Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tedium Central

I am doing a task I have known I should do for a long time, but never quite got around to it. I am building a mailing list of galleries. With the ACRE show coming up, I want to do what I can to maximize my success at the show....and the return on the money spent doing the show!

When I first starting selling at retail shows, I began my mailing list with the names of friends and acquaintances. It is the classic place to begin when you are starting from scratch. Over time, I added to that list with people who would sign my mailing list book at a show, or buy work from me at a show. Over time I have built up a decent size list.

Putting together a mailing list for a wholesale show is in some ways easier, and in some ways more tedious. With the internet, there is a wealth of information at our fingertips. But it means spending time sorting through all that information to find the shops and galleries that appear to be the best fit for your work.

How do you begin?? If you have done some wholesale sales, you have a start. If you have had any one ask you if you sell wholesale, they go on the list. Over the last several years, this list has grown to just over 100 entries. I have used this list in the past for an e-mail newsletter, and for my postcard mailing before ACRE last year.

But, the economy is tougher now. Now is not the time to put off doing the things we know we need to do to grow our business. So, I have spent the last two days adding to that list, and it now approaches 300 entries. How?

1. Magazines. American Style. Crafts Report. Looking at ads and gallery profiles. Sometimes it is an ad for an artist's work that has a list of several galleries that carry their work. If the work is similar enough in style (contemporary vs. rustic, colorful, etc.) than I add those galleries or shops to my list.

2. Internet. This is a multi-webbed approach, much like the internet itself. I might start searching for a gallery with Google, to find a street address, and then see several artists whose names come up in the search, because they have their work in that gallery. If I recognize an artist as someone whose work I think would complement my own, I go to their website and see if they have a list of shops and galleries. This can be a gold mine of information.

The other approach on-line is to go to artist's websites directly and see where they list to purchase their work. Inevitably, I find myself bouncing between these approaches. I may get a list of galleries from one site, but then I need to fill in information about the mailing addresses, and it is back to Google. Before long, I am on another artist's website.

There is no guarantee that the gallery or shop is still in business, or that you can find a good address. There is no guarantee that they will be going to the ACRE show. is a numbers game. The more people I get my work in front of, the more opportunities I will have to sell my work. If you want to think of it the other way, you have to get a certain number of rejections to get to the "yes!" This task could be building the number of "no's" to help find the "yes!"es.

Sometimes, when the economy is strong, and your work is in demand, you can coast along without doing all those things you know you should do, but never get around to. When the economy is slow, the most savvy will survive. And the savvy are working every opportunity they can to increase their chances of success.

The way I see it, I could spend this time whining about how crappy the economy is, and how so few people are buying craft......or.......I can get busy and find those people that are. This is not likely to be a stellar year for business overall. But even in the worst of times, some thrive. Sometimes it is because they are offering a product or service that is in greater demand when times are tough. Or, sometimes, it is because they put in that extra effort. They work to go against the flow, and build a strong business in spite of the economy. When the economy turns around, they already have momentum in their favor, and will likely be positioned for greater growth. That is where I want to position myself.

So I sit here at the computer. Googling. Sorting. Searching.

In the end, it will likely be time well spent.


Joann said...

You go, Judy! You will be one of the ones that thrive thru this downturn. Don't forget to think about your website too. I can suggest some good info for Search Engine Optimization.

I'm just trying to break into business now. I'm not worried about the economy, because one of my tactics it to write instructions for original designs and to sell kits. When the economy goes down, crafting tends to go up. People want to stay at home, and do fun things. They want nice things, but don't want to spend a lot of money.

There are so many different ways to thrive thru this recession/depression. I hope your readers heed your advice!


Cindy Dean said...

I was just checking out ACRE as I live in Las Vegas and just heard of it. Good luck with the show. Looks like it is a big show.