Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Vendors at One of a Kind Craft Show may benefit from a social media 101

I went to the One of a Kind Spring Show and Sale on Sunday for the first time in years.

As expected, lots had changed – newish venue – the Direct Energy Centre is a terrific spot with lots of room for people to move around. Exhibitors have enough room to really strut their stuff. I liked the smaller kiosks featuring first-time exhibitors too.

There was the usual – jewelry, home decor, photography, paintings, accessories, clothing and food and the unusual – decorative bowls made out of real fruits and vegetables (can you see the carrot slices above?). I liked the focus on green and sustainable items too. There were lots of things – especially jewelry that were neither one-of-a-kind nor original.

Two things surprised me:
Some vendors weren’t taking advantage of e-commerce and selling online. It’s a no-brainer to set up an Etsy shop.
Many vendors didn’t like having pictures taken of their kiosk or creations

As for the latter, I can understand their concerns about being knocked off (see my earlier comment about the lack of originality). Some artists showed a distrust of prospective customers and/or fans. They wanted control of how their works would be photographed and shared. I tested the waters a bit. I took some photos without asking, some photos with asking, explained why I wanted to take photos and even offered to delete a photo – fortunately, no one demanded I delete any images. FYI, show organizers create displays throughout the venue and no one balks when pictures are taken.

Control isn’t just about the written message but about the visual one as well. One vendor/artist handed me his card and told me to use the images on the website – he wanted to have full control of any imagery of his work.

Unfortunately, these artists have no idea of the power of online word of mouth and how people will celebrate and share their work online. They didn’t seem to understand or care that I was helping them market their businesses. (For the record, I usually don’t use the fact that I blog to push my weight around. Domistyle Inc. was more than happy to accommodate my photo snapping. They were familiar with Bargainista too and found a new fan. Aren’t their aprons the cutest?)

One suggestion I have for the One of a Kind organizers next fall is to help educate the exhibitors teach them the power organic, online marketing and social networking has in driving awareness and sales.

As for retail stores, it used to be you couldn’t take any pictures inside. These days, retailers are softening up although I often ask for permission when inside since they own/lease the property. I don’t pay to be there so I feel the need to be respectful.

When at the One of a Kind or another show where I’m paying to attend, the vendors are being giving access to potential customers who otherwise would never see their skills and craftsmanship, I feel I have more of a right to create a journal (text or photo) of my experience.

What do you think? Are bloggers and/or other online content creators wrong to think they can photograph when the inspiration strikes? Do we need to ask permission first? Am I missing the mark and should I be asking permission before taking any photos?

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  1. I usually ask, more to strike up a conversation about my website so that they are aware I am preparing a store review.

    I have only been asked once to not take any pictures.

    If the store is busy I don't ask because I don't want to take the sales person away from customers. I usually get weird looks but no one says anything.

    I have had nothing but positive response in the long run about doing these store reviews and have been able to gain some interest in advertising as a result.

    That said I do get the feeling that many retailers still don't fully grasp the power of blogging, social media & online advertising even if they have a small presence of their own.

    Just imagine what having hundreds if not thousands of new people daily getting exposed to your shop. That is HUGE!

  2. Totally agree that those sellers should get on the bandwagon and open little shops, especially when Etsy is so perfect for smaller companies. It baffles me.

    As both an artist, shopper, and blogger I can relate to both sides of this discussion on photos.

    Let me start off by saying that I always ask if I can take a picture of someones work, because I feel like it's good manners. Artists at the one of a Kind Show consider their work personal, and are likley protective. :)

    With regards to photo taking at "trade shows", the majority of people aren't like us, taking pictures for visual reference, to put on our blogs to do posts about, which I do regularily.

    Although social media is the norm to you and I, and people who read blogs, the majority of people who snap photos aren't doing it for the greater good/fun of blogging. Having worked behind a booth at tradeshows, I can tell you that 90% of people taking photos of work would say "I can do this myself" Take a photo and move on. I would shrug, as it's an open market and people can either take a photo of my work and copy it from their camera, of visit my website and copy it from there. It was the people that approached me and asked if they could take a photo that I would love, because it showed respect for me, and my work.

    In stores, having worked retail as well, I know that the concern with photo taking was competing stores coming into the store and taking photos of merchandising/products, to steal ideas and implement (and buy the same products) for their store. So a staff member may be told by the "management" to gently ask that no photos be taken. But if you saw a product you wanted to blog about, a staff would likely see no issue in taking a photo of a "specific" product.

    Having said all this, I usually take photos in stores for my blog(s) but I always ask first if I can. It eases the minds of the stores, the shop keepers etc.

    I thought I would just give my 2 cents from the opposite end of things being an artist myself! :)

  3. Anonymous4:57 pm

    Regarding photo taking at shows.

    Please be kind to the artists, we all stuggle to have original items for sale and when we developed a process or idea into an item for sales we are protective. Please understand that in the global market an item can be photographed and emailed by cellphone to be copied in the thousands without the artists knowledge. Just ask the artist for premission and be ready to be told no.

  4. thanks for the advices and the information about this crafts, I gonna tell my wife about this, she love to wear this kind of crat.


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