Thursday, May 1, 2008

Whose Job is it Anyway??

Negative reports began to surface within hours of the end of the ACRE show. There were not enough buyers. They were not placing orders. The promoter should have done more.

And yet, there are voices out there of people who did well. People who made connections and placed orders. What does one artist do that is different and works from another artist who struggles?

This eye-catching display belongs to Judy Belcher, shown here setting up and hamming it up. It could not be more simple, or more effective. Her palette is primarily black and white, with touches of color.....just like her booth. To reinforce the medium of polymer clay and the location of the show, she made some poker chips with her name and booth number for people to take with them. She was prepared with support material, and had a special offer for those who placed an order. She had strong work and a positive attitude. Her "be-back's" came back.

Another artist who did a terrific job of reinforcing a message with their work was Joyce Fritz. Joyce makes bugs that you want to touch and to own. Whimsical, beautiful, colorful bugs, with enough realism to amaze. And, she wears several of them at once, strategically placed, as a bug would land. On her shoulder, her back, here and there on her sweater or jacket. She had beetles that had beautiful landscape canework on the wings. And it was all displayed in cigar boxes on tables with green netting. In a simple way, she created a magical space in her ten by ten foot space. When someone placed an order, they got a little bug to wear on their badge. Advertising that traveled the show. More brilliance that worked.

These ladies did not spend time in the aisles griping about the lousy turnout. They were in their booth and ready to greet anyone who stopped by their booth. Their work was strong. It had fresh elements. Their displays worked to complement their work. And they knew they were their to sell, not to socialize or complain. That was for non-show hours, if at all.

There were many other artists who had positive experiences. I do not know those stories as well as these two. The economy is awful. Galleries are going out of business. Others are hanging on, but their business is down. It is effecting all of us. But, those who do more than complain, who work a bit harder and a bit smarter will come out of this period stronger and wiser. That is the side I am working to be on.

How about you? This is a year to survive. To hang on and bring your best game forward. Complaining has never gained anyone business. Complaining has never made work sell.

What do you need to be doing?

Advertise. Ads, postcards, e-newsletters, etc. Stay in the consciousness of your customers and potential customers. Over and over again, I heard people tell me about how they had seen me at other wholesale shows....which I did not attend. Why? They had seen my ads at about the same time period. Advertising can work. But it has to be sustained, and with strong images.

Innovate. Is your work stale? Is it time for some new designs?

Story/Theme. Does your work have a story or a theme? Have you shared that? Are you thinking at all about the kinds of things that are going on in the world right now, and how your work might tie into that? Environmental your work green? Price points for a soft you have work at a lower price point? Peace was a theme I saw frequently in artist's work.

Do you need help? with your booth, with your sales technique, with your marketing materials? If people are going to wait to place orders after the show, do you have materials to send them off with, or to reach out to them with after the show? If you don't know where to begin, find someone to help.


Barbara J Carter said...

Fantastic post, Judy!

All your points are equally relevant for both wholesale and retail. Artists as well as craftspeople. Frankly, all entrepreneurs. This is the time to dig deep and hang on, like you say.

On a lighter note, are you going to show us YOUR booth? :)

Barbara J Carter
Neo-Pointillist Paintings

Judy said...

Hi Barbara,
You are applies equally to retail. My booth? Check back one post. There are two pictures there.

Molly said...

Great post! Very relevant. My other job is in the real estate industry and we all know that those who offer a real service and work just a bit harder make it through the storm. Those who don't find another profession.

If you are able to stick to it and ride the storm, you will do even better once it is over, IF you keep the habits developed in the rough patch.

(again, great post)

Barbara J Carter said...

Whoops, right you are! And a terrific looking booth it was, too.

Never mind me, I'm in pre-show prep frenzy and can hardly remember my own name.


Judy said...

Hi Molly, I can imagine there are people dropping out of real estate left and right. You are right about maintaining those good habits. They are not just for the tough times.

No problem Barbara. I understand the mental overload of pre-show preparations. Good luck with your show!