As part of growing my business and getting out there in front of people post the COVID pandemic, I've took part in a few markets, shows and events this year and towards the back of last year. As an artist, marketer, and business owner, I know how important it is to 1) create art and do what you love 2) to market yourself, promote your products, and get in front of people, whilst 3) assuring an income from your efforts and keeping your business ticking over.
I started creating art again in 2018 after my daughter was born, and there began the story and where I became serious about producing art that I wanted to sell. Skip to 2020, I moved from corporate work, and being employed, to being a full time artist, self employed.
It's now 2022 and I know way know everything I need to and feel like I still have a lot to learn but I have learnt a few things and wanted to share them. So this blog explore a few ideas, tactics and things I've tried, and some I'm yet to, to help engage potential customers, sell artwork at events.
I hope you find it useful and please, if you want to chat or touch base with me, grab me on social @ellielovettartist or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, here are a few ideas from me to help you set the scene, sell and engage your audience:
Set up your stall
Different events will provide different spaces to set up in so remember to be flexible to this, have an idea in your head of what you want your stall to look like, but accept little tweaks and changes might need to be made for things you just cant plan for - thats ok its all part of the process :-) If you're doing an event in a large event hall, like the NEC in Birmingham, you will probably have a box space with 3 walls. Compare this to markets or local fairs, where you may be outside, and need a table and gazebo. One of the Christmas markets I took part in was in a garden polytunnel which actually worked so well, for the setting and the environment was buzzing. The important thing is to make the space you have work for you and what you're selling. Think about how you can make you're space look the best. I've taken inspiration from other stall holders on there's and have a few improvements of my own to make :-)
Invite people in
A natural follow on from the point above it, invite people into the space. I've designed a few stalls where I've allowed space inside for people to come in and view my work more closely. People love to look at art up close and this gives you a great opportunity to get in front of them, ask them what they like about it, tell them about you, and give them a flyer...heck it could even turn into a sale :-) I had a lady who came up to my stall and asked if I had a painting in [these colours] which I didn't but I said I could produce one. She paid a deposit there and then for a large canvas painting for her home.
Talk with open body language and a smile
Talking, smiling softly and showing an open body language is the best way to bring someone in, make them feel comfortable (you're not there to interrogate them :-). You want them to leave you feeling like they've had a positive experience. Be natural with it, not over engaging as this can put people off to. Don't be pushy but let them know you're there if they want to ask you anything. Don't assume they know what you do because you have a market, explain who you are and what you offer (in 10 seconds) and leave that knowledge with them. Maybe they buy something, maybe they don't but they may just remember you for their experience, which, well could end up in a sale later down the line.
Create what you do, in situ
I'll be honest, I've not tried this yet but I really would like to in future and I've seen other creators do it, and its very engaging and people will naturally stop and someone who is creating a masterpiece, to observe and enjoy the experience. Give it a go. I'm going to :-)
Business cards and Leaflets
Have these in an obvious place, add them to each purchase you make, and have plenty. When I did the NEC show, my goal was to speak to as many people as possible and provide a leaflet and business card. I could have done with more, but we live and learn. Tip: take plenty if you're doing large scale events and you're goal is to build you're audience and future opportunities.
Scan codes was one I hadn't thought about until I took part in an event at the NEC, but its a great way for people to explore what you do, if they don't want to stop at you're stall. They may just like to take information away and take time over things. Thats OK, we're not pushy, but providing scan codes means you've given the customer a really easy way of doing it. Great for social (increasing those followers,, increasing visits to your website or ecommerce shop). There are loads of sites that offer free scan codes that you can download, make pretty and print. Here's a good site so go try it out: https://www.qr-code-wizard.com/
Discounts and competitions
Offer discounts to purchases made on the day or competition for people to take part in. Maybe raise money for a charity by donating ticket purchases. You can offer this to people passing by and start a conversation. If this is a clear goal of yours to help drive traffic to your stall, whether you're using onsite promotional materials or through your social channels, make sure you shout about it and make it prominent on your stall.
Social tags, locations and online engagement
As we know social and promotional channels are an integral part of any business and promoting what you do, especially as a small business. Before the event have a think about what you're social strategy will be. You might want to make a note of any tags - location, event name, place, #tags that the event use, or that will resonate with 1) what you're selling 2) where you are 3) who you're with etc etc. Think about filming on stories, doing a little intro to tell people where you are and what you're selling, and tag the event in your social. Doing that means more people will see you. Plus its' great content for you followers and makes them even more engaged to see you doing you're thing and bossing you're business.
Design promotional materials on a budget
I'm sure most have heard of this but I'll note it anyway. Canva https://www.canva.com/ in my experience has been a game changer for me and my business. You can literally create anything on here and it's free for most options. Whether its' business cards, flyers, competitions, posters, or art prints to sell, you can do all this on Canva, and print it at home or locally, saving money on minimum print orders, postage and design fees. Perfect! go check it out, if you haven't already :-)
Markets stalls, fairs and events near and far are a great channel in getting seen, selling what you do, and building your business.
Keep spreading your net. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is any business. But have faith in the little actions you take, like; adding a leaflet to every sale, asking your customer to send a review and posting it, sharing your content, and getting out there and engaging with existing and new customers, that they will lead to new business and new opportunities.
One more thing, be open to try new things, and think outside the box. Some of our most inspiring and effective learnings are from exploring new things and not knowing actually how it will pan out, but confidence to give it a go with give you the self belief to keep going, and keep growing your business, even if you do find bumps in the road that challenge you from time to time.
Bye for now x
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