Monday, August 1, 2011

You are responsible for your own success

There are times I do not understand how other people run their businesses. Saturday was one of those days. I probably should not be surprised by that fact.

Saturday, I was helping my wife at one of the local Denver craftshows.

Now, my day started off with a screaming migraine. So I will admit that after helping set up the booth, I sneaked off and took a nap (in the hot car---it was either do that or pass out in the back of the booth---I thought that the car would be a better business decision, at least appearance-wise). In my defense, I would like to state that it is my wife's business, and she was present---I was merely a glorified pack-mule (unpaid employee) the day of the show.

But when I came back, I helped. In other words, I sat in the booth and said hello to everyone that walked by the front of the booth. It is something that I learned to do when running a restaurant in a food court. The goal is to get them to look at your place of business.

My wife did her tour of the other booths. When she returned, I did my lap around the craftshow. In my case, I was fishing for information. Professional hazard, I am afraid; my true profession is generally nosy. Even when we have no vested interest at all in the subject of study.

In the case of several vendors, I was surprised that they were merely sitting in the back of their booths, and not saying hi to anyone. Often the state of the handmade craft product in question matched the care that the customer was greeted with.

The general impression I got was that several of the vendors were of the impression that it was not worth their effort. Call it a dissatisfaction with the venue. Now, I will admit that I would have liked to see more foot traffic. At the beginning of the show, I guessed that this was the first show. I was wrong. It was the second show...except that the first one had been forced into one of the buildings because of the weather---that sorta makes my guess right, doesn't it?

But to treat the few people that did walk though the craftshow in such a manner was...quite honestly, the business manager in me was appalled.

I was even more appalled at the end of the show. Now, I do not mean to easedrop...well, I am a writer and a comedic blogger...hey, it is not wrong to easedrop when it is part of the nature of your profession to easedrop. *sticks out tongue*

Several vendors were upset. Annoyed that enourgh advertising hadn't been done. Annoyed that we were competiting with another event (don't all craftshows happen the same day as other events?). Generally annoyed.

But here is the part where I do not understand their business plan. Turns out a couple of the complainers did not do any advertising of their own. Say what?!

I will admit that my own advertising of the event was not the world's best, but at least me and my wife made an effort. Flawed advertising still is better than no advertising at all. And the only person that you can be sure is going to advertise your business warmly is yourself.

But these people would rather place the blame solely on the event's organizer. I am sorry; but if you do not advertise your own business, you have to assume some of the blame for your failure.

Now, I am quite sure that these merchants would insist that I am wrong about this. After all, I am just a freelance writer, artist, photographer, and someone who spent ten years running a restaurant---I don't know anything about running their type of business. After all, writers have agents and publishing houses backing their moves---if only that was true even in the good old days. And artists and photographers are never good at running businesses---tell that to the professional photographer who is using the show to advertise her regular bread and butter work. And restaurant management does not translate into being able to sell crafts---hmmm, yeah, selling many little items to make the overhead for the day is nothing like what happens at the craftshows. (Did I miss any objectations to me having an opinion?)

I am sorry. Just because you paid a fee to be at a show does not mean that you are not responsible for your own advertising. If it is the typical show, a lot of the money collected is going towards renting the space that the show is taking place in. In fact, there may not be any money left over with the newer and cheaper craftshows.

The sad truth is that you are responsible for doing what is necessary to make your business successful. And when you have a bad business day, you must assume part of the blame...especially if you did nothing to get the attention of potential customers.

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