IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR! Okay, not *quite* but it’s going to be here before we know it – the holidays! For those with creative small businesses, this is often the busiest and most stressful yet rewarding time of the year. It’s always a good idea to start gearing up as soon as possible (easier said than done, I know). Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite ways to promote your holiday craft shows to get you in the spirit! These methods are free, easy, and don’t take too much time so you can get back to making allllllll that inventory - let’s get to it!
If you sell on Etsy you can utilize Etsy Local, which is a resource for customers looking to purchase handmade items in person rather than online (or maybe both). Type “Etsy Local” into your favorite search engine, or click here. Put the location of your show in the search bar and see if it comes up. If it does, all you have to do is click on the event name and then click the "I'm participating" button. You'll have 140 characters to give people a little preview of what you'll be bringing to the show. If you don’t see your event listed I would recommend contacting the organizer of the show to create the event rather than taking it upon yourself to do it. The organizer will have all of the information such as date, time, address, and event details, plus they will be able to notify the other show vendors that the Etsy Local event has been created. Once you've added your shop info, your shop will show up when people look at Etsy Local for shows in their area and it will show up on your shop under the "Local" tab.
Before I get into social media, it’s worth mentioning that you’ll more than likely have to do a lot of the work from a computer of some sort. I typically can’t do most of these actions on behalf of my business page from the Facebook app on my phone, so I do get on my desktop or laptop for most of this.
For Facebook, if you have a business page you can add the event to your page. Find the event for the show on Facebook, and then click the "..." button located in the upper right corner underneath the event cover photo and select "Add to Page..." Another window will pop up asking which page you'd like to add it to, just make sure you pick your business page!
Now, when fans visit your Facebook page this will appear under your Events tab. Some creatives make an entirely separate event for their specific brand too and add it to their page the same way. For Example, I’d create an event called something like “Craftinista Girl at Half Mile Handmade Holiday Show.” I don’t recommend this approach because you rely on your own fan base to generate hype about the event. By using the already existing event you will benefit from all of the promoting being done by the show organizers as well as other makers. Collaboration is a beautiful thing! *If you are a creative that has had success with this approach, I would love to hear about it – feel free to email me your thoughts/feedback!
On that note after you’re done adding the event to your page, invite some friends! You can do it as easily as sending the invite to your entire friends list or you can spend a bit more time specifically inviting those that you think would actually be interested or live in that area. I have friends all over the place, so I typically do take the time to only invite the people that I think the event would be relevant to. To me, this also makes it seem a bit less like “spam” since you’re only reaching out to those that might truly be interested in attending. Even if someone you invite only says that they’re “interested” this shows up in the feed that is seen by all of their friends, then one of their friends might see it and also mark that they are “interested” in attending, and so on. Sometimes I will look at the number of people that are “attending” and “interested” before I send invites to my people and then check back in a couple days to see how those numbers have changed. It’s surprising to see the impact that you’ve had just by inviting 20-25 of your friends.
You can also advertise the Facebook event via Instagram. Sometimes shows will send you a graphic that they created specifically for the event or you can create your own for free using Canva, or the AMB or Word Swag app (I think these are maybe $1 each). On the day(s) that you make your Instagram post about the show change the link in your bio to go directly to the Facebook event and mention that in your caption. I like to use Bitly to shorten the link to the event. However, some people have told me that when they see a link that looks like spam, they won’t click on it. You’ll just have to feel out what your fans prefer for that. Creating a Bitly link is an extra step, I just like it because of the clean look (and because I like to nerd out on the statistics it gives you); but I can’t say for sure what the impact either way is. I like to use Instagram to filter people to the Facebook event because Facebook with take care of all of the reminders for me. You can certainly continue to post about events on Instagram as often as you’d like leading up to the show, but if someone selects that they’re interested on Facebook, they will get a notification the week of the event automatically – less work for you!
Another small way to promote your shows on social media is simply tagging the shows accounts or using their specific hashtag(s). If you post a behind the scenes photo of you making an item for the show, tag them! If you complete a whole pile of something and post a picture of your accomplishment, tag them! If you’ve got the car all packed up and ready to go the morning of the show and put it on social media, tag them! These are subtle reminders to your fans and customers that the show is coming up and serves as a good reminder to come and check it out. Also, by tagging the show they might repost your photo and it just might get you some more followers in the process. Win, win, win!
As the date of the show comes closer you can also post on the “discussion” of the event on Facebook too. I try to remember to do this 1-2 days before. My approach is usually an introduction of sorts – I might say something like “Hi, I’m Capri with Craftinista Girl (tag your page, don’t just type it) and I can’t wait to show you all of my handmade baby goods at the show on Saturday, see you soon!” ALWAYS include a photo with your post! People often disregard posts that are just words, show them a photo that catches their attention and then they’ll read what you’re saying about the photo. Other ideas of what you could post:
- A photo previewing some of the items you'll be bringing
- Advertise any sales you might be running at that event - "Headbands $3 each or 2 for $5 this Saturday ONLY"
- If you know other makers that will be at the show tag them in a post
Throughout all of the social media activity, I highly recommend interacting and reciprocating as much as possible. I understand that it’s not always easy to keep up with all of the notifications, but try the best you can to respond to comments and questions if you see them. If a show posts a photo of your products leave a comment saying “thanks for sharing!” You might also consider re-posting or making your own post directing your followers to check out the show page. Also, if you are featured, read the comments! Are people asking questions? Are they complimenting your creations? Take the time to go through and respond to those comments. Think of other ways to interact too! Maybe the show makes a post featuring one of your maker-friends. Comment on that with sincerity and excitement - “OMG I bought one of Capri’s baby bibs for my niece and she wears it ALL THE TIME!”
More than likely you have more than one holiday show during the season too. Another idea is to advertise your upcoming shows in your booth at each show. Sometimes I’ll hand-write or print a schedule of upcoming shows and put it in a cute frame that I have out on my table somewhere. I have had shoppers snap a photo of that list on their phone or even tell me they have plans to attend some of the upcoming shows already. It’s advertising and can sometimes be a conversation starter too! I’ve also seen some makers use postcard sized flyers to put in customers’ bags or to keep out on the table for people to take with the list of upcoming shows.
One last way that you can promote your holiday shows for free is to contact local business owners (like me) and straight up ask! Find the brick-and-mortar shops in your area that carry handmade items, support the handmade movement, or are proponents of small business in general and simply ask if they’d be interested in helping promote the show. You might also be able to reach out to places like your Chamber of Commerce or a local tourism office. Maybe you could even approach the place that you work at! Ask them to hang a flyer in their window, put some handouts at the checkout, include the show info in their newsletter, or even see if they will do a shout out on their social media account(s). Try to have as much of the “work” done as possible when you contact/approach businesses. Don’t make them search for the details, provide them with everything they need up front. Send them a graphic, or the direct link to the event rather than making them go out and get the information themselves. If you say you’re going to bring flyers by, follow through with that. The more prepared you are, the more likely they will be willing/interested in helping now and in the future.
Throughout the process of advertising your holiday shows please be mindful of anything that the show has specifically asked you to do or not to do. Show organizers have often spent time, money, and many sleepless nights to give their show a branded/cohesive look and feel. They have researched you, your business, and their anticipated customers, they know what they’re doing! Don’t get too carried away with interacting or participating on social media. Don’t go make your own graphic for the show if they have provided you with one. Read emails from them in their entirety. Be respectful and use all of the resources they have worked hard to provide you with!
Do you have more successful/free/inexpensive methods for promoting your shows? Do you have an upcoming show you’d like us to share with our customers, fans, and followers? Drop me a line anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d love to hear from you!
Now, get back to making – can’t wait to see what you’ll be bringing to your holiday shows this year!