If you are interested in reading about how to get your business visible online, with regular insights into being an entrepreneur and navigating your way through the business world, then this blog is for you!
It’s that time again - every weekend there will be a craft fair, Artisan market or event taking place in the run up to Christmas and there will be plenty of organisers willing to take your hard earned cash - but will it give you the opportunity to sell your products and be worth your time?
As a product retailer it can be so difficult to find the right events to be at and set yourself up for success, and that’s all even before you find the confidence to talk to strangers and sell to them!
Having experienced both ends of the experience of fairs and shows, with my own business and supporting Worsley Gin as an exhibitor, and as an organiser of a busy and popular Christmas fair, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to the whole fair process.
I’ve put together ten considerations for selecting what events you want to exhibit at, because it’s important to do your research so you don’t waste your money and your time...
The Organisers. Are they professional events organisers or are there regular events happening from them. Are they an official business - check them out so you minimise the risk of being ripped off.
Location. Fairs and markets which are organised out of town or without ample parking will naturally struggle for footfall compared to ones in prime locations.
Type of venue. Will the venue attract your ideal client? If you are not sure what type of people are attracted to the event then ask the organisers - if they can’t answer with a decent knowledge of the demographic then they perhaps don’t know themselves.
Marketing. Ask the organisers how they are marketing the event. Check out Eventbrite, Facebook and local boards to see if there are people already interested in the event. Do they have an advertising budget? How will they market you as part of the event?
Pitch location. Find out what available stalls there are and think carefully about how footfall will progress through the venue. You don’t want to be at the end of a long queue of similar products, and you may not want to be near a draft!
WiFi!!! It’s so important to know if you are going to have WiFi as this will let you know if you can take card payments and or link up to your website for customer sign ups.
Set Up. Do you have ample time to set up and is there clear access to your pitch or will they provide support to help you unload?
Pitch Set Up. Do the organisers provide tables and chairs? Do you have access to power, is there a storage area for excess stock?
Other stall holders. Find out who else is exhibiting - this is crucial for knowing whether your brand will be a fit.
SUMS!! See below for what to properly consider here.
The financial analysis is so important when considering any event. Here are the basics to calculate:
The cost of the pitch
The cost of travel (petrol and parking)
The cost of set up (if additional equipment is required for example)
The cost of your time
The cost of anyone you ask to help
Cost of refreshments during the event
Cost of stock
Once you have added this all up you can then calculate the volume of sales you need to break even for the event and you can assess whether it will be a good return for you.
We all want to make the best decisions for our business but we can also be guilty of making rash or rushed decisions without thinking through properly - hopefully this guide will give you some structure to your thoughts!
The next consideration is then to think about how you brand your stall or exhibition space - but that's a whole other blog post!
Have you been successful or burnt by fairs in the past?
If you had no knowledge of what failure felt like, or knew the consequence of failure was nil; or even if you knew failure was actually impossible - what would you achieve?
This week I launched my book club within the SEO membership group and it has been a powerful start to what was meant to be a small supplement to an already burgeoning programme of entrepreneurial support! We have started with Robert Kelsey’s What’s Stopping You? The powerful insight into fear of failure and the impact this can have on life and career choices has really resonated with my members and I have definitely had a light bulb moment with some of his explanations around past trauma and how it can affect future decision making. I have become a hyper productive procrastinator if there could be such a term - addicted to achievement to show the naysayers and the haters that I can do things and I can be successful. I procrastinate on the real goals whilst being over productive on things I know I can do. I have become aware that the hamster wheel I’m on is spinning at an increasing rate however which I am now trying to address before I fall off! However this blog post is not meant to be about me...
We all want to be successful, don’t we? We all want to achieve something - it’s in our nature. The reason why may be very different, and the goals may be very different, but as humans we are programmed to complete tasks and the endorphins released from the completion of tasks then inspire in us to complete more. I won’t go into a long section about science (mainly because I will probably get it wrong, and also because it’s a bit boring) but suffice to say that we as a species like to get stuff done. But we are also programmed to put survival above everything. So when we have a trauma or something that affects us profoundly, it is highly likely that we will want to try and either avoid the situation from happening again or minimise the impact of the failure.
I see so often with small businesses the owner giving up and going back to a full time paid job because they couldn’t make it “work” and this really frustrates me because we all have the ability to make it work, it just takes a lot of time, effort, and dare I say it - facing the fear and doing it anyway! I wrote an earlier blog piece on how to avoid business failure which gave tips on what to focus on to avoid the pitfalls of being in the 95% of small businesses that fail. It had a great response from people and I thought yes! Eureka! I’m going to start seeing some fab actions from people to get traction on their websites, and their branding, and their business plans. Yet despite the positive reactions, the procrastination has continued... which got me thinking that something else must be holding people back, and perhaps it could be the fear of failure (even if you don't think it is). So here a few things for my procrastinating readers out there to think about:
People say no everyday. Just because the first few people you have asked have said no does not mean that you and your business are not good enough. It means you haven’t asked the right person yet. Make a list of your key targets, and then a secondary list. If you believe in your product or service then you need to take it to the right audience. Are you targeting the right audience?
What is the worst that can happen? When I’m doing something out of my comfort zone I do what I call a “Terminal Tara” on it and look at the worst case scenario. It seems a bit of an odd approach, but the reason I do it is so I can think about the mitigations and steps I can put in place to ensure that the worst case never happens. It has a double positive effect because the additional steps I put in reinforce the positive outcome which was going to happen anyway. Try the Terminal Tara approach - it is a game changer for me!
Sit down and actually review your business. If you can’t bring yourself to do it alone, why not think about investing in coaching sessions where someone like me can help you to do it? My Dad always laughed at people in the street who looked lost and were searching maps, furtively looking up then around them (I’m showing my age now and pre mobile phone google map childhood!) and I once asked him why he laughed. He chuckled and said “How can they know where they are going when they don’t know where they are?” - this is so true! You need to be able to see where you are to be able to plan for success in the future.
Be honest with yourself. Have you really put the time and effort into being visible? Or have you signed up to lots of things to increase your visibility and improve your business but not actually implemented any of the actions? Is it because you think they won't work? They definitely won't work if you don't try them!
Is your brand representing you and your business to your ideal client effectively? Does your social media match your website and your overall marketing, or is there a mismatch? Have you gone deep into understanding your ideal client and their needs and then branded yourself accordingly or have you just bought yourself a pretty logo and a self build website and then expecting people to pay ££££ for your products and services? You want to charge your worth but maybe your brand is not at the right level. It could be why your number of No’s are disproportionate to your successes - and it is something you may need to address if you truly want to make it work.
So there are five points to think about, but the most important thing to think about is this. Do you actually want to be successful? Or do you want to be one of the 95% that valiantly gave it a go? There’s no shame in either, but you can save yourself a whole world of pain and wasted time if you work out now whether you are going to go all in... or take a different direction.
Let me know what you think may be holding you back...
Pamela Rae-Welsh is the owner and founder of Worsley Creative Services, specialising in online visbility, web design and brand styling based in Manchester.