Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lessons and Adjustments, Part 2

My changes to the booth on day 2 lead to a significant improvement in sales, but still not a great day. So I decided on day three, I had nothing to lose. I had to totally rethink my display and my work.

I had been looking at my work as if it was reflected in a fun house mirror. My perception was distorted. Loretta Lam put it well, "sometimes we fall too much in love with our work." I had been working hard in the previous few weeks, making changes, and new designs. I was excited about the changes and thought I was heading in the right direction. And I still believe that I am. But it takes more than good work to make a show work for you. In today's economy every aspect of presenting and selling your work matters. And I had gotten a lot of things wrong.

I started by moving the tables further forward. I moved everything onto two tables, and moved them as far forward as I possibly could. Seeing my work from the aisle became much easier.
Next, I began looking at the work I had out. I had a necklace that I loved as a focal point on one table. I loved the play of colors, and the way the pods were spaced out on the necklace. But the colors said spring or summer, not fall. And the weather was turning crisp and cool. While I might wear any color, any time of the year, not everyone else will.
So the necklace went back into stock and another piece that had more fall colors was moved into the prime spot. All the pinks, lavenders, and peaches went under the table, and all the earth tones, greens, silvers and greys came out.
I took a look at my prices, and "sharpened my pencil". All this work made a difference. The last day sales were higher than the first two days combined. It was not a good show overall, but I salvaged what I could from it, and learned some lessons in the process.
And today, I got a call from the manager of the gift shop at the Peabody Essex Museum. I had a customer on Sunday who mentioned she worked there. I had been trying for nearly two months to get in there with my polymer clay origami cranes. They have an origami exhibit there now that runs through till June of 2008. I thought my cranes would be a perfect fit for the gift shop. I just could not reach the gift shop manager.
When I found out that this person worked at the museum, and knew the woman I was trying to reach I was thrilled. I had brought some of my small cranes to give to people as gifts or "thank you's." I generally do not sell this size crane. I gave one to this woman to bring to the gift shop manager. It is packaged the same way as the larger cranes, but is quite a bit smaller. I gave one to my new customer, her sister, and one to her mother, while I was at it!! Why not build a little good will...
Today the gift shop manager called, and we talked for a bit about the cranes. And I got a nice size order. My show was salvaged. The order was for more cranes than I would normally sell at a retail show. Even though I missed some sales by not having cranes at the show, in the end, I was better off with this new account that could result in some great sales in the coming months.
As they say, "It ain't over, till it's over"....but even then, it may not be over!


tammy vitale said...

I've always thought the great thing about shows is that you make new contacts. Sales at the show are always welcome, but shows go so far beyond that - as you've just proven. Congratulations!

Loretta Lam said...

Yeah! I'm so glad about the crane order.
It is absolutely true that sometimes it's not about the bottom line. I have one show i continue to do because, although sales are slow, I have always come away with a great connection - press, wholesale or teaching - some opportunity I would otherwise have missed.
And I also agree that we learn more from our failures. I think of it as "the little engine that could" syndrome. Nothing like a little set back to start get the gray matter working. Anyway, I'm glad you found some perspective in the situation.
xxx L

Judy Belcher said...

Yea! Judy. I learn so much from you. You are a generous person to take time each day to educate us. Thanks.
other Judy

Janice said...

There's so much to be learned from this one show. I love how you dove in and started re-thinking the floor plan, color schemes of jewelry - you are one smart cookie! It makes so much sense. Sometimes its hard to take that step back, realize you can change things and move forward. Terrific job! Thanks for sharing. And congratulations on the Peabody Essex Museum. I love how the customer who worked there just happened to come by the show in New York! Very cool!

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