Thursday, August 6, 2009

So you want to start selling at shows - Part 2

Okay, you’ve decided on a show(s) you’d like to try, made your applications and have been accepted. Now what? Well, I think you’ve got a few business items to take care of if you haven’t done so already.

Task 1

Consider opening a merchant account to accept credit cards at shows. Credit card processing is easy for us on Etsy, but at shows it’s a little more difficult. If you don’t already have a merchant account there are endless options available to you. Just as the options available to you vary, so do the costs associated with a merchant relationship. Do you want to use the old style imprinter to process? It’s cumbersome, but sometimes cheaper especially if you have limited access to electricity at many shows. Or you could go all out with an electronic processor that uses wireless communication. This is more expensive from the equipment standpoint, but a timesaver on the processing end. Because many of my shows are in locations where I don’t have wireless service, I use an imprinter and phone my card sales in at the end of the day.

Many trade associations, councils or organizations have a partnering relationship with a merchant bank to offer services at a reduced rate to members. My merchant account set up and processing had reduced fees from the bank because of my membership in the Potter’s Council. Most people who have merchant accounts agree that their sales increase because they’ve made a purchase more convenient for the overwhelming number of people who use credit and debit cards over other forms of payment. I like this little portable imprinter.

Task 2 -

The purpose of a show is to sell your products, but ultimately, you want to cultivate long term customer relationships. So you’ll want some promotional materials for the people who make purchases and those that browse so they can take information home with them. Some important items include are business cards, product care cards, upcoming event cards and a mailing list sign-up sheet.

What others have you seen from other vendors? I usually have a small table at the side of my booth for these items, including information about other people or products I promote. All these cards can be ordered from your local printer, office supply store or online so do some shopping and see what you find. I’m always amazed at the people who call me, sometimes a year or more later, because they kept a card they picked up at show.

Task 3 –

How are you going to package your products after a sale? Jewelry frequently is placed in a pretty box or draw string bag or large items like metal garden stakes could have a large plastic bag wrapped around them. Whatever your product, consider how you’d like to present it to the purchaser and order the materials necessary to do so. The size of my products vary from coaster size to 18” platters so I have three different size shopping bags with very secure handles and newsprint on a roll to wrap them safely for the purchaser to carry. Everybody’s needs here will be different, but consider your needs and then take time right now to order the appropriate supplies.

Are you overwhelmed yet? Sorry, that’s certainly not my intention, but I firmly believe you get what you put into a show. Presenting yourself and your product well will pay off if you’ve done your homework and chosen a show that is appropriate for your market.

Be well