Advertising & Promotion for a Successful Event

Basic Promotion

Event organizers need TWO separate advertising campaigns for a successful event. First, they must advertise for vendors . Then, the month before the event they must advertise again, this time for customers to come and buy from their vendors.

Advertising for  vendors ensures new products to make your event appealing year after year. You also need new vendors to fill the spaces of those who move away, or drop out of the business.

Advertising to the public before the event brings buyers for your vendors; without good sales your vendors will not return.

The most effective advertising for craftsmen, artists, etc. is in a trade publication.

Advertising for exhibitors in local newspapers reaches thousands of people who are not interested in being exhibitors in a craft show. (If you have dental equipment for sale, the most effective advertising would be in a trade magazine for dentists, etc.)

Advertising to the general public in regular newspapers for craftsmen and artists costs more and yields less because you will not reach your target audience. Our readers are craftsmen, artists, food vendors and re-sellers: they are potential participants in your event, even if they live far away. Sometimes they travel to see family and sell their work at shows along the way.

Who Reads Art & Craft Show Yellow Pages?

Craftsmen, artists, food vendors, and resellers/importers. All are looking for a place to sell their product, and that’s why they subscribe to our magazine.. We publish detailed descriptions from your submitted form, so you get responses from the exhibitor profile you want.

The listing of your event includes date, location, contact information, eligibility requirements, along with attendance information and show history, web site, email address, space sizes and local sales tax, along with information about what else is happening on-site that may influence sales: 3 stages of live music, Antique & Classic Car Show, pony rides, etc.

A display ad in Art & Craft Show Yellow Pages is a great attention-getter!

Display ads are positioned near the front of the magazine with or close to articles geared to our reader’s needs, e.g.: creating effective display, marketing techniques, tax information, etc. Each display ad is visible for a three month period until the next issue. The best time to run a display ad is at least 5-6 months before the event. Display ads in multiple issues ensure response from a mix of applicants. We are constantly getting new subscribers, so a display ad in the next issue reaches a new audience, as well as reminding readers who have seen it before to apply.

Create your display ad to have basic information surrounded by lots of white space. It commands attention so the reader refers to the detailed description in the show listings section.

Every event in your display ad is listed separately in the listings section by state and date, with complete details of your event. Each listing also appears in condensed form in the index in the back of the magazine, with each event listed in chronological order. There’s also an Advertiser’s Index. Each provides another chance for your event to be seen.

What kind of an event will you have?

Fine art only? (2 dimensional art: water colors, oil paintings, photography, etchings, collage, mixed media, etc.)

Crafts only? Hand-crafted by exhibitor?

A mix of the above? Art & Crafts, - Hand-crafted by exhibitor?

Art & Crafts, with selected new merchandise?  Art, crafts, select collectibles, imports, new merchandise? - This is called an OPEN show.

Will you add entertainment to your event? This can be anything from live music, pony rides, hay-wagons, etc. a separate craft area for kids with Make It and Take It supervised craft creation and/or babysitting.

Have you considered joint-ventures with an Antique Auto Show, Classic Cars, etc.?

If you are organizing a fund-raiser, you may want to sell food, - or perhaps local non-profits would like to provide food for the event. Check with the local Board of Health for requirements. If you accept independent food vendors, will the space fee be a set fee or a commission, - or fee-plus-commission?

Each of the above additions to an event changes it in some way as far as vendor sales are concerned.

Pony-rides and mid-way booths/entertainment usually appeal to producers of low-cost goods and impulse products, vendors who sell imports and general merchandise for resale, such as baseball caps, Beanie-Babies, etc. They know it will draw crowds, and their product price, size and appeal fit this crowd.

Juried or screened art and craft events with a small admission fee and no other distractions tend to attract exhibitors with mid-priced and/or upper-range priced products. If your event will be art, crafts, or art and crafts only, you may want to control the quality of work to be sold, - or not. (First or second-year shows should not be juried events. You want maximum participation, and a broad range of products for your customers.) A few years later, when the event is known in the community, you may want to upgrade it a bit, to hand-crafted by exhibitor only, - and either take the vendor’s word for it, - or jury or screen their work.

Work can be screened informally, or juried, by requesting photos of the product to be sold. These should arrive as clear pictures, one product per photo, taken up-close and clear enough to see if it is attractive, and well-made.

The Second Part of Your Advertising Campaign

Before the Event

Two months before the event make a list from the yellow pages of monthly, weekly and daily newspapers.

Send notification of your event to each of the monthly publications’ Event Calendar section. Make it brief: Who, What, When, Where, including the time, and admission fees if applicable.

“ABC Community Arts Council presents the 3rd. Annual Art & Craft Fair at the fairgrounds on Rte. 9, Saturday and Sunday June 4th & 5th, from 10:00-5:00. Handcrafted work and fine art will be sold for the benefit of the Children’s wing of XYZ Hospital. Adm. $2.” If rides, etc. are available: “Food, Apple-Pie Sale, live musical entertainment, pony rides, and a separate supervised craft-making area for children 6-12.” (Needless to say, sign up volunteers and staff early!)

If a non-profit organization benefits from the proceeds, mention it in the news release. Keep it as brief as possible and they may print it in its entirety.

Do the same for weekly newspapers 2 weeks before, and again a week before, - and make sure the most popular daily papers have your information in time to be published the week before your event.

Contract for display ads in the local daily paper beginning the week before the event. Make it as large as possible, at least 3” x 4 or 5”, preferably with a black background and white letters for all or part of the ad to help it compete for attention on the page, (called reverse type). It should run daily, for a week or at least 6 days, through the date of the event.

Focus on the needs of both your exhibitors and your customers, - and cater to them! If you’ve had at least one show in the past, take time to consider what went well. Ask your most successful exhibitors for tips on how to keep the good parts of the event, and make the rest, - better. In down times, we all look for a sense of safety, security and family. Capitalize on these areas in your approach to your show, from food, to advertising, to the kind of products your exhibitors sell at your event.

Continue to rotate exhibitors at your show. This includes bringing in new ones to attract new customers along with changing the traffic flow, - how people move through the show, - to keep it fresh.

Don’t shrink your advertising budget. If you have less money for promotions this year, don’t let that affect the quality of advertising. Your entire event needs to be professional—from the application to the ads to the entrance, - to the tables, etc.

Ask! Don’t ever stop asking your customers, both craftsmen and paying guests, for suggestions on how to improve. If you have a hard time getting feedback, offer an incentive for returning a survey or give customers a discount (or even a free drink coupon) for participating in a survey.

Inexpensive and Free Advertising:

Two weeks before the event, near the event site, on a major road, put up a big sign: “Craft Fair” and the date and location. That’s all people will be able to read as they drive by.

A month ahead: Print miniature posters, 4 on a page, with information: (Who, what, when, where, etc.) “Holiday Craft Fair, November 20, St Jude’s Parish Hall, 10:00-5:00. Handcrafted gifts and Specialty Foods” - “Free Admission.” If you have special events planned, this is the place to mention them: “Frog-jumping contest, live music, hayrides, apple-dunking, -more.”

These should be prepared on light-colored paper, and about 50 sent to each exhibitor at least a month before your event. Enclose a letter asking them to take them to shows, put them on their table as ‘pick-ups’ and to put one in with each purchase. This will boost attendance, and their sales at your event!

Two weeks before the event: Put posters on 8 1/2 x 11” sheets of light-colored paper, place them in local supermarkets and other store windows no earlier than two weeks before the event. If they are up for too long a time, people don’t even see them anymore.

Ten days before the event:

Radio: Some radio stations will read community service events on the air. Send in 3” x 5” cards to each radio station, one for each day of the week prior to the event:

“Please read this with your community service announcements and special coming events on Monday, June 1st”

(Make sure you include: Who, What, When, Where, - event times and admission fees if applicable, along with miscellaneous information, such as hand-crafted work by local artists and artisans, or hand-crafted work by artists and artisans from all over the northeast (nation), hay-rides, contests, etc.)

(Write another card “to be read on Tuesday, June 2nd”, Wednesday, etc. ) Fundraisers and benefits for non-profit organizations usually receive preferential treatment from news media, so make sure you mention this if it’s applicable.

Sometimes a volunteer group will help craftsmen bring in their displays. While this is not necessary, craftsmen and artists work long hours and appreciate amenities, such a preferential treatment in the refreshment line with an exhibitor’s badge.

Even though you have your own food booth, you may want to accept vendors of “Specialty Foods”. Specialty foods are not usually eaten on-site. They may be jams, jellies, herbal sauces, gourmet candies/chocolates, salad dressings. These do not detract from food-vendor sales; they are a different category. Screen to make sure the products will complement your food sales, not compete with them.

I hope you find these ideas useful. As always, we are enthusiastic partners in this industry. Please contact us with your feedback and ideas:

Craft ShowYellow Pages
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Betty Chypre writes for craft industry magazines and publications. Her articles have been published and used in Arts Council and Guild workshops from New Orleans, LA to Oswego, NY and across the nation. As editor/publisher of Art & Craft Show Yellow Pages Betty teaches workshops for beginning craftsmen and artists, and Marketing for Micro-Businesses.

A 21-year member and former vice president of the Hudson Valley Artisans Guild, she wrote articles for and edited the Guild Newsletter for more than seven years. As a production silversmith she sold her work at craft shows and writes about her experiences on both sides of the display table.