small biz stuff

CRAFT SHOW TIPS: How to recover from a bad show.

exit343design_craft_show_tips

You may have seen my post back in November about taking the plunge to be my own boss lady. It’s been quite a ride so far, with many ups (crushing it at Renegade Chicago!) and downs (winding up in the hospital over Christmas).  That said, one thing I was focused on over the 2016 holiday season was filling up my schedule with holiday art shows and hustling hard. I did just that- from Atlanta to Lancaster to Pittsburgh to Columbus to Boston, I drove almost 2,500 miles in December alone for exit343design!

exit343design_chicagorenegade_2016

It looks exciting via social media when you’re posting about all the great venues you’re showing at, but let’s cut to the real talk: I did not even come close to the sales goals I had set for the season.  It was a real fucking bummer, especially now that I rely on that income more than ever. But, if you believe in the work you that you do, you have to move onwards towards the next goal.  Here’s how I got to this zen state.

1. KEEP CALM AND MOVE ON

At this point, the show has ended and you’re breaking down your booth. No more sales are coming your way. You’re bummed or angry or both, but just chill out. Every show can’t be a winner. Don’t talk shit to your neighbor (okay, maybe just a little bit . . .) and most of all, don’t mouth off to an organizer. You don’t want to burn any future bridges for a show or a potential sale! People may not remember good interactions, but they will sure as hell remember confrontations.

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2. ACCEPT WHAT YOU CANNOT CHANGE

This goes hand-in-hand with “relax.” You will probably be thinking “shoulda/coulda/woulda” about all sorts of things, but what’s done is done. If sales were poor, remember that being at a show in person is also doubles as great marketing and good for networking; you never know what kinds of leads might materialize after the fact.

3. FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS, NOT EXCUSES

It’s easy to sit back and blame the venue, show organizers, advertising, whatever- and you know what? Maybe they were all factors in some way. But now is the time to evaluate how YOU can do things better so that your booth and product shines, even in the bleakest of circumstances. Were customers frequently asking about pricing or something else? Maybe it’s time to up your signage game. Was your booth easy to shop, from near and far? If not, maybe you need to spruce up your display. Think about the booths around you- were any of your neighbors doing really well? What were they doing different than you?

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4. SET NEW GOALS AND GO FOR THEM!

After every show I do, no matter good or bad, I always walk away with a new to-do list. Working shows can be exhausting, but often inspiring; it’s a great way to get direct customer feedback, learn about an area, and see what other makers are bringing to the table. Every show is a learning experience! All you can do is try to put your best foot forward- no matter what the Internet says, success does not happen overnight.