “wow” is perfect!
Businesses like Tony Taylor Art showcase inventory that pops. In his latest collection of oil paintings on birch panels, he replaces the face of politicians, leaders and corporate representatives with animals that he feels reflect a truer sense of their character. Lately, many shoppers have been asking Tony if he has painted Donald Trump. If you’re curious too, you can connect with him through his website.
Makers can also highlight useful everyday items with a creative twist – like the metal guitar hook and leash holder by Practical Art, which caught the eye of Christine, a shopper at the recent One of a Kind Show Christmas show. “My daughter is a musician and I’ve got a dog too. We hang guitars and leashes on hooks and holders that are not nearly as amazing as these. I love the idea of supporting an artist who makes everything by hand,” she says.
- Be transparent with your pricing.
Not everyone can afford the signature pieces that take you dozens of hours to create, but they will want to know the price of anything that piques their interest. Some people will ask and others won’t. Your booth can also get so busy at times that you won’t be able to provide immediate and personal attention to each shopper who stops by. Having clearly marked prices means consumers will always have that information to steer them towards a purchase. “If I don’t see the price, I have no idea if the item I want is something I can buy,” said Max, a student who was out shopping for Christmas gifts on a budget
- Offer samples and giveaways.
Who doesn’t like to try something new? If you are selling consumable items like food and drink, tempt people with a tasty treat. They are more likely to buy on the spot if they try and love your products. And, they’re more likely to recommend you to their friends. “You have to go to The Garlic Box,” said Debbie, adding that she makes a purchase from their booth every time they are at a show. She also tells her friends that they must try and buy their delicious sauces, seasonings and spreads.
Contests are great too. “We often have a giveaway – and we use a big sign,” says Jérôme Gagnon-Voyer, co-founder of Cambio Market, a social enterprise that sells a curated collection of thoughtful, responsible goods to empower artisans around the world. Not only do they give people a reason to stop and chat, giveaways also allow you to collect valuable contact information from people who enter, which can be useful for future marketing. You can also consider having a draw at a set time where the winner has to be present to win. This will encourage people to visit your booth again later in the day, which is another opportunity to make a sale.
- Be outgoing and genuine.
Say hello and smile when people approach or start walking towards your booth. Be curious. Ask about their day, how they are enjoying the show or throw out an open-ended question to start up a conversation. It’s likely they have walked past many vendors who did not greet them – so be unforgettable in whatever way you can. Even if it doesn’t lead to a sale today, they may visit your booth at a future show or make a purchase through your online shop.
- Promote in advance.
Whatever the show, start promoting the fact that you’ll be there one to three months in advance. Dorris Wai of Love Lettering uses social media like Instagram and Facebook as well as her website to let fans of her products know where they can find her in person. This can lead to repeat business as well as new sales.
There are many things you can do to attract customers at your next show – from the basics to the bizarre. By following these tips and getting creative in a way that matches your brand, you’ll be on your way to a successful show.