Yesterday I talked about my incredible luck in getting an actual booth at the Oregon Country Fair. It was great, but it doesn't solve my greater challenge - a space where customers know that they can find me year after year. My desire for a dependable spot has a lot to do with my "sales cycle". Most customers don't buy my work the first time that they see it. They wait and think about it, coming back to see me the following year and make the purchase. At Country Fair, this just can't happen. I don't know if I'll be there from one year to the next or, more importantly, where. The fair is HUGE and someone looking for me will have a heck of a time finding me.
Folks tell me that the way for a new vendor to find a permanent space is to network with booth owners. Well, how am I supposed to do that when I'm working in my own booth all day? This was the impetus to create a portable booth in the first place, and it wasn't really diminished by lucking into a booth this year. I still don't know if I'll have space next year or where I'll be.
[Stack of Business Cards]
So as soon as the event closed to the public at 7:00 PM, I hit the road with my marketing message, "I want a regular booth space." I had a sign to that effect and gave cards to anyone associated with any booth, even if they didn't have space for me.
Of course, I won't know until next year if this marketing message was received, but I did inadvertently enlist some people to get the message out there. You see, my booth looked so good and so permanent wherever it was that people didn't understand that I was moving. I had a couple of different customers walk away to think and come back to find that the booth was gone. Not only closed, but literally not in the place where they clearly remembered seeing it. Lighting, umbrella, merchandise, and racks, all just vanished! They started asking the booth holders in the area if they knew where I was or how they could find me. It was way more perfect than I could possibly have planned for. I want people who have space to share to know that I am tired of moving and having customers unable to find me. They got the message delivered by frantic customers. You can't pay for that kind of advertising! We'll see next year if this marketing tactic was successful.
Oh, yeah, and the cart performed perfectly. I hauled that thing nearly two miles, over all terrain, through mud, up and over bridges, and through crowded streets. Yes, I had to walk backwards while watching for low trees, tall roots, and other strange obstacles, but I did it and the cart did exactly the job that I had designed it to do.