WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
This past weekend I attended an arts and craft show. My purpose in attending was to support the women’s club at my church. They ended up having about 50 participants displaying a very wide variety of wares.
I will be teaching a class on networking in the next few weeks and I decided to use this as part of my material, by observing the vendors in action.
My first action was to slowly walk by all the exhibitors and see if they greeted me.
- About 70% of the vendors did not acknowledge me as I walked by their displays. Many were sitting inside their booths busy doing something; same story for those sitting behind their display tables.
- The balance smiled at me and offered a greeting. I stopped and visited with those that acknowledged me and asked them about their products and how they got into the business.
- For the majority it started as a hobby. some were doing it as a full time business.
- There were no young people displaying products. I would categorize the majority of the exhibitors as “middle age”.
- Craft shows were the major point of sale.
- About 70% had a website from which their products could be bought.
- Even though I expressed an interest in their products, no one asked me for my contact information to send me additional information.
- The people that bought products were not asked for any contact information, even though some of the products like soap, unique toys, and certain foods might have been something that the purchaser may have wanted to order more of.
- I managed to spend more time with several of the vendors and I had an opportunity to ask them what their biggest challenge was. The two most frequently stated issues were:
- Inability to sell enough products to sustain themselves. It was interesting to note that shows such as this was their main, and in most cases, only marketing effort.
- The second most cited issue was working capital to be able to increase production and increase marketing.
- The vendors that had other full time jobs all said that they wished that they could make this their full time jobs.
My take away was that a long term vision was missing and that there was a lack of experience as to how to take their businesses to the next level.
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