• Selling Arts and Crafts Part 3 Make creative choices!

    As an artist you are very creative by nature, but that doesn’t mean you are a creative business person.

    The first thing to determine for a successful business is that you will never ever borrow money for your art business. Also, don’t worry about getting grants or find financing. Ignore the credit card applications that come in the mail as soon as you open a business. If you are good at what you are doing, your customer, not your creditors,  comes to you and will pay your way. Save your money until you have enough to live on for 3 months. Then you start with little financial steps. The reason for this is: It totally stifles your creativity, if you have financial concerns breathing down your neck and you are caught in a catch 22.

    While you are saving contemplate:

    Who is your ideal customer? Male, female, child, elderly, baby Boomer, generic consumer, ……

    Where is your target market? Internet, shopping mall, craft show, traveling circus, retail store, wholesale…..

    HOW does your customer live? Penthouse, country home, inner city, county, mansion………

    How does your audience feel? Comfortable, stylish, modern, cozy, cuddly, daring……..

    How do you want to be perceived by your customers? Generous, progressive, up to date, shy, talented, professional,………….

    What characteristics does your target market have? Popular, quaint, old fashioned, modern, abstract, ……..

    What sets you apart from your competition? Innovation, price, style, precision, quality,……….. ( My cousin in Germany has much revenue with his paintings from being NON Artsy= whatever that means to people)

    After you answered all those questions NOW you can make a list of what kind of products you want to create, because you have to show up with the right product at the correct market at the right time.

    Having done exhibits for years and observed what sells I can tell you this: You can have the most superior merchandise, if you are not at the right place at the right time, you will not sell. You WILL sell, if you did your homework, researched your market and offer product that people expect, when they come to the events.

    The environment is very important: May it be a retail store, a craft show or a mall cart. Be sure your environment matches your product. If you sell something small like jewelry have large exquisite, enlarged photographs of your product in place, so passerby sees the item immediately and takes a closer look. People will not squint to see what you have in that pretty velvet case.
    If you sell something practical, like potholders or hats, have a display SHOWING how practical it is. Try to make your display humorous, if at all possible. People like to have fun at all times.

    Make your customers a unique offer that is rare, limited and not easy to obtain, such as, if you buy this, you can get that for 1/2 price. Or show special. Or if you buy the big  one, I will custom make you the little one to match.

    Packaging is important:  Make it special. In a craft show use clear plastic, so others can see your customers walk around with your merchandise. Yes, you want to show what was bought and not hide it in a paper bag. It is a magnet to your booth. Your customers get stopped as people ask: ” Where did you get that?” Don’t forget to enclose your business card or greetings with a special offer for the future. May be you want to enclose a self addressed post card, where your customer can mail your feedback – that especially works if you have a country or old fashion kind of business. Make sure there is a place where they can enter their e-mail address.

    Advertising is a long subject that I will discuss another time at length.  For right now, I just recommend that you scrutinize your advertising for effectiveness every day. Once you have decided the route to advertise: media, flyers, radio ad, TV, Facebook ads…….. Make sure you have  budget running for at least 1 month, since you cannot decide on a short term basis how effective it is. However, if you have advertised a certain way and you have poor results in the first 3 weeks, do not expect it to turn around and obligate yourself another month and be sure that you have not any automatic billing involved, like the internet advertisers like Google Ad, Face book act like to do.
    The reason for long term advertising strategy is: some people only shop on the weekend, some only when it is raining, others shop only  holiday specials, some, of course shop all the time and others only when they cannot resist the offer. Customers are often fickle and the weather, the mood and the occasion are influencing their buying. Hence, they will only see your ad on occasion. Advertising works best, when done repeatedly, yet not enough to get on people’s nerves. Ads have to be catching  and enticing, not same old same old. Think how you can challenge your potential customers happiness when you advertise.
    Try to get as much free advertising as possible. In internet marketing I have found the best advertising is networking, because none of the big self pronounced “Internet Greats”, such as Google Ad, Face book and even Etsy Featured are very successful for sales results from what I have heard ( I only have experience with Google ads and was very disappointed)

    Please realize every market is different and it takes  a while to feel your way around. Experience is really what everybody needs and sad to say that comes with trial and error. Nobody can really do it for you. Even though my husband and I made a living for many years with our art in exhibits, craft shows, wholesale shows, home improvement and garden shows, I am new to internet marketing and it is a whole different ball game. Yet I already discovered the old sales principle holds very true: Your sales will be 2 % of the exposure= if 100 people see your product 2 of them will buy and the rest will pass you by. You can figure out your exposure by knowing the craft show/ exhibit attendance. In a shopping mall you can figure out how many parking places are occupied at a given time. Christmas is easy- the entire parking lot is full. All you have to ask, how many parking places are at that mall. Internet sales:  your Google analytics will give you a clue how many people view your page/shop.

    And having said that: If you do NOT have the desired amount of sales in that 100/ 2 ratio, please CHANGE something. May it be the wording of describing your product, make it in a different color, recalculate your target customer’s preferences or the market you are selling in. Be honest with yourself about your sales goals: By that I mean do not dream about the big $$$ BEFORE you have a stable market. A “stable market” is: Figure out ONE item/ brand/product that is worth sticking with, because it has the resonance/ response of the crowd. There is no sense in making soup to nuts to beads to photography and offer all those things. Or to make what you think is awesome and you can’t sell, since nobody else thinks it is cool. I have that problem a lot, since I am usually way before my time with my “inventions”. When people were still wearing scarfs I made cowls. I could NOBODY to warm up to them. I was painting birds on things years ago, but NOPE, everybody wanted to buy hand-painted roses on things.

    Here you find more tips:

    http://patternstriedandtrue.org/selling-your-arts-and-crafts-part-1-getting-started

    http://patternstriedandtrue.org/art-business-part-2-6-pointers

    http://patternstriedandtrue.org/selling-arts-and-crafts-part-4-what-to-ask-the-promoter

    http://patternstriedandtrue.org/selling-arts-and-crafts-5-merchandising

    Hopes this helps some for you to have some awesome sales with your art work.

    Please leave your insights and comments. I would LOVE to know what you think.