The less obvious reasons to join a market.
If you have never sold at a market before and are wondering if it could be a good introduction to selling your handmade items, then read on!
If you’re a seasoned market vendor, you can read on too! You might just see another side to attending markets that you had never actually thought of.
I am a creative person that arranges markets. I love promoting creativity and giving creative people the opportunity to sell their items. And I have seen highs and lows. People who sell out completely, and people who leave feeling disappointed with the amount they sold. One thing I know for sure is that it can feel really awful to sell nothing. So it's important to know that no matter how much you sell, it's never a waste of time getting out there and attending markets. Because it’s not just the amount you sell that makes for a great market.
In my mind there are three reasons that you should sell at an art and design market. And it’s not all about money.
So obviously selling is, of course, a very good reason to attend a market – Whichever craft you choose, there are costs. It’s nice to recoup some of that investment and hopefully with a nice little profit on top.
But stop and think for a minute, is a market really your best avenue for selling? You have no control over who comes, who are your customers? There is no way of knowing who will show up on the day and if they will be buyers or browsers. Whereas in a website, online shop, Etsy, Epla or Folksy to name but a few, you know that people are finding you through keywords – They’re actually actively looking for products like yours.
Now I’m not trying to talk you out of going to markets – so please indulge me a little longer and read on a bit further.
No, there is more to markets than meets they eye. It’s not just about turning a profit. There is way much more to it than that.
RESEARCH & FEEDBACK
Another good reason is quite simply to get customer feedback about your products.
- Are people interested in what you make?
- What questions do they ask?
- Do they think the price is fair?
- Do they mention that it would make a nice gift for someone, Mum, Dad, Granny, friend, child? This is your customer base being described for you.
All of this is really great intel, so listen and learn! This is feedback that you will not get from your website or online shop. If people don’t like the price, then they will just leave the site and you’ll be none the wiser. If you offer to create custom pieces, but it doesn’t say that on your Instagram profile, well they won’t ask. You will get a like, but not an order.
Meeting potential customers face to face gives you the opportunity to interact with them. You can ask questions too. What are they looking for? Do they prefer another colour? (that you can maybe make or already have with you). You can actually turn a question in to a custom order.
In Norway people do not like to touch products at markets. So how can you present your items to them so that they really SEE what you make. Is it better to lay them flat or hang them up? This will give you great information on how to display your items - giving you insight in to how to take great photos for your online shop.
What do they want to know? If they ask questions, can you answer them? If the answer is yes, then you have a great blog post right there. Or perhaps an image for Instagram or information for your Facebook page.
Being at a market is a great opportunity to get out there and meet potential customers, and see how they interact with your items.
What words do they use to describe your items? You can use these items as keywords on your site and in your shop. How long do they look? Can you do anything to turn that in to a sale? If it works there then it might be something you can transfer to your marketing materials.
Do their eyes light up with delight, but the price puts them off? You could lower your prices (but nobody wants to do that) or flip it and explain how luxurious your products are. How long it takes to create that item they admire. You can explain how expensive the raw materials are, where they come from, maybe they’re hard to get hold of. There is another blog post right there. All of this is valuable information that you can use to your advantage and use in marketing and planning.
The third reason – networking, is highly underrated in creative circles. It’s not just suit-wearing business men and women that need to network. We do too! We need to get out among like-minded people and stay inspired, stay sharp, and stay up to date with the world. We need to look up from our tools sometimes and see what is going on around us.
We need to mingle, chat, be included and absorb creativity – And there is an abundance of this at an art and design market. You will meet other creative people who will be genuinely interested in what you create. There is ample opportunity to meet and mingle and be inspired by others by going where creative people hang out.
So you see, markets aren’t just about selling. And your table fee gets you more than just a table to sell from. It opens up a window in to your customers thoughts and helps you see through their eyes.
Keep your eyes and ears open and you will get more than your table fee back, if you add up the value of all the information and inspiration you can gain from joining a market. That intel can lead to even better marketing, a better online presence and a better turnover all-round.
So next time you think about joining a market, don’t just think about if you can sell enough to make it worth your while. Think about what else you can gain from getting out there amongst real people. I promise you, there’s a lot more to be gained than you would imagine.
To (mis)quote Jessie J - It’s not (just) about the money money money!
Handmade in Norway
Creativity and Community