Fair Game: 5 tips to market your practice at craft fairs and trade shows

[Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.]

I went to a big holiday craft fair this weekend (hey, the mother-in-law was in town) and was very pleased to find two massage therapists tucked in amongst the handmade soaps, Christmas wreaths, and interesting fudges. What a great place to attract clients and to make some gift certificate sales.

Don’t Let This Be You

The problem was that these therapists were hiding. They were hunched at the back of their respective booths looking glum. This was sad. These therapists had spent about $200 to be part of this two-day event, and a lot of time to get organized, and ultimately it was wasted. They weren’t going to attract any new clients or make any gift certificate sales.

I’m all for marketing massage and bodywork at fairs and shows. If you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s the best way to introduce yourself — and your work — to new people. Here are 5 tips to market your practice:

1. Get Your Game Face On

This is The Most Important Thing. Potential clients are not going to stride up to you and say, “Gosh, I’ve been meaning to schedule a year’s worth of sessions with someone. You look like you’ll do!” You have to stand at the front of your booth for the whoooooooole show. Stand up straight, put your shoulders back (open your heart), smile, and make pleasant eye contact. Brace yourself to be ignored and occasionally rejected. It happens. It’s not personal. For some people this takes a true effort. If you feel you cannot be “on display” then this venue is not for you. And that’s really okay. If you feel like you can get there with effort, warm up by talking to people in line at the store or waiting for the bus the day before. On the day of the fair, talk to the other vendors around you while you’re setting up your booth. By the time the doors open to the public, you’ll be ready to go.

2. Know Who You Are Trying to Attract

Something I touch on time and again is the importance of understanding who your ideal client is. While you will be pleasant to everyone, you want to keep your energy and your words (and your marketing tools!) focused on your ideal client(s).

3. Get Your Introduction Down Pat

Work on a short sentence you can use to introduce both yourself and the benefits of your practice. You can have several, depending on the focus of your practice. Be brief and to the point.

  • “Hi, I specialize in neck and shoulder work. It’s especially great for people who work in [offices].”
  • “I’m a foot reflexologist. My work helps you with [back pain].”
  • “My practice is focused on getting you through the week with enough energy left over for the weekend.”

4. Be the Authority

“It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” Dizzy Dean had it right. Once you do have someone stop to talk to you, you should be prepared to be clear about your talent. You should be saying to active seniors, “I’m really good at helping keep you active.” Or to post-surgical patients, “I’ve had extensive training in [ACL] recovery work.” Be specific about what benefits your clients receive from your work. Telling them your work is relaxing is nice, but the standard response is, “I don’t have time to relax.” Instead, tell them how your work will help them.

5. Be the Resource

This is going to help you in two ways: You will emphasize your authority and give you the opportunity to get a prospective client’s contact information.

Passive: You can hand out a flyer with [stretches for the office]. Your contact information and an invitation to visit your website for “more good information” would be included, too. Once they get to your site, they should find a place they can sign up to get a newsletter from you (chock-full of relevant stuff, of course) and/or a place to sign up for notices of specials and new services.

Active: After you’ve talked to a person that you think would make a good client say, “I have a lot of information on dealing with [shoulder pain]. Let me get your email/address and I’ll send you the flyer.” Take down their information, then say, “I do send out a newsletter with good information every month or so. Shall I put you on that list?”

In Conclusion

As I said, having a booth at craft or trade shows is not for everyone. It takes a certain mindset (slightly insane) and extra preparation. For those who are willing to go out to meet their prospective clients, it is rewarding and revealing. You never know whom you’re going to meet. You never know what you’re going to learn about how you see your practice.