Craft Shows

How to Rock a Craft Show: The Art of Personality Mirroring

Why You Should Care About Mirroring

Craft shows are a big deal to the average crafter.  It’s a brief chance to share our designs with the world.  After 6 years of doing craft shows, I know I have about 3 minutes from the time a customer sees my products until they make a purchase.  In a normal sales cycle, a 3 minute closing time is insane!

When you only have a few critical seconds to make a first impression (and ultimately a sale), what do you do?

In the same way you aren’t friends with everyone you meet, you won’t instantly “click” with all your customers.  Because of this, your motto at craft shows should be: “Don’t be yourself”.

Let me explain.  I’m not telling you to hide your true self, I’m just suggesting you show people the you they want to see.  The you they can relate to.

At any given show, you’re going to interact with hundreds of different people from different walks of life with different personalities.  Key word: different.  Differences are great – they’re what make us human – but at craft shows, your goal should be to eliminate as many differences between you and your customers as you can.

This technique of meeting someone where they are is what I called personality mirroring.  It’s a surefire way to rock a craft show. If you’re not familiar with this concept, start taking notes because it’s important.

Personality mirroring, as the name suggests, is when you act in a similar manner to your customers in order to form instant rapport.  It’s being a mirror of their personality.

Example of Personality Mirroring

To illustrate this point, let’s use an example.  Suppose Laura is an outgoing crafter who is loud, creative, and proud of her work.  She prefers to engage with customers as soon as they come in her booth.  She feels like it’s her duty to share the story of how she creates each of her pieces.

Hannah is her potential customer.  She’s introverted and uncomfortable in large crowds.  When she sees Laura’s booth, she timidly enters and doesn’t make eye contact as she begins to look at the products, hands clasped tightly behind her back.

What should Laura do?

Shouting out a loud, “Hi!  How are you?  Is there anything I can help you with?  Who are you looking to buy for?  Are you enjoying the show?  I love the weather we’re having!” will have Hannah running out of her booth faster than she could say, “psycho crazy-crafter woman”.  Do you see how Laura’s approach doesn’t match Hannah’s personality?

Instead, Laura should have noticed Hannah’s body language when she first came into the booth.  The eyes down, the hands clasped behind her back.  Clearly, Hannah is an introvert who doesn’t want to be bothered while shopping.  Upon identifying Hannah’s more reserved personality, Laura should have instead offered a smile and a small, “Hello,” to acknowledge Hannah without making her feel harassed.

Becoming a Mirror-er

Take a few seconds when you first see a customer and size them up.  Do they have a loud or quiet personality?  Do they want to browse or chat?  Do they look like they want to talk to you?

Now, let’s flip the tables. It’s just as bad if you’re a quiet-crafter and don’t know what to do when you encounter an outgoing customer.

Maybe you’re a sensitive crafter who’s not your typical people-person.  You create, you craft, and think people should appreciate that.  A group of women come into your booth.  They’re laughing and joking and having a good time.

They strike up a conversation: “You made these?!  Incredible!  I love them!”

Your response:  “Thanks,” and go back to folding your bags.

WRONG!  WRONG! WRONG!  Can’t you just hear the excitement of the ladies?  They want to know more – tell them!

A better response: “Yes, I did.  Thank you! I learned to crochet when I was 8 and love playing around with different yarn and styles.  It’s just so fun! Which hats do you like?”

By matching their up-beat personality, you’ve opened up the dialogue and are one step closer to making a sale.

Trying it!

Sounds simple, right, but most people don’t do it.  I’ve seen crafters lose out on big sales because they weren’t comfortable interacting with a particular type of customer.  It’s time to hide your quiet self or tone down the volume when you’re a seller and play the “everyone’s my friend” game.

If personality mirroring sounds too intimidating to try at a craft fair, practice on some friends.  Don’t get along with your loud coworker?  Try being equally as loud and watch the chemistry.  If you have a softer-talking friend, instead of shouting at them, the next time you call them use a slow, calm voice.  Matching someone’s personality doesn’t just work at craft shows.  Adjusting how you interact with people makes them feel more at ease.  People love themselves and are comfortable talking, interacting, and being around people who are most like them.

If you can mirror a customer’s personality to the point where you make her feel like she’s talking with herself then congratulations, you’ve mastered the art of personality mirroring and are on your way to mastering craft shows!  Use this simple trick and watch the results that follow.

Have you ever used personality mirroring?  What were your experiences – both positive and negative?

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