May 10, 2011

Business Tip Tuesday - To Market, To Market..,

The following is a comprehensive list of supplies, inventory tips, marketing tips and all around great advice for how to get through a day at the market.


Make sure that you have all your office supplies very handy ... nothing like taking an order and can't find a pen or an invoice book or a calculator, to make you look less than professional.

If you're using a calculator or a cash register ... keep the tapes full and a back up very handy. (I always had an office box filled with anything that I would need. Papers, Rulers, Pens, extra Tapes, Invoice Books, etc.).

Have your information sources handy. If you use specific reference material ... have it either on the table or on you. Don't go "fumbling" around for it.

Leaflets: yes, a brochure or leaflet is a good idea ... that way they have your name and address when they get home. Just remember that you are trying to make sales, not give away brochures. LOL Put a brochure in each bag with a sale actually done.

Business cards to give out with each purchase and a few to set out on your table for customers to have access to.


Dress comfortably ... it's going to be a long day (or couple of days) ... you are not at a fashion show ... no high heels or other clothing that will restrict you or make you uncomfortable by the end of the day. On the other hand ... don't dress down to the point where people see you as unprofessional either. Balance is the key here.


Signs should be less artistic and more clear and visible. Mark the price and the type on every single item ... don't make people look too long to find the information that they want.

Use your "height" as well as your width. Lots of display space goes unused if you don't pay attention to wall space.

Rack 'em and Stack 'em ... have lots on the table (and the wall displays) so that people can see immediately that you are serious.

Keep your displays neat and tidy ... nothing like picking up a product that has dust or dirt on it to put someone off really fast.

Set up your display at home prior to the show, then pack your product so that it comes out in order. Mark each box with which display this product will be going into/onto. This will save you so much set-up time once you're there.

A rack that has shelves; although admittedly you do have to make certain that it can be "anchored" to the ground and yet still be light enough to transport with you.

Just remember that you are paying for 10x10=100 sq. feet on the floor but that gives you 10x10x3=300 sq. feet on the walls too. Of course, only half of that is really usable ... nothing works below waist or table level really, unless it's large boxed items.

Write down your set-up procedure. Set-up and Tear-down is really the most difficult part of the process.

Do a floor lay-out and plan the displays.

Customer Service 

Don't spend all day with one "talkative" customer. Answer their questions and queries ... but don't give them the impression that they can take up your whole day or that you're there to "make friends". You are there to sell product and make customers ... not "buddies".

If you are not certain of the answer ... say "I don't Know" ... don't make something up or say I "think" this is the answer. Get their name and number or email addie and tell them that you will look it up and find out for them. And then follow it up in a timely manner.

Do a couple of practice sales ... ask a neighbour to come by and pretend to be a customer. That way you get an idea what you need by going through the process before you get there. You'll feel less nervous if you've done this a couple of times.

"Tell ... don't Sell" If a customer comes by and seems interested ... take them on "walk about". Walk them through the different types of products and tell them what they are for and why yours are superior. By the end of the walk through ... both of you will be more comfortable buying/selling to each other.

Do not leave your booth unattended. It's just not good sense, when a customer wants your attention, you need to be available.

No items on the table that are not for sale! Gitchy stuff is cute and all, but ... decorations should be on your product. Keep the focus on your product and what you do have to sell. Having a beautiful crystal candle holder that no one can purchase creates a negative experience for the buyer and for you.


Make up some gift baskets / gift sets ... it's easy for people to purchase products that go together if you have them set up and ready for them to purchase quickly and in a pretty format. Add a couple of "extras" like a washcloth or scrubby or ... just to make the gift basket a treat.

As for small amount of stock looking like lots, here are some ideas:

Take the same bar as a 1 pack ... 3 pack ... 6 pack ... with some sand & shells (from your statement) ... packed in a mini gift pack with a face cloth (dollar store). That gives you 5 products from one.

Don't know if you're selling anything besides soap ... but if you are ... A soap & lotion pack ... a soap & moisture pack ... a soap & shampoo & conditioner pack ... a soap & scrub & body butter ... etc. Gift Packs make the most of a limited inventory base because they use up more space and the same product is used in many applications.

Bath Salts are a great space filler as well. And not expensive to add.

Market the same bar for several applications: for example ... exfoliating hand soap ... exfoliating foot soap ... you get the idea. Keep the signage clear and the displays to a minimum ... your product is the star of the show here.

Crates (cheap at the dollar store) are perfect for "mini displays" of gift packs or of special application type product. Fill one with everything to do with foot products and make the signage "Foot Care". Fill one with all gardener product and make the signage "Gardener's Corner" ... "Exfoliating" ... again, you get the idea. Just keep that going to fill a table ... then you have the main table with all your soaps laid out ... looks like you have lots of product now.
To put this into perspective ... look in a jewellery store ... The same necklace will show up in several displays ... as "amber" "silver" "celtic" "necklaces" "new" "beaded items" etc. ... one necklace ... many placements.

The less product you have, the more creative you need to be with display and packaging. Again ... keep the packaging simple (you don't want to spend a pile of money) creativity is key.

Box some soaps individually ... and have the same soaps just shrink wrapped and "open" as well. Same soap looks a lot different in the two different packaging types.

Specials: yes ... definitely do have specials ... just put the price up slightly for individual items and then make a "special" for buying 3 of them. That way you sell more at one time to a customer you already have, it's a good sales technique

Scent & "LOOK" sells them the first time ... they come back if the quality is there as well.

Inventory Tips 

To make your inventory keeping simpler ... type up a sheet with every item (double check the count as they go into the box). Mark the sheet with lines to create a couple of columns. Excel works well for this, if you have it.
Column 1: Product Type
Column 2: On Hand

Then when you are packing up fill in
Column 3: New On Hand Amt.

And that gives you
Column 4: Sold at Show! (Column 2 minus Column 3)

Date this sheet and then use the Column 3 information for your next show and add any new product you've made as well.

Source; The Dish Forum via "Rainbow"


Caitlin said...

Love this! So true about the comfortable clothes. I wore Chacos (a hiking sandal like shoe) this time and my feet were thanking me at the end of the day! Unlike my last market where I wore these really cute flats, my feet were ready to fall off come 4:00. Wear comfortable shoes no matter what!!

Tara said...

Lots of great advice again as I get started in the craft show circuit.

Amy Warden said...

Great stuff, Michele! Even a veteran can learn some new tricks! :)

Cocobong Soaps said...

Terrific job on this post! Many useful tips that are so valuable when you're getting started. Bravo!