Wouldn't it be great to be called that? What do you think makes a stallholder the best in the world? While pondering on this I thought a post about the four Ps of marketing and how it could be applied to being a stallholder would be a good post: Product, Place, Price, Promotion.
We all think we have the right product. How do we know that? Is it because we like what we make and think everyone else will? Is it because we have done research and found a niche in the market for what we make? Have we decided to target a specific sector with our product? It is important to realise that just because you love what you have made, not everyone else will. Find out what is popular - check trade craft magazines and visit trade fairs to see what is going to be popular the next season, and the season after.
Are we selling our work in the right place? Most stallholders you meet will have had good, bad and indifferent experiences of craft events and other selling platforms. Are craft events the right place to sell handmade items? Are they the right place to sell your work? For some items, yes, it is exactly the right place but it is only experience that tells you this; however, the event may be right, but the venue may be wrong. Some products will not sell well at craft events - there are many reasons why. It may be the footfall isn't looking for the products at the event, the quality of the product affects sales, a poor or uninviting display puts people off, too expensive, too cheap, an unapproachable stallholder, or the product you make just is not popular in the area you are selling in.
Price is obviously very important. Price your work too low and people will think it is cheap, price it too high and you may price yourself out of the market. The majority of craft workers rarely cover the time they have invested in making something - sadly the public have contributed to this because there is a tendency to think that because something is handmade, it doesn't cost much to make and therefore it should be cheap. We all know how harsh that is. They fail to take into account the talent, time, care and passion invested in the item they are looking at. However, that doesn't mean we should lower our prices just to satisfy the public because we will end up often not covering the cost of materials, let alone a contribution to the time taken to make the product. A piece of advice here is to have a range of prices at events; I appreciate this depends on what you make and may not always be possible, but something around the £2 - £5 range is always tempting for customers. It's a good starting point for them. How about some reduced price items? Everyone loves a bargain.
Finally, possibly the most important thing to take on board is promotion. This doesn't just take place before an event, it takes place throughout and after the event. You want to persuade browsers to become customers and to remain customers. Only you can promote your work knowledgeably because only you know it well enough to give its history, why you made it, who it would suit, how many different colours it could be made in, how long it took you to make, who buys you work and why you enjoyed making it. Yes, you can pay to have your items marketed, but it can be expensive for the small business.
Some people say there is a fifth P in marketing: personality and I think this is a very important one. Do you present or project a cheerful, helpful, happy image to your customers? Do you find talking to customers easy? Do they find it easy to talk to you? Are you enthusiastic about your work, happy to share ideas (but, of course, not your trade secrets)? Think about it. I think half the battle in our business is presenting a positive image and sadly, I have taken part in and visited many craft fairs which have had some unhelpful and miserable people behind the table. Some have had an off day, some are not happy in a selling environment, and this takes me back to place - is an event where customers are to be encouraged the right place for them to be? Let's face it, we are not born sellers, we have to train ourselves to be.
I hope this gives some food for thought and if you have any feedback, comments or contributions you would like to make on this post, come along and join in.