Thursday, June 21, 2007

Drawing Pictures

Not all pictures are drawn with pen and paper. Sometimes the visual is created with words. For instance, who is your customer? Not an individual customer. But the typical customer for your work. This is something you should think about and review from time to time. By understanding who your customer is, you can make more intelligent decisions about the best shows for your work, how to promote your work, and help the stores and galleries who represent your work sell it better.

The best way to start filling out this picture is to start asking questions.

Are they young, middle-aged, or older?
Are they male or female?
Is the purchase more often made by an individual or a couple?
Are they buying for themselves or as a gift?
Where do they fit on the economic spectrum?
Are they urban, suburban or rural?
Are they hipsters or traditionalists?
What kinds of magazines do you think they read?
Do they surf the web?
Do they hate cellphones, the internet, and anything tech?
Nature lovers or modernists?

Get the idea? If, like me, you like to people watch, this kind of task can be fun. It is people watching in reverse, sort of. Instead of watching people go by and creating the back story for them, you are building the person from their story first.

What if you have absolutely no idea? Well, it is time to start paying attention. Who is getting excited about your work? Ask them questions. Being chatty with customers or the visitors to your booth can be a great way to gain insight into who your buyers are. As you package a purchase, or process the sale, you can be learning little bits of information about this person and why they are buying from you. Not the inquisition, just some simple open ended questions that might get them talking about themselves and why they are buying your work.

For instance, do they usually come to this show? Is this purchase a gift? You could notice any jewelry they might already be wearing if you sell jewelry. I remember a show I did about two years ago, and there were a lot of people who liked my work who happened to be wearing jewelry made by Lauren Pollano. I happen to be a fan of her work, so I recognized it immediately. I have come to know when someone comes into my booth wearing some sort of "art jewelry" they are a better candidate for a purchase than someone wearing more traditional jewelry. Even if you do not sell jewelry, the jewelry someone is wearing may tell you a lot about that person's style and taste.

These conversations will also reveal what it is about your work that people are responding to. This can help hone your story of your work. Rather than the story from the point of view of the creator, it is the story from the point of view of the observer. Which point of view do you think is more effective for selling your work?

Selling and promoting your work effectively means sometimes you need to take on the role of a detective or journalist. Dispassionately observing and noting. Taking in the information and processing it so that you can draw a picture. The picture of your customer. How much detail can you sketch out?


Anonymous said...

Great advice as always. Thanks for sharing.

Judy said...

Thanks for the comment Frivolitea. It is kind of a fun "game" to play. And it really can help to make many decisions about how to best reach your customer.