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7 Common Vendor Event Blunders

“˜Tis the season for vendor events. I went to a couple of craft shows this weekend. It’s always good to keep up on what the competition is doing; plus I might see some treasures I have to have.   Some of the vendors stated that things were “a little slow” (translate: they weren’t selling much of anything).   Sure we can blame the economy and I will acknowledge that may have some bearing on it, but I venture to guess that those most affected by the current economic situation likely just stay away from craft bazaars. So if there were people and they weren’t buying, it’s time to take a deep look at the root cause.

I didn’t have to look far to find a number of common vendor mistakes that were likely the culprit for their low or no sales. If you’re going to participate in a vendor show, avoid these seven costly errors:

1.             Little or no inventory for sale. Facts are most people go to vendor events to buy things. They want to take it home on the spot. They don’t want to order it. If they wanted to order they’d likely just stay home and order online.   Most people are not (or shouldn’t be) comfortable giving money or a credit card to a complete stranger in hopes they will receive their product in three weeks.   If you don’t have ample supply and variety of inventory to sell, don’t plan on any sales during the event.

2.             No signage.   I walked up to more than a few tables that didn’t have the company logo anywhere. I should have known before I even reached the table what vendor was at that booth.   Then once I reached the table there was no price list to be found anywhere and none of the products had any price tags.   Do I assume those were all display items? Or were those vendors just waiting for me to ask “How much?”   You know the saying – “˜if you have to ask, you can’t afford it’.

3.             No business cards.   Who would take the time and financial investment to set up a booth and then not have a way for customers to contact you after the event?

4.             Product not labeled with vendor contact info.   What if I wanted to reorder more?   If I was buying this for a gift the recipient would have no way of reordering.

5.             Vendors attacking shoppers.   No not literally attacking – but the moment I came within ear’s shot “Have you heard of XYZ?” “Do you want to sign up for our drawing?”   “Why don’t you book a party and get some free?!”   Eek – back it down tootsie.   There is a fine line between engaging the customer and attacking them.   Perhaps a simple “Hello” or “How are you doing tonight?” or “Is it cold enough for you out there?”   Get their attention, let them know you’re not a total slug, but allow the customers to look in peace.

6.             No samples or catalogs.   I know that some people will take anything if it’s free, regardless of any genuine interest.   So as a vendor, you do need to be careful not to give away the farm and gouge your profits too much.   Yet free samples have been proven to bring a wonderful return on your investment.   People need to smell, touch, feel, see, or hear – before they’ll be really engaged.   If your catalogs are expensive at least have a stash set farther back on the table and offer them to those who pause long enough or look semi interested.

7.             Total lack of involvement.   Just the opposite of the attack vendors are those who sit behind the table talking on their phone or texting or chit chatting with non-customers.   When I said don’t attack passers-by I also wasn’t suggesting that you should act like they’re an intrusion on your time.   Use common sense and find a happy medium.

One last note about lack of inventory; some would argue that it’s ok to attend these events if your intent is to simply take orders.   Sure, if you have absolutely nothing better to do with 4-8 hours of your time or can’t think of a better way that you could potentially get new customers or recruits, then I say go and have a grand old time.   Otherwise, experience has told me that you’re setting yourself up for disappointment if you are not prepared and if you don’t put your best foot forward at these types of events.

Happy holidays – enjoy the busy gift giving season while it is here!

About the Author: Laurie Ayers is a WAHM from Michigan and a Superstar Director with Scentsy Wickless Candles. She enjoys helping others start and maintain a candle business. You can find Laurie at http://la.Scentsy.us or http://www.ThrivingCandleBusiness.com

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