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What to Do when your Show is Slow


Exhibiting at art or craft fairs this summer? All exhibitors want to have a profitable selling experience, but as we know, that's not always the case. What can you do when sales are slow?

Try these tips to attract more customers.

Create a crowd. When a group of people gather in a booth, others are drawn, curious to know what the attraction is. Keep the energy going in conversation by planning ahead on what you will say when presenting your work. "May I help you?" won't cut it. Share what is unusual or fascinating about your work. Start a conversation and ask questions, keep the flow going.

Scrutinize your display. Is it overly cluttered, or poorly lit? Your merchandise should be shown to its best advantage, displayed at varying heights for greater interest. Give your work some breathing space, and showcase it rather than crowding it.

Artist Lisa Jaworski demonstrates plein air painting

Demonstrate. Everyone loves to watch an artist at work. Share information about your technique and inspiration. If you've prepared ahead, you will be able to speak clearly about your art and touch on many topics that interest your audience, including becoming one of your collectors!

Adjust your attitude. Feeling negative? Does your body language say you'd rather be elsewhere? Are you reading a book or talking on your phone? Hang up and get focused on the show. You paid the booth fee, so make the most of the opportunity.

Collect email addresses. You may not make as many sales during the show as you do afterwards. Be sure to follow up with all potential customers. Sometimes your "sales cycle" will take a little longer than a simple transaction, so don't let those admirers who are still on the fence walk away with no further contact. When you look at your show experience as a first contact, you can plan marketing activities after the show is over.

Have a contest. No matter what is being given away, people are naturally interested in winning something. Whether the prize is given away at the show or later, you will end up with lots of names for your list.

Offer a giveaway. One fiber artist rocked her craft show by giving free temporary tattoos of her fun logo, drawing all kinds of attention. She made lots of sales in the meantime, from shoppers who browsed through her merchandise while in line to be "tattooed."

Check your booth flow. Is anything blocking an easy entrance, or giving a psychological barrier to walking into your booth? You may be able to make adjustments at the show – or learn a tough lesson to improve your display next time.

Carolyn EdlundThis article is courtesy of
Carolyn Edlund, founder of Artsy Shark, is a business writer, speaker and consultant for artists. She is the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, presenting at art business workshops throughout the United States. Carolyn works with artists every day in strategy sessions designed to help them structure their businesses, set and reach their goals. Find out more about scheduling your own business consultation with Carolyn here: window