Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back to School...Math Lesson

It is that time of year again. For a long time I felt like September should be when the year began. My whole rhythm was on the school calendar. I am back on it again, with kids, but I don't feel that same sense of new beginnings that I used to.

Fall is time to gear up production. Galleries and shops are placing orders for their holiday inventory. Shows are coming up. (I will be at the Lyndhurst show in Tarrytown, New York from September 14th to 16th). Special holiday sales are lining up their artists. It is time to hunker down and crank out the work. January now seems to offer more time and space for renewal and reflection.

I came back from my trip thinking that was going to dive into production. I knew I had a few orders that had to get out after I got back. And a few catalogs to send. But the trip threw me off my game. My back was seriously out of whack for about a week, and I was jet lagged and exhausted. My studio was in a state of chaos when I left, and the cleaning fairy never showed up to tidy things up.....she always seems to miss my place.....

So Labor Day weekend was one of serious labor for me. I had three orders to crank out. I had some inventory I could draw on, but... One order had slipped my radar until I went hunting for the paperwork for another. Today, I shipped all three orders, and sent out information packages to five shops/galleries. After that I took a well deserved afternoon off. Whew! Tomorrow the kids go back to school and I can get back in the groove. Top of the list, dig out the studio!

One of the advantages to shows, or delivery dates for wholesale orders is that they give me deadlines to focus on tasks that I am prone to put off. I finally put together a product insert for my jewelry, that can also serve as an earring card. It has a paragraph blurb about me and my inspiration on the back/inside. I know these things make a difference and are important to do. But, do I make them a priority? Nope. They keep sliding down the list. Never bumping up to the top of the list. My inserts for the cranes have been an important element to their success. Why do I think I can just skip that step with my jewelry??

There are just so many things to balance. In addition to being creative, and productive, we need to make sure that the business side of things stays up there on the to-do list. I also put together a flyer for the new star ornaments, and a sell sheet for my new jewelry. Both of these went in the packages and the information packets that went out today. It was tough to pull all of this together, but it felt really good to know that I gave those tasks the attention they had been needing.

I can easily lose a day in my studio. Going from production to play and back again. But if I do not do the other work, the business side of things, it all might as well be play. I was reading a newsletter sent out by Paradise City Arts Festivals to artists. In it, they report on sales results for their spring and summer shows. They did an additional analysis of the self-reported data from artists this time. They looked at the correlation of sales with advertising and direct mail efforts by the artist. It was not clear if this was just using the services provided by Paradise City, or if it included seperate marketing efforts by the artist. Either way, the end result was that the average sales were 24% higher for those who did the mailings and/or advertising for the show than for those who did not.

Twenty-four percent. The average sales for their shows are between $5000 and nearly $7000. I did the math. If we assume an average sales of $6000, and that half the artists advertise, and half don't.....

Artist who advertises and promotes their presence at the show: $6642
Artist who skips advertising and promoting presence at show: $5357

The difference: $1285.

Percents are one thing. Dollars are another. Paradise City offers to do a mailing at NO COST for any artist who provides them with the mailing list. They have a website, that can link to the artist's web page....assuming the artist has a website. Artists can also purchase ads in their show guide they mail out prior to their shows.

How much time does it take to send a mailing list in to have someone else do your mailing? If you are keeping up your mailing list, ten minutes tops. Do you have a website? If not, put it on the top of the list, right after updating your mailing list. A website is essential today. You do not need to have a merchant site. Pictures, artist's statement, bio, contact info, and of course images of your work. You do not have to be a programming whiz. You can either hire someone, or use a hosting service that offers a template that you can easily do yourself. You cannot skip these steps. Look what the potential costs are. Are you willing to walk away from nearly $1300 because it is a hassle? I didn't think so.

No wonder I loved math so much. And marketing.

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