Every time that I pack and unpack my panels and merchandising for a craft show, I realize how blessed I am to be a college professor and for having the privilege to assist the youth with understanding how difficult life actually is in America. Craft shows keep me grounded in reality, that’s for sure. It is my way to understand, as a college professor, the struggles that the average man experiences in a controlled sales environment.
In this article, I will share with you what I’ve learned by going to these shows for many years now, why pursuing a college education is important, and how you can actually profit from going to these events.
Let’s start with the lessons, if I may… “I’ve learned by going to these shows for many years now.”
- The majority of the small business owners who participate in such shows are high school graduates/college dropouts or retirees trying to make a living selling products made in china (in the age of Amazon) or somehow complement income with a small business after retirement. The former is hard! In fact, it is very hard. Amazon’s logistics are AI based and highly efficient. Small businesses logistics are antiquated and inefficient. I’m not sure if many folks in these shows can see this.
- Most people who attend such events don’t buy many products, unless they have a connection with the seller before the show or a well defined target audience. I’ve witnessed a number of struggling businesses trying to attract people to their booths over the years, which clearly made them very frustrated. I have the feeling that a number of rookie small business owners out there don’t understand how to leverage these shows to profit after the event is over which means that many end up quitting before their businesses flourish.
- Brand matters… clients want to get products for free or buy many items for the least amount of money possible that have a good brand, often locally. I’m not seeing much logistical innovation in these businesses when we go to a show or the need to build their brands before going to such events, either. Big mistake!
- There are non-affiliated event attendees who will try to sell their products or pass their cards to the booths. They can be quite weird and annoying, sometimes disrespectful and inconsiderate. They never buy, by the way. I’m seeing more control from the event organizers to block them from going around disrupting the flow of the show. Occasionally, you meet the wife or a husband of a client or booth peer wanting to parter with you. In this past show, we partnered with a retired pilot who owns a private Cesna plane. Go figure.
Next, “why pursuing a college education is important?” Because being a successful small business owner is very hard and takes between 3-5 years to make a business have enough cash flow to sustain the owner and his family. Entrepreneurs have to eat and have a place to live, as well while they build their businesses… Any questions?
Lastly… This is how you can profit from going to craft shows… (This is what we do, exactly).
- We build brand and do market research. Before we go to any expo, we work very hard to establish our brand in the region, face-to-face. We discover our target audience through facebook advertising, then we literally speak with our audience in person. Then, we ask the even organizers to give us intelligence data about the show, e.g., males vs. female expected attendance, levels of income, age distribution, etc… if we think we are a fit for event, we register. If we don’t think we are a fit, we pass. We build brand on a daily basis which results in every show we gathering at least one of the members of our target audience to buy a bit print from us.
- Don’t look at the immediate profit of an exposition but profit ten months after the show is over. We have made our money back in every show we have attended since 2016. Why? Because we don’t force the customer to buy our products right there in the event. Most of them are actually not buyers anyways so we leverage our position in the show in order to get them better and build a connection with them to perhaps, sell a product for them after the show is over. It works every time, by the way. * Not with every potential customer but it works with a few.
- We do a fair amount of research in these shows. We confirm our target audience by counting the number of booth looks, client touching our merchandising, the number of people signing for a freebee, the quality of our conversations with them, the number of business cards that we pass and collect, and so on. We also observe the quality of people and how much they are buying every time we go to these shows.
- We offer art at different price points but we bring expensive items to the show. We offer a wide variety of items. Our cheaper products lead to clients buying more expensive ones. It is a good show if we sell one big piece in the show, maybe two. We make money in small quantities instead of big orders in these shows but most of our ROI happens months after the show is over after the target audience receives a newsletter from us about what they showed interest in the show.
Having a profitable successful business is rough. It was very tough for us to build I Do Therapy back in the day and to make it generate tens of thousands of dollars but we did it and sold the business for a big profit. It is possible to build a business from scratch in the USA still. It is a lot of work though.
“Craft Shows Keep Me Grounded In Reality,” especially for a college professor like me who has the duty to teach students how to make a better living in life. I’m glad that we went to another event! Now, it’s time to go to the bank and deposit our sale monies and have a conversation about what we got from this show.
It was real life, ladies and gents. The event kept me grounded in reality again, that’s for sure. I thank God for the opportunity to “see” and “experience’ these former things and teach my students about them. It’s a blessing.