Monday, July 16, 2007

So Many Lessons...

In my last post I had a list of things I was going to try to notice or play with at the Guilford show, and see what happened. And then I left you hanging! It has taken me a few days to recover from the show, and to get back in the groove again. But now it is time to report....

1. Mixing it up was a good idea. I had initially set up with my vessels in the front of the booth, and the jewelry on the back table. Cranes were in between. The displays were nice enough, but there was the risk that people may have been missing the jewelry all together as they wandered past my booth. So on Friday morning I shifted things around. I organized by color, and displayed jewelry and vessels together.

I don't know if it had anything to do with the change directly, but my sales the last two days were better than the first. The vessels got people to stop and look at my work. But the jewelry was what they were more likely to buy. Making sure that they saw some of the jewelry up front made it more likely they would come into the booth to see what else I had. And I think the mixed up displays were visually more interesting.

2. Wear your work, if you can. I had a few artists stop by my booth one morning because they saw my earrings and where curious to see more of my work. I sold two necklaces right off my daughter's neck! It is one thing to see the work displayed in a case, on a table, or a bust. It is another to see what it is like on a person. Be a walking advertisement for your work, if possible.

3. If someone seems to be interested in your work, be sure to share something about your work that may not be obvious but will often be critical to people buying the work. We have been trained from the time we were little to not touch. In general this is probably a good idea, but we often need to touch things before we will buy them. And there are somethings we cannot know just from looking.

Half my sales this weekend were with the new work. I think in part it was because when someone was seriously looking at the work I would hand them a pair of the earrings to hold. I wanted them to know how lightweight they were. You could see the surprise on their face. Any concerns about a piece being too big.....thus too heavy, were eliminated. Now they were deciding what to try on.

When people were looking at the cranes I might mention how I had some cranes packaged two together, and how this was because the cranes were a symbol of fidelity. I would add what great gifts they made for anniversaries, showers, etc. That the single cranes were terrific teacher or hostess gifts. You could often see the gears begin to turn as they mentally reviewed who they might need to buy such a gift, and they began moving boxes looking for just the right crane.

4. The other thing that has helped sales of the cranes is packaging. The clear cube boxes offer a terrific presentation of the crane, and they also allow them to be easily wrapped. The insert which tells about the symbolism of the cranes means that the giver can be assured that the recipient knows the story behind the crane. This is often part of the reason a purchase is made. Make it easy for the buyer. Easier to decide. Easier to give as a gift. Easier to explain.

5. What color someone is wearing is a good clue. It doesn't always apply, but nearly always. Even with the vessels, the color they were drawn to was often complimentary to the one they were wearing. This is also why I like to group my work by color. Making a transistion from one color to the next. I mix it up a bit, but in general it makes it easier for people to find the work that would most appeal to them when it is group by color.

6. Be flexible. Be willing to take the extra little step to help someone out to make the sale. I had someone try on several pieces of jewelry, and then purchase a pendant and a pair of earrings. The pod on the pendant was sewn together with red seed beads. On the earrings, they were coppery. She wanted the red beads for the earrings as well. Not a problem. I assured her I could make her a pair with the red beads, and ship those out to her. She wanted them in time for her son's wedding in two weeks. No problem. They would move to the top of the list. Today I made up those pods, and tomorrow I will create the hoops, and get them packaged and mailed. In the meantime, the original pair of earrings sold to a later customer at the show. By offering to make the new pair for the first customer, I was able to sell the pair on display to someone else.

Similarly, I made a new crane to go with one from a pair at the show. And I will convert them to hanging cranes. A necklace will be shortened for someone else. Small things that make the purchaser feel more satisfied with their purchase, and more willing to recommend your work to someone else. Know that you can say no, and sometimes it is the right thing to do. But be willing to make those little accomodations to help complete the sale.

All in all, it was a great show. My sales increased significantly from last year, when I could not have my jewelry there. My daughter had a great time. I met some terrific artists. And I learned a lot. The market continues to be tough. But there are plenty of opportunities to refine your work, and your sales process. There are few laboratories better than a show to work on those things. And maybe, just maybe, going into the show with goals beyond sales will create more opportunities for success.

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