Art Fair Show Tips: Making Sales After the Show

by Carolyn Edlund

Fairs and festivals are often the initial contact point with potential collectors. Here’s how to keep communication flowing and sales happening after the show is over.


Art and Craft Show in California


As a show exhibitor, you are in a perfect position to meet many potential collectors, and close sales at the event. But sales don’t always happen the first time a shopper enters your booth. In fact, most sales don’t close on first contact, period. Don’t let those interested people slip through your fingers and walk away forever. Consider in-person meetings at a show to be the beginning of a longer sales cycle, resulting in future transactions.

When you have a truly interested prospect, you know it. They say the right things and their body language indicates that they are serious. You’ve begun the process of introducing them to your work and can see their response. But more needs to be done to get them to the point of becoming a customer.

Turn a warm lead into a hot prospect

During conversations at the show, be proactive with prospects who are interested in a particular piece of art. Take a photo of the art with your cell phone and offer to email it to them with your contact information, price, website link and other information as a reminder of their interest.

That initial discussion gives you a reason to capitalize on their excitement and send an email or make a phone call in the days after the show to see if they are ready to move forward. Then, act accordingly. The customer might need to see the artwork in their own space to feel confident. They might need to speak with their spouse about a large purchase. Or, they may benefit from another conversation with you that is focused on their needs alone. You could arrange to visit their home with some art, invite them to your studio for a personal appointment, or offer to ship the art to them if they are not local.

Gather your list

Many fairgoers aren’t planning a purchase; they are just walking the show for enjoyment. Along the way, there will be a lot of visual art for them to process. Turn those lookers into subscribers once they have found your booth, by inviting them to sign up for your mailing list. Have a guestbook handy to capture their name and email, and possibly their street address too. Let them know you never sell your list (because you don’t, right?) and will only reach out occasionally to share news, updates, and more of your exciting work.

Then, communicate with your list, even if it’s small. Send monthly email marketing campaigns. Mail postcards and invitations for your next art walk, open studio or exhibition. Use gorgeous images of your work to bring art into their lives. People love art, and they enjoy knowing artists. A postcard is often saved and acts as a reminder of your work. And quite often, they will make a point to attend your next show where you can reconnect and court them as your newest collectors.

Issue “Calls to Action”

When you reach out to the list you’ve built, ask them to do something. Do you want them to attend a live event? Give them all the information they need and perhaps an incentive, like an invitation to a special cocktail preview before your studio sale opens to the public. Would you like them to view your website? Share your link prominently and let them know you’ve just added a new release of art for them to see. Are you looking for them to follow you on social media? Make it easy, with a link or icon to click.

Don’t give up

Have you ever made a sale to a someone who has been following your work for years? That can happen. Persistence is essential to cultivating long-term prospects who love what you do but are not at the time of need right now. Even if they never buy from you, they can be helpful by telling others about your art and sharing your social media posts. They may even become a friend.


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