Sales vs Promotions , Pricing Your Goods , Customer Relations, Price Points, Selling on Online Auctions, Selling From Websites
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Selling At Art / Craft Shows
author: Sandy Paluzzi
There are many different types of art / craft shows. Each caters to a different buyer and price point. Your lovingly beaded goods are going to have to be placed in the appropriate type of show. You're not going to get your prices if the booth next to you features imported mass produced goods. Most crafts people / artisans do best in a show which deals exclusively with artisans. Still, mid price range beaded work will not do well in an extremely high end show and high ends goods will probably fail in a show that caters to mid range products. You can ask the show's promoter for information on price range, type of vendors, etc. You can also talk to other artisans and your customers. They will tell you what shows they think are right for you.
Some shows are juried - you must send in pictures of your work before you enroll in the show. Your artwork will be judged for suitability in the show before you're allowed to rent a space. Still other shows jury not just your work but also your show displays. If you think you may be applying to juried shows in the future, you may want to take a few pictures of your next show booth.
Be prepared to provide everything for your booth display. Tables, table drapings, chairs, and jewelry display stands are essentials. Buying everything from scratch will cost around 500.00 This money pales in comparison to the amount of time spent creating unique, eye catching displays. Every article I have ever read and every show exhibitor I have ever spoken to speaks of the importance of the booth display. Having pieces at various levels is key. But there are many other issues and techniques which Heather Powers has addressed at http://www.humblebeads.com/booth_displays.html
While I have seen several lampworkers selling beads alone at bead shows, this is definitely a place where two people are better than one. A very few large expensive shows will have an employee available to watch your booth (but not to take orders) while you take a short break. Most shows do not offer this service. Crowds at shows ebb and flow. It is good to have someone else there to help serve your customers when traffic is peaking.
I have gotten you and your booth to the show. If you've chosen wisely, your show promoter will bring in the traffic. Now I'm going to turn to three show exhibitors and let them guide you in turning all that traffic into sales. All three of them keep in touch with their contacts between shows and all stress the importance of a SMILE and a professional attitude at the shows. None of our interviewees will be seen reading a book, eating their breakfast, or otherwise distracted from their customers. Each, in their own way, make their customers feel welcome and valued without resorting to a hard sell.
Again, I am impressed with the generosity of all in sharing their knowledge. Please thank them by taking a few minutes to visit their websites.
Andrea Grim, Finders Keepers , makes her jewelry out of semi precious beads and Bali sterling silver.
Andrea also puts color to work for her at her booth. She groups jewelry together by color family. She says that red and yellow attract the eye. Therefore, she is careful to place a red or yellow piece in a high traffic area of her booth. She greets people warmly, gives a brief description of the materials she uses in her work and then backs down. However, she actively encourages people to touch her work. If she sees someone handling a piece, she'll tell them to 'feel free to try it on'. One of the essentials at Andrea's booth is a mirror for customers.
Andrea wants to drive people to her website from the show. To this end, she has business cards and flyers available with her website address. She also has rolodex cards available for her customers to fill out. They write their contact info, including email address, on the cards. Then she can email those people advance notice of her future show appearances.
Kathleen Peterson, Handmaid For The Lord, sells rosaries and jewelry with a religious theme from her website. She also has a more secular line which she brings to shows.
Kathleen stresses the importance of appearing professional at shows. She never wears jeans but always wears her jewelry. Her display is always filled with merchandise. She feels that a sparse display of jewelry discourages people from looking. So as not to be caught short of merchandise, she brings every available piece of jewelry to her shows.
Kathleen greets people and tries to establish trust. Her initial conversation with a potential customer typically is NOT about her jewelry. She also stresses the importance of maintaining friendly relationships with other exhibiters as well as with the customers. A friendly referral from another booth can bring even more traffic her way.
Once she has attracted people to her booth, Kathleen looks for impulse sales. She always has a wicker basket filled with lower priced jewelry. She also makes inexpensively priced children's jewelry. Frequently, the kids will be attracted to spend their 'show allowance'. The parents naturally follow. Kathleen offers matching mother / daughter pieces for those families that want to dress alike. However, she did caution that child friendly booths are a mixed blessing. As we all know, small children just love to paw through things and feel there is no limit as to how much jewelry can be worn on one arm!
Kathleen has been doing shows for three years now. She is starting to develop a loyal following. She keeps in touch with these customers by emailing a newsletter of upcoming shows. She makes it easy for people to sign up for her newsletter - they can do so at the show or online at her website.
Heather Powers makes polymer beads and turns some of those beads into jewelry. She sells the jewelry at her website, Heather Powers - Contemporary Beaded Jewelry and sells her beads at www.justbeads.com, username humblebee8.
Having done shows for ten years, Heather is the most experienced of the group. Heather has hand made every part of her booth. It is her article I referenced earlier in this column. She has the business aspects of selling at shows down pat. Heather brings along enough jewelry to fill her table 1 1/2 times. This gives her reserve pieces to use to fill in the spots when jewelry is sold. I can also imagine a customer's delight if Heather were to reach into reserve stock for a piece that suits their taste.
Heather credits her success to many things - but most importantly to a super good excited attitude regardless of the show. She says attitude is crucial. According to Heather, "If you're not excited about your work, no-one else will be."
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