At my last show, I made an effort to give some small freebie to every child that passed my table. It didn't always work, but a good percentage of the time, the child would drag his or her parent closer to the table and viola! A new sale.
For the show, I primarily used stickers, business cards, and Halloween spider rings as my give-aways. So, overall, the effort didn't cost too much. I've also been sending the left-over goodies out with my online orders as a thank you. But lately, I've been wondering what other fun and low-cost goodies I could add to my repertoire, so I asked the talented folks on the Etsy PlushTeam to weigh in with their favorite craft show goodies and lessons learned. Here's what I found out...
Question 1: What kinds of freebies do you hand out?
Almost everyone agreed that business cards are amongst the most popular hand-outs, although the staying power of a business card is limited. Felicia, of Fluffy Flowers commented, "I didn't want to just give folks a business card because like a lot of y'all I either put it away or toss it. The trick," she said, "is to come up with something that is handmade but that can be quickly and inexpensively mass-produced by a one-owner business."
Others in the group chimed in that they prefer to offer book marks, magnets, erasers, little toys, stickers, post cards, buttons, and note pads in addition to business cards. Some, like Felicia, prefer to make their own goodies but others offered great sources to buy promotional items. Denise, from Yummy Pancake recommends The Oriental Trading Company and your local dollar stores. A quick search of the site turned up plenty of low-cost goodies, including this gross (144 pieces) of mini smile face heart erasers for only $3.99. For those of you who are math-impaired like me, the cost per eraser is about 3 cents.
Emily, of Follow the White Rabbit, recommends using other Etsy sellers for promotional items. Her favorite, Kitty Crossbones, offers a variety of promotional items, customized with your logo. Abby, of AbbyDid, has used bookmarks from Space Dog Studios customized with her shop logo.
Question 2: If you make your own freebies, what sorts of materials and techniques do you use?
Felicia, from Fluffy Flowers makes and gives away book marks. In her Etsy thread on marketing for shy people, Felicia says "I made gobs of small bookmarks. I printed eight to a page on card stock from an office supply store. They have a cute picture of one of my creatures and my shop address. I cut them out then punched a hole in the top and attached a ribbon."
Felicia also recommended this clever tutorial on how to make your own promotional magnets by SoSheSews.
For my part, I have tried making stickers and magnets using Avery stock. I have a background in document design and desktop publishing but you don't have to be a whiz to use Avery's free templates or free Design Pro software.
Question 3: Any lessons learned about freebies?
The most common advice I received for this question was "don't spend too much on your freebies and give-aways" and "don't make things that are time-consuming." Felicia of fluffy Flowers shares her experience saying, "when I first started up my shop I made little mice with long tails that I'd give away with all my orders. As my business grew I learned lots of important things like time investment and profit. I realized that I was spending way too much time on these little giveaways so I stopped making them and brainstormed about what I could make."
Both Abby of AbbyDid and Casie of BeBe Babies and Friends use sliding scales to determine what kinds of freebies will go with an order. Casie usually includes freebies that reflect the value of the order, while Abby also recognizes return customers. Says Abby, "Return customers get all sorts of fun stuff, and sometimes I'll try out a new, little creation on them. I've covered buttons in fur and glued eyes on them, then made them into magnets or key chains. I usually put a "snack" in a Wibbly Woo's mouth when he goes - fleece cookies, and those become gingerbread men at Christmas and hearts at Valentine's day."
When it comes to giving away goodies at shows, Felicia from Fluffy Flowers recommends "keep[ing] a lot of postcards and business cards on my table for folks to take. Any other fun freebies like the erasers and toys, I keep behind the table and stick in customers' bags."
For my fellow crafters out there, I would love to hear if you have any great ideas on freebies that weren't covered in this article. And, from my fellow shoppers, I would love to hear what your favorite freebies are. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or add a comment to this post!
I'd like to thank the following members of the Etsy PlushTeam for their help with this article: