I’m a big fan of  designer-maker open showroom craft-fair Christmas market pop-up things, and relish the chance to get all my gift requirements for the festive season directly from the artists themselves at events like cockpit arts  open studios or the delightful Crafty Fox Market. I ran a workshop recently for some new start-ups and a few were considering the Christmas fair/craft stall option. We discussed several ways to ensure shoppers engage with the stall and of course purchase their wares and I thought it would be useful to share them here:

  1. Stand up. You may well be slightly nervous on the day and standing allows you to dissipate the nervous adrenalin that can beset us. It also shows your shoppers that you are keen and enthusiastic to meet them, as sitting creates a distance between you and the stall and can make shoppers feel as if you aren’t bothered to talk to them.
  2. Check your body language. Remember than one of the appeals of the “meet the maker” concept is that you actually get excited about meeting the maker. A scowly, arms crossed designer may fit the popular perception of the tortured artistic genius but you’ll notice that more people are shopping at the stalls where they feel welcomed. Take a moment before the day to close your eyes and check your body for tensions and try to have a strong, neutral posture. This way you’ll come over as open to meeting your customers.
  3. Small talk. Try not to jump in directly with a sales message but instead engage the shopper with chit-chat about the event (really busy isn’t it?) or ask them where they got their lovely Christmas jumper.  People just love to talk about themselves and this is why they come out to shop instead of staying at home and ordering on-line.
  4. Stay Positive. Yes this may be the year that you need to make the repayments on your kiln or your studio. But try as best as you can to keep the desperation out of your conversation. People prefer to purchase from places that make them feel positive, and are less likely to be moved to a sale by a sob story. So when asked “how is business” have an up-beat or memorable story to tell them about what you’ve been making rather than whipping out the P&L and asking for a bridging loan.
  5. Smile. As with the body language above humans respond well to a cheery smile and it makes them smile back, releasing endorphins into their bloodstream and making them more likely to purchase. Shopping is a well-known mini-high so your smile can encourage a purchase and everyone is a winner.

I’ll be on the look out for good examples of craft stall sellers who communicate well this weekend and will share them on twitter @loisireson Happy Trading!