How being generous can help you sell more crafts over the holidays (or How you can get others to happily do your marketing for you)
Are you wondering how you are going to find time to market your craft over the holidays? A lot of people let their marketing fall by the way-side between Thanksgiving and New Years but this can lead to slow sales in January and February.
One of the best methods to sell more craft is to make sure it’s seen at holiday parties.
If you have friends or family who host holiday parties in their home or office, ask them if they would like to borrow some of your art for the party. Whether it’s wall art, table-top or wearable, your work will be seen by lots of new potential customers. Just be sure your friend has cards with your contact info handy to give to anyone who admires your work.
Obviously, if your make jewelry or wearable art, you should wear it every single time you leave the house, even to run to the grocery store. And always have cards with your contact info in your pocket. But especially over the holidays, you can get other people to be your billboards as well. My employees and friends always knew they could borrow a piece of handmade jewelry, a scarf or other wearable art to attend special luncheons or parties. The only requirement was that they keep my cards in their handbag and anytime someone complimented the piece, they told them who made it and where they could purchase one or something similar. It’s not imposing. They’ll love wearing and talking about your work. It’s often a good ice-breaker at cocktail parties.
If any of your friends work in a place where they see lots of people every day, they can be a great source of marketing for you just by wearing what you make and telling anyone who admires it how they can contact you.
Don’t over-look how many women are shopping for the perfect outfit to wear to the holiday parties. They will need accessories as well so it’s a great idea to approach some upscale boutiques and ask them to display your work with their dresses. If they don’t already sell jewelry or whatever accessories your make, they can up their average ticket by showing the customer a piece of yours to match the outfit. They have nothing to lose if you do it on consignment. And you have everything to gain.
For more tips on how to sell more crafts for the holidays, check out the Audio Class: “12 Easy Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month”. (and if you do all 12 things, your creative hobby could be a $14,000 a month biz. )
As a committed supporter of small business, I don’t frequent big box stores unless I can’t find what I need from an independent shop. On the rare occasion I do patronize discount houses, I am always disheartened (OK, sometimes I’m just plain angry) to see unlicensed knockoffs of hand made designs.
As an artist, making each piece by hand, how can you possibly compete with a copy of your own work made by children in China? Even if your designs are trademarked and copyrighted, you likely can’t afford the lost time or emotional reserves to fight these mass manufacturers. I’ve watched it happen to so many artists and I know it’s a struggle to stay ahead of the copy-cats.
So, what can you do about it? How can you differentiate your work from the inexpensive look-a-likes?
Well, the best way I know is to make sure that shoppers know the difference so that they appreciate the value of your work and understand why it commands a higher price tag. Otherwise, they are not going to pay $279. for a piece that looks just like what they’ve seen in the Target, Walmart or Macy’s. And the one element that makes your work worth paying more for is the YOUness. If your work doesn’t have a story, your customer can’t understand the value and there is no way they are going to pay more for something that looks just like the cheaper one.
Why your art needs a story
Now, more than ever, your art needs a story. Annette Simmons, author of The Story Factor, said “in today’s world almost anyone you want to influence is operating under a deficit of human attention.” They are drowning in facts, information and statistics. They need a story they can relate to. Most people don’t remember facts and figures. They do remember stories. As an artist, you need a story too.
If you’re showing your work at a juried craft show, chances are the attendees understand the value of your work. In that case, just being personable and explaining a bit about your process, inspiration, etc will help reinforce the old know-like-trust factor. They’ll be loyal fans because they know your face and like you. However, if you exhibit at an un-juried show, it’s likely that some vendors have slipped imports into the mix and you’ll have to work harder to make sure the customers know you.. Knowing your “story”, where you came from and how you got where you are now, adds that human element and makes your work worth the higher price.
If your art is represented in a gallery, you may assume that the clientele perceives it’s value. Don’t take it for granted.
For several years I owned a contemporary craft gallery in a quaint coastal village. I represented artists and craftspeople from all over the US and Canada. Now you would assume that with the upscale ambience and the word “gallery” in the name, customers would expect to pay more for items that are handcrafted. But I was surrounded by souvenir shops housed in cute victorians, carrying items embellished with the local town name. Some of these shops had mass-produced Chinese copies of the same handmade-in-the-US yard sculpture that we carried. They were priced a fraction of the hand-crafted piece. My neighbors put a 4X mark-up on these imported knock-offs while my handmade pieces were at keystone (double my cost.) So, why did customers buy from my gallery and how did I build a loyal following for the artists despite the challenges of knock-offs? I made sure that everyone who walked through the door was greeted with eye-contact and a smile and told that the items in the gallery were made by hand. When a visitor looked at each display, they were told the artists name, a personal “story-bite” and a brief description of the craft process. For example, we carried a line of hand made venetian glass jewelry. Several neighboring shops carried manufactured jewelry made with Chinese “murano” glass-not made on the island of Murano at all. But visitors to the my gallery were told the story of the artist, Jane, an American opera singer who went to Italy years ago to sing and fell in love with glass. Fluent in Italian from her opera training, she was able to befriend the Venetian crafts people, were invited into their studios and taught the craft of making beads. She then designs her own beads and goes over several times a year to design her seasonal lines. She brings her beads back to her Portland studio where she hand makes her jewelry. My clients purchased her work because they felt a human connection to the item which increased the perceived value and they became collectors because they remembered her story.
So how can you, as a artist, differentiate your work from the knock-offs? Your work needs the story of YOU. Every piece you display for sale should be accompanied by a photo of you and a personal bio. Not a resume bio but a human interest story. No one is going to buy your art because you have an MFA in ceramics or a certificate in gemology. Art is an emotional purchase and it’s your story that speaks to the buyer. They want to know about your family, your pets and what inspired your craft.
It’s the story of YOU that will sell your art and turn shoppers into collectors.
Is your bio a resume of facts or does it tell a memorable story of who you are and what you stand for?