Saturday Sidecar- Selling Your Wares at a Booth – It’s All On You

Written by Gina Blitstein on January 26, 2013. Posted in Saturday Sidecar

I recently interviewed Saturday Sidecar driver, Barb Mason, designer behind bobbi kahn design jewelry. She clued me in on the ins and outs of selling at a vendor booth. Barb sells her necklaces, bracelets and earrings online but primarily from her booth at events and fairs throughout her local area. She’s been doing this for several years now and has learned a lot about the booth-selling experience.

In the first part of this article, “Saturday Sidecar: Selling Your Wares at a Booth – Are You Up For It?” we discussed the very first steps to booth sales – what to consider even before you identify a booth-selling opportunity. This article picks up where Part I left off and takes you on the rest of the journey to sales at a vendor booth and helps you answer the question, “Are you ready for it to be all on you?”
Find out what is provided – and what isn’t – before the event
Some events and fairs are scrupulously planned; and some are less-so. Since selling at a booth can be an uniquely isolated experience without uniform organizational norms, Barb advises that you make sure of certain details prior to the event to help ensure your success:
● Is the event itself marketed or are you on your own to advertise your presence there?
● Is electricity available if you need it? Is there an extra cost if you do?
● How far is parking from the display area?
● Can you set up in advance or must you do it the day of the event?
● Is there a sheltered area available in case of inclement weather?
Decisions…decisions
Selling from a booth can be liberating and profitable but a lot of the experience is dependent upon your decisions and actions. There aren’t a lot of hard-and-fast rules so a lot of your success depends on factors you alone decide. Some decisions a booth vendor needs to make are:
● How to decorate and arrange your booth so it’s attractive and inviting
● What particular merchandise to display, how much to display – and how to display it
● Show specials, sales, incentives
Be aware of what you’re in for
● There’s a lot of physical labor involved: Setting up your booth or tent, lugging materials and merchandise from your vehicle to the display area, then unloading and setting everything up, not to mention loading it all back up again at the end of the day
● Long hours, spent in one place with limited breaks for meals or bathroom
● Incredibly busy times and/or interminable lulls
● Vulnerability to loss or theft. To keep yourself and your merchandise secure, make certain cash is kept out of sight. Keep a keen eye on your merchandise and your booth’s visitors at all times. Display your most valuable items within your view.
Face-to-face selling
Barb suggests you determine your in-person sales personality. If your sales are usually made online, you may initially feel uncomfortable in a face-to-face sales situation. Be true to your own personality; be friendly and assertive but don’t push yourself to adopt a “false” sales persona. The insincerity in your demeanor will show through and you’ll discourage buyers. She describes her own as a “helping” approach. She watches what people touch and uses that as an opportunity to strike up a conversation about the details of the piece. She advises you ask before attempting to touch people as you help them try on merchandise, as touching makes some folks uncomfortable. Some buyers move more slowly than others; respect the time it takes to make the sale.
Best Practices
The takeaway advice here is to be realistic.
● Treat each show individually. Every venue is different, as is every group of patrons and every event. Expect to be surprised and you probably won’t be.
● Determine your goals for each event (are you looking to generate income on the spot or are you looking at this as a way to gain exposure and gather some email addresses?)
● Be patient while you learn from each event. Your experience will grow and your instincts will become honed with each show you do.
● Learn from those more experienced. Pick the brains of other vendors at each event to learn their tips and tricks for navigating the world of booth sales.

Booth sales aren’t simple or uncomplicated. A lot of your success will have to do with decisions you make about how best to represent your Sidecar in person. It will take time to develop your knowledge and sales technique in this venue. Booth sales, however, can be an effective and unique way to showcase your offerings to an interested audience who are there to buy.

Sidecar Tuneup Tip: If you’re aware of the numerous initial factors involved with selling your Sidecar offerings at a booth and you’re ready to give it a go, these are the things you’ll need to know to make your efforts as successful as possible. Most of the decisions will be all on you – so be prepared for a learning curve as you navigate the potentially profitable world of booth sales.

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