1. Make sure you plan your booth display perfectly. We highly recommend Bruce Baker’s CD Booth Design and Merchandising which addresses booth style, flow, color, lighting, and more to help you make the most impact during your show.
2. Know your pitch. What is your story? Why does your work have appeal? How can you tie your handmade line into what customers need and value? How does it reach them emotionally?
3. Know the features of your line and know the benefits. Your mugs are microwave and dishwasher safe (feature) which means they are super easy to use with carefree maintenance (benefit). Your jewelry comes packaged in beautiful boxes (feature) which is easily merchandised and makes a dynamic presentation in a retail store (benefit). Plan to focus on the benefits when selling.
4. Pre-plan for negotiations. You may need to be creative in dealing with gallery buyers. What if someone asks you to consign a portion of an order? What if they want terms you can’t give? How flexible are you willing to be? Know your options and your counteroffers for a variety of scenarios. Plan how you can cross-sell or upsell your customers to increase sales volume or get the best possible presence in their stores.
5. Prepare your sales materials. Are you ready with postcards, business cards, line sheets and brochures that will really work? And how do you plan to give them out? Leaving brochures or business cards on the table isn’t always a good idea, because it’s easy for shoppers to pick them up and walk away. Hand them out personally once you have had a chance to speak with the prospect. And don’t forget to ask for their business card, too.
6. Get clear on your production schedule. How much can you produce and how soon? You must ship wholesale orders on time, on a schedule you are able to maintain so you don’t disappoint buyers or overburden yourself. Bring a calendar and use it while you write show orders.
7. Know your capabilities. If you get a large order from a major buyer, can you scale up to meet that? Do you have people in mind to pitch in and help with production if necessary? Give some thought before you go on how you can manage this type of an order without going crazy.
And if you can’t handle production of everything a buyer wants, how can you still preserve the order? What would you say? Perhaps, “My studio isn’t equipped to ship orders to all 100 of your stores, but I think we could ship 25 orders. Could we structure this order to ship to one of your regions instead? Or could we stagger shipping dates to coincide with my production capabilities?”
8. Plan your show specials, if any. Limited time specials create a sense of urgency to buy, but they must make sense for your business and profitability. Giving free shipping is often more significant to buyers than offering a percentage discount. Or include a baker’s dozen for a purchase of twelve. You need to do the math ahead of time and find out what you can afford to do, and create specials wisely to drive even more sales.
9. Head off problems. Go over the show promoter’s instructions and information carefully, and call them with any questions. Are you writing your orders on paper? Some artists fax or email their orders to themselves each night just in case the worst happens and their order file is stolen or lost.
10. Sharpen your selling skills. Bruce Baker’s CD Dynamic Sales and Customer Service Techniques is perfect pre-show listening to get yourself in the right frame of mind to speak to buyers and be ready to maximize your sales potential at the show.
Add any items to your own checklist that don’t appear here, so that you are completely mentally ready for a successful show. The last thing you want is to turn those pre-show butterflies into a total panic attack because you didn’t think ahead.
Want to learn more about successful wholesaling? Join us at the Arts Business Institute’s Winter Workshop in Philadelphia on February 16-17. Our students have called this comprehensive course “life-changing.” Is this the year to take your creative business to a higher level? Your space is waiting!