It occurred to me that it would be sensible to write this down - if only for my own sake next time as a reminder list, but others might find it useful too! Plus the Virgo in me just loves lists! Can never have enough lists, and this headset has come in extremely useful in collating people's information.
These are just some basic tips, may work for you or may not because everyone works slightly differently, and the scale of the event will dictate your timeline and formality required. A village hall event will not require the scale of health and safety that the NEC would demand for example. However, the principles are the same regardless of event:
learn the art of gentle delegation
too many cooks etc - make sure you know who's doing what to avoid duplication and looking foolish
have realistic deadlines and stick to them - if you need flyers out by the 10th, stick to it
have fun - you meet some fantastic new people along the way and everyone brings something new so share ideas
1. get a venue
2. get stall holders
4. confirm your stall holders and get payment
5. advertise again
6. chase up the stragglers
7. have a fabulous day
8. take feedback from customers and stall holders for next time
9. cup of tea
10. start all over again!
Given past experience of a 'I'd love to come along' does not always translate into hard cash and an actual stall holder, we did everything via email. I love facebook, it's great for getting general information out but given that we're fairly new to all this I was a little nervous of just counting the 'likes' on a page.
Another reason for email is that we sent quite detailed booking forms out - asking for phone numbers, photos of your work, do you want wall space to hang art? do you have to have a food hygiene certificate if you sell cakes? Would you want to book a space at a handmade event where over half sell the same thing, or worse there are more re-sellers than handmade? We wouldn't, and didn't want to do that to others.
Lists! you will save yourself hours later if you keep track of who you've invited, who's responded and their contact details. You will always have that one person running late and far easier to have their number to hand than panicking. And on the subject of phone numbers - write them down! Personally I keep everything in one folder that anyone can find things or someone can find it for you, you just know your phone battery will die at that critical point.
Floorplan - again, far far easier to print them off and leave around the venue for everyone to see rather than you getting caught up in every conversation, hence the comment about gentle delegation. Everyone can point out a map so why keep it in your head?
Advertising - this will depend largely on your event, the intended customer base and where you are. Also, depends on your advertising budget (you lucky thing if you have one). Ask all stall holders to make use of their contacts to advertise. We ran a poster competition offering a free stall to the winner and then sent them out to everyone so they all looked the same.
If you're lucky enough to have local radio - use it, they love this sort of thing, as do local press - just make sure you've decided who's contacting them to avoid 5 of you doing the same thing.
Chances are if you organise yourself from the outset and be realistic about what you intend to get from the day it will be fantastic. If you want to be the local event then get local crafters, if you want to be just weddings only invite wedding related exhibitors. It's easy to get caught up in the 'argh we need 5 more' but are they the right 5 for you? Far better to spread out a bit and have the right stall holders, customers will trust you next time and return. Also, stall holders talk to each other so will know that you stuck to your intention and spread the word. Nobody gets annoyed if you say sorry, it's a wedding venue and we only want wedding appropriate sellers. Sellers get more annoyed if you say, yes sure come along only to find that none of the customers are interested so don't be afraid of saying no.
Apologies for the glut of information, hopefully some will be useful to you!