From the Administrative Manager – Annabel Peckham
A big welcome to our first online newsletter Shop To Give. All the previous ones have been hard copy and posted out to all the membership. This means that is available for our very valued website visitors to see and read, whereas before it was just restricted to our membership. One of the main benefits is reaching a wider audience and the raising the numbers who view the adverts and click on the logos that our members have placed. It also means that there are clicks straight through to the advertisers’ (both fair organisers’ and stallholders’) websites. Thus stallholders’ potential new customers can have easy access to finding out what enticing new products they sell. Fair organisers’ adverts will also have a link to their websites, hopefully showing instantly which stallholders will be at their fair, which charity they support and any other interesting info. Hopefully too, it will generate more views/visits to the website with a whole load of words used that potential visitors may put into their Google searches. This in turn could help to move the CFA website up the list on that all-important Google search.
THE NEW LOOK CFA WEBSITE
In last year’s Administrative Managers report I talked about the new website. This went live in Dec 18. As I explained last year we wanted to make it much less wordy, concentrating with photos (on the basis of ‘a picture paints a thousand words’) around the membership. It is critical for us to put the message across that we are not fairs full of charity shops, as many thought before they entered the CFA marquee at the County Shows, but soon realised otherwise. It was important to emphasise the individual, professional, non-mass-produced nature of our stallholders’ products. It was also vital to bring out the individuality of our fairs, the benefits of going to them given the gloom of the high streets and the experience of actually being able to ‘touch, feel and try’ products and talk to our knowledgeable sellers which you cannot do on line. We have also tried to emphasise the charity element of the fair and the importance of them raising money for their chosen causes. The membership were fantastic at sending in photos, news etc and I feel that we have achieved the aim. There have been many compliments and the enquiries keep coming!
TIDWORTH POLO EVENTS
One of the new projects for 2019 was running the stalls at two polo events at Tidworth Polo Club – Heroes Day and the Rundle Cup. Again the aim of the project was to provide selling opportunities for our stallholders and PR/recognition for the CFA. It was a much less expensive project that the County Shows the previous year and much more manageable as it was run in house from CFA HQ. The aim was achieved in that nearly 40 stallholders took part. The CFA stall became a hub for chat from passing shoppers who were told about the CFA, asked to give their email addresses if they wanted to go on the CFA mailing list and handed a CFA bag. Apart from supporting a large CFA logo the bag contained a new look CFA flyer, sweeties and the obligatory dog gravy bones! There were some very encouraging comments from the punters about what an improvement the stalls were on previous years and what a great range of products. It was an excellent platform from which to showcase our Christmas Fairs and both the CFA stall and the stallholders handed out fliers for some of the CFA Christmas Fairs. Christina Tomlinson (Armadillo Jewellery) has very kindly written an article on her day at the Rundle Cup.
CFA MAILING LIST
Leading on from the polo events is an update on the CFA mailing list. I personally went and collected email addresses for four of our member fairs last year. I collected email addresses for each of the fairs’ mailing list and for the CFA mailing list. I am extremely grateful to the fairs who invited me to do this and understood the quid pro quo arrangement. We have also been collecting email addresses from our new online subscription page on the website and we have people subscribing! The first email to this mailing list went out in Spring 19 informing everyone of our summer fairs. I had quite a few enquiries as a result of that and even a new stallholder join! Anyone who signs up goes into the £25 cash draw at every committee meeting.
SOCIAL MEDIA TRAINING
This year we have concentrated our workshops/seminars on individuals or small groups having social media training. The larger seminars at lovely venues were proving expensive and we were not covering the costs. I have been doing individual social media sessions with members at CFA HQ or at a location of their choice. It has been very interesting working with these people and understanding how everyone has different requirements. This illustrates how difficult it is to put together a ‘one size fits all workshop’ and these ‘bespoke’ sessions seem to be proving very worthwhile judging by the very grateful comments I have had. We ran one ‘Social Media Bespoke Meeting’. This is for up to eight members and each one states what they would like to concentrate on and this forms the agenda. Katherine Wilford (assistant administrator) has very kindly written an article about the meeting. More are planned and details will be sent out shortly.
Unfortunately, we are having to move on from our current stallholder insurance provider. I have talked to many different insurers about our memberships needs and many of them never phone me back! We are a very diverse group and one cover no longer fits all! At the time of writing this I have found a very comprehensive insurer who seems to understand our needs very well. Fingers crossed his company will provide our insurance and I will email everyone about this as soon as it is confirmed. This company should provide a more exacting cover for our stallholders and should also be able to offer legal and stock insurance, which I know a lot of our stallholders are keen to have. They are also saying they will offer event insurance for our fairs. This is a real positive as our current insurers have not been able to offer event insurance for some time.
2020 CFA AGM/CONFERENCE
The planning for the 2020 AGM/Conference has started already. It is THURSDAY, 23 JANUARY, at the same venue – Phyllis Court. Having it later means that once everyone has got back to normal in the first week of January, there is still just about time to finish collecting the information for the Fairs List and Stallholders Directory and get it printed in time. This should mean less ‘new additions’ and ‘late entries’ and therefore less confusion. It is a manic time for the admin team and those extra days should make a big difference. There will also be a change to the afternoon session in that we have added something for the new stallholders in the gallery. They have often mentioned they feel the afternoon is unproductive because most fair organisers have gone home, apart from the ones doing the speed presentations. We have therefore arranged a session to help their stall presentation and selling techniques. There will be a secret shopper in the morning looking at their stall and she/he will present the findings in the afternoon. The area where lunch is served will be partitioned off for this presentation.
I hope that you enjoy this new look Shop To Give and I look forward to seeing you at the fairs and the conference. I hope that you all have a great selling season and that all your fairs run smoothly and profitably!