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Profile: Kristen Stein Shares Advice and Lessons


What are the most important lessons you have learned about being an artist and selling your work?

I have learned that creating and selling your own artwork as an independent, self-representing artist is truly a 24/7 job.  I am constantly working…..whether it be creating new works, chatting about the newest pieces online, updating blogs and online listings or simply daydreaminga about the next painting, I seem to always be thinking ‘art’. I would imagine that other artists feel the same way about constantly ‘bringing our work home with us’ and never really feel like we take a day off. So, in this way, being an artist is truly a full-time job….but I can’t complain as it really is a dream job when you get to create and sell works that are borne from your imagination.

What advice would you give to other artists?

Persevere…even in the slowest and darkest times. If you love what you do and the work makes you happy, it will likely bring joy to other people as well.  The business cycle can get frustrating…especially in the slowest of times…. but continue to create according to your passion, and eventually the market will upswing again.  Continue to learn from the world and people around you and this will help you grow both in your art and your business.


 

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Marketing Monday: 6 must know things for pricing

 

marketing monday good stuff weekly

Know what your costs are

This is very simple and yet a lot of folks disregard it because they think it entails a lot of left brain machinations. I’m here to tell ya if that was the case I’d never ever address it…because while I grew up as the tail end of the slide rule generation I’m lucky to add 2+2 and get four if I have to do it in my head. Thankfully, I don’t have to any more due to the advent of those funky things we called Goesintas ( as two goes into four or calculators).

While it may seem obvious that your prices must at the very least cover your costs and if you intend to support yourself with your work the price must also include something extra to help you move out of your van. This process is called knowing your “Cost of Doing Business”. In its smallest form it amounts to adding up all the things you need to spend money on that

  • Cover the costs of the stuff you need to have to make your stuff… in other words supplies, expenses like costs associated with firing a kiln load of pots.
  • Let you move out of your van, like PROFIT.

    To do it the short way, just add up your studio related expenses to get a base number that will show you the least amount you need to make to keep your credit card bill down and your studio working. That’s your Cost of Doing Business.

    If you then subtract that from the income you receive you will have the minimum you need to at least break even.

    However, I would suggest an easier way that would give a good idea as to what you need to make to cover all your costs while factoring in a desired profit (for moving out of the van). There are a couple of tools available that I have used in my photography business.

    • NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) Cost of doing business calculator which is an online tool.
    • ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) Cost of doing business calculator which does the same thing as the NPPA one only in more detail and as an Excel file. It is also designed to let you determine your annual income
      You can download it here: cdb_calc_06
    • Art Worth Calculator

    Know what you need to keep you in your studio

    Ok…now you know how much it costs to make your stuff and to at least keep you from either living in your studio or out of your van. It is probably safe to say that you’d really like to have living arrangements that at least gave you a kitchen and your own bathroom, so now you have to figure out what you need to make to get those tow important things. It is called profit and amounts to income that isn’t eaten up by other costs.

    This part is more art than science and subject more to your own preferences than anything else. I generally, list out the things I need… like paying myself, upgrading computer etc. And then prioritize them by their order of importance and NOT by their cost because cost can lead me down a rabbit hole. Once I’ve done that, I add what I call contingency which can be anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent to get the profit I need to make. The details of pricing individual products will be covered later.

    retro_buyersKnow your market and its buying habits

    Before you attempt to set pricing strategies you gotta know they have a chance of working with your market. So spend some time now reviewing your perfect buyer profile and both your market demographic and psychographic descriptions. What causes them to buy? What type of stuff do they buy? How do you really fit into their buying habits?

    Know what you are really selling

    Instead of describing what we make in a way that would put even the most ADD among us to sleep in seconds, we are going to look at how to REALLY describe what we make and when to use that description. For now just starting thinking of your stuff the way a chef might describe a sensuously luxurious meal.

    Know which three types of buyers you attract

    There are generally three types of buyers and it is important to know where yours fall. Knowing where your buyers fall will be key to your ability to price and sell without discounting. The three types are:

    • Those who willingly pay full price for your stuff because they know and trust and they know the value of your work.
    • Those who shop for cheap stuff because they really can’t afford much let alone your premium prices but they do recognize your value.
    • Those who are hunters, always pursuing the lost price possible as a trophy without regard to quality. These folks proudly brag about how they “saved” five cents on a whatzit despite using up $10.00 of gas hunting and bagging the prey.

      Knowing this information can help you with your pricing strategies by helping you understand what triggers their desire for your stuff.

      Know your market position

      Go back again and check your business model as well as your USP and make sure you are clear on how you are positioned in the market. Does pricing play a major role in your market position. So if you are positioning yourself as a true artiste aiming at the luxury market low pricing may hurt you. Your pricing must be consistent with your position.

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      Featured Artist: Jane Campbell talks about vision and lessons

      JC_featured_artist

      jane campbell What is your vision for your art?

      This is a difficult question because art is an evolution of self. It’s living. My vision for my art today may not be the same in a year or 2 or 3 or… At this point my vision is to honor God with my art, and make others happy, inspired and have my art provide for the necessities & luxuries in life.

      What do you see your work doing for those who buy it?

      I would like my art to touch people, enhance their lives or a little corner of it, and make them happy when they look at it. I am blessed to have received many emails telling me that my art has done this for them and I will continue to strive for just that reaction. My most touching emails I have recieved have been someone telling me that one of my angels reminded them of someone they have lost or how it makes them smile.

      How has your art evolved over time?il_430xN-2

      For many years it was all about realism. Pushing myself to paint like a photograph. I would drive myself crazy, sometimes abandoning a painting only to find it still unfinished years later because I couldn’t get something the way I wanted it. It was only when I began painting from my heart, painting what I wanted to & what I like, giving myself more freedom to not be perfect, not painting to please others or painting something to match the furniture, that I began to really truly enjoy it.

      il_430xN-3What are the most important lessons you have learned about being an artist and selling your work?

      The most important lessons I have learned are that marketing & being true to yourself is essential. It takes an enormous amount of time and work but staying devoted will reap rewards.

      What advice would you give to other artists?il_430xN-4

      Be true to yourself. Do what you love most. Don’t create art solely to make a dollar, there’s no heart in that or satisfaction. Create art from your own experiences and life, not others. Put yourself out there even though it’s not comfortable. Not everyone is going to like what you do, don’t be discouraged and lose your confidence from the few that don’t. Know your market place, market yourself, believe in yourself then others will & provide great customer service. You are your business.

      il_430xN

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      Featured Artist: Jane Campbell

      JC_featured_artist

      Jane Campbel is a Folk Artist  liveing in Northern California right in the heart of Gold Country. Her  home is just miles from where apples are grown, wine is made & gold was first discovered. She was born in South Carolina & spent her early childhood there before moving to Japan , Arizona & finally California.  Her  travels add to her varied taste in art. There isn’t any style that she does’t like! I love painting angels, mermaids & mermaid angels.

      il_430xN_7In her words

      Full-time contemporary folk artist, wife & mother of professional musicians and 2 spoiled poodles. After many years in the mortgage industry I found myself unemployed Nov 2007. I took this opportunity to do what I love!

      il_430xN_3My house is full of music everyday, My husband & both sons are musicians, I don’t like to eat a lot of things that start with the letter A with the exception of apples & artichokes, I love shoes but hardly wear them, I have impossible to curl blonde hair that is below my waist, I like to paint late at night, I like boating but get sea sick on the ocean, I like cats but have bad luck when it comes to owning them, I appreciate gardens but hate to garden, mustard yellow is one of my favorite colors, I am basically a shy person but I can hide it well, I am legally blind in my left eye, I would like to have a gypsy wagon, I do henna tattoos, I have lived in a house with ghosts, I used to catch & collect dragonflies when I was a kid, my friends and family call me Jana.

      My art is inspired by sweet things in my life, my loving family , my friends and sometimes by my goofy sense of il_430xN_8humor. My life is filled with music, artful things & loving people. I have enjoyed painting for 37 yrs. I am basically self taught but have studied art on my own & taken classes. After losing my job in the mortgage industry I decided to devote myself to my art.

      In addition to my love for painting, I am a crafter. I learned to crochet at age 7. I was mesmerized by Japanese sparkly yarn! This was the beginning of a lifetime of crafting! I enjoy crochet, knitting, sewing, embroidery & other needlework, perfume making, cake decorating, wood crafts, clay work & decorative painting. So in addition to my paintings you never know what you might find here!I am a member of the Folk Art Society of America & Swell Sister Society, a new group of Sacramento women artists. **I’m also a member of the Etsy CAST Team

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      My art has been sold all over the US and internationally.

      www.folkartbycampbelljane.blogspot.com
      www.alteredpages.blogspot.com
      TWEET! www.twitter.com/folkartjane

      il_430xN_2

      *Recent Exhibitions*

      Marco Fuoco Gallery, Sacramento, CA June 09
      Cafe Refugio, Sacramento, CA Feb 09
      Tangent Gallery, Sacramento, CA Nov 08
      Marco Fuoco Gallery, Sacramento, CA Nov 08
      Coffee Garden, Sacramento, CA Dec 08

       

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      Marketing Monday: Human Behavior & Pricing

      Before we jump into the meat of pricing there are a few things that need to be understood because they form the foundation of any pricing strategy and they reflect the results of recent research on consumer behavior by leading behavioral economists.

      Markets/buyers don’t behave rationally

      Traditional or /classic economic theory has held for centuries that buyers and sellers in any market will always behave with their own best interest in mind and in so doing provide a level of equilibrium to the market place.

      Significant research is showing that neither buyers or sellers always act with their own best interests in mind and often do so without any conscious knowledge that they are acting against their own self interest. Recent remarks by Alan Greenspan stating he was “shocked” that the previous market assumptions of rationality were not working. This research can help us understand not only the behavior of our potential buyers but also how we can break through it and help them towards better value driven buying decisions.

      Buyers and sellers generally operate within either social norms or market norms but never both

      Social norms

      Defined as unwritten social contracts create a level of interaction and trust that is more like “family” and is often the best way to create loyalty and trust based on a common cause, goal or connection. Examples are a commonly understood but unwritten agreement that you as a seller will trust your buyers to pay you if they can’t at the time of purchase (something many artists do). Or an agreement that you will ship their purchase with in a reasonable number of days. Social norms are often based on perceived or real value and respect with sales being more interactive than transactive, the focuse is placed on the ability of the product to meet the needs of the buyer and not on its price.

      Market Norms

      Defined according the traditionally understood ways of doing business in a strictly transactional manner…I sell something for $xxx.xx you buy that something for what I set the price at. Your desire to buy can be manipulated by me by applying certain rules of pricing that are known to make you want to even when you don’t need or want what I have to sell.

      Recent research has shown that once an interaction moves from operating under the rules of social norms to those of market norms interactions change drastically and cannot return back to a social norm way of interacting. For example: You have set pricing for your stuff but informally you are willing to mutually agree on a price your reputation for this has let sell more and average higher income over time. If you were to change that to strictly sticking to your set price you would then be operating under market norm rules and would likely see a decrease in sales.Those who bought your stuff under the old way of selling will revert back to their market norm way of behaving and will only see your price and since you are no longer flexible they will move on to find  someone who is.

      Another example of these two in action would be different pricing strategies, one that takes the focus off price and puts it on helping the buyer by not manipulating price to force a purchase. The other, strategy would be using Market Norms to manilulate price to entice a buyer to buy something even if it doesn’t meet their needs. For example, it is well known that buyers will always choose something that either is free or includes something that is free even if the “free” thing has no value or even the combined value/quality of the purchased item and the free item are less that of the same item that doesn’t have a “free” secondary thing with it. So people will always pick a two for one deal of lesser combined value/quality over something that more adequately meets their desires.

      Opportunity cost must always be included in your cost analysis when setting pricing strategy

      Briefly an opportunity cost is the cost occurred when we choose between alternatives or what is given up in favor of a particular course of action. The cost is found in the cost mostly in non-monetary terms of choosing one alternative over another.

      This effects artists in setting prices and in their own profit and loss analysis. For example: You decide to design your web site your self even tho you don’t @#$$% about how to do it, because you think  doing so is “saving” you money since otherwise you’d have to pay someone to do it. Doing it yourself would mean time away from making art, or working on your marketing. That time has a cost in both emotional terms and monetary terms, the cost in dollars is your hourly rate ( because your don’t work for free) and the lost opportunity of creating more inventory together with the loss of profit from fewer sales.

      So just as you would add the  dollar cost of building the web site to your overhead costs, if you had someone else do it, you also need to add the hourly rate you pay yourself plus  the objective cost “value” of lost happiness in having the profits from producing the additional inventory and the joy you get from making your art.

      The point is just because you choose to do it yourself don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need to pay yourself. That combined cost needs to be added into your costs when you create your pricing strategy.

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      Marketing Monday: The Offer

      Review

      The first two installments in this series we talked about the importance of knowing your Bizmodel and how the normal retail model doesn’t fit artsyfartsy bizs to well. We also described why they are different and why an artsyfartsy biz model needs to keep this specialness in mind when customizing their bizmodel.

      The offer

      The first part of the artsyfartsy bizmodel is the offer...basically what are you selling? And what are you selling it for? So you might think that this part of the model is pretty easypeasy

      You sell stuff you make to get $$$$$ right?

      Well there is a little more to it than that…so let’s take a look first what that simple thing does. See looking at your artsyfartsy bizmodel  as a way of selling your stuff to make dough for whatever reason breaks the all time do not ever break even if your life depends on it cardnal rule of selling artsyfartsy stuff. That rule is:

      Thou shalt not commoditize thy stuff!!!

      Of course you can but in the process burn out, hate your life, and head off to never-never land to escape the craziness of feeling like a factory. See when everything is all about getting dollars there is no time or energy to get to know who your buyers are and why they buy your stuff. In other words there is No Relationship. And guess what? Those swarms of buyers who are pushing and shoving each other to buy that dodad of yours will probably never buy another one because they are only interested in one thing…price, and maybe a momentary impulse to have your do-dad.

      Do you see what’s happened? This easy as pie gimme the dough business model did a couple of things:

      • It put the focus of the sales process on price;
      • Your handcrafted thing into just a thing a commodity.

        So what’s the big whoop about that?

        Well, in fact, some majorly stuff that could keep you stuck as a human production machine.

        First and really important is  that when price is the primary consideration all you really think about is whether you are charging to much, it is very easy to under price your stuff because those swarms of buyers are only concerned about price so you’ll easily fall down that slippery slop of keeping your prices down which in turn make sure your profit ends up being peanuts. So when you do need to raise your prices you end up obsessing over every penny being the one that will drive everyone away and you into the street.

        Second and this is also very important to understand… The real buyers, the ones who will come back again and again won’t be showing their smiling faces any time soon, because they are more interested in finding the solution to their problems. They may buy your thing but only because they thought it was cute or whatever. Their attention and focus is on getting that one problem solved…that is their mission.

        Third, all this craziness can also lead to no marketing at all “because it costs money” or to becoming one of those salesmany types always telling your buyers how cheap your stuff is. Most artsyfartsy types I know would rather stick a fork in their eyes than give away free hot dogs in order to sell their stuff. So they quietly sneak back to their studio to continue on thei happy journey of denial.

        So what is the artsyfartsy biz offer?

        129_ask_show071208-copyWell at first glance it doesn’t look like much but if you take a second look it changes the standard bizmodel by adding a little heart, which makes sure that all eyes focus on more than just that do-dad. The artsyfartsy bizmodel starts the following chain of events for your buyer:

        • Her problem is happily solved
        • She is now a happy buyer
        • A happy buyer buys more of your stuff
        • She happily brings her friends to buy your stuff

          When your focus is on happy buyers by understanding what problem your stuff solves, who it works for and what it is that makes them happy you change as well. Your focus shifts from “getting” to delivering. Or, what do you really need to make sure you can deliver the goods to keep those buyers happy and make them want to tell every other person like them how wonderful you are.

          Now the money

          At this point you may be starting to see the light that dollars are most important when they are looked at from the point of view of delivering the results you want to deliver. Say you want to be the one who makes art that makes people think or takes them to another place. Being focused on making sure your stuff actually does make people think or does take them off to dreamland will make it a lot easier to

          • Keep the sales process tuned into the relationship part of the sale
          • Almost guarantee that eyes won’t be looking anything else like price or the corner of the kiln you stuck that pot.

            The magic of it all

            Yes, it is magical, when you as an artsyfartsy biz owner changes your point of view. It’s almost like you just got new glasses, because you can now start to see your business as an organic whole and just a bunch of weird pieces that you can’t figure out how to work. Pieces are just pieces they may each have something they can do but alone they can only do that one thing.  So the marketing piece only does the marketing and can’t do it all that well on its own, and if it is joined by the the delivery part ( the part that is focused on happy campers) the two can support each other,

            Now, you’ll be able to not only learn what problem your stuff solves you’ll also know how to make sure the folks with that problem know you are the one who can make them happy because you have the solution! Having the solution helps those newbies to your stuff be happy and tell others like them about how happy you made them.
            In the end you sell more stuff or higher end stuff not because of its price but instead because of the solution it offers, because of the results the folks who buy your stuff experience.

            Finally, you start to see that your artsyfartsy biz is not selling stuff, it is selling particular solutions to problems your vision has seen as important for a certain group of people. Because that do-dad is not just a do-dad it is the sum total of your vision, your values. Your experience and everything else you have run across in life that brought you to this point. Without any of that you wouldn’t be able to see the problem in need of solution, you would’t be able to see how you have the answer or who has that problem.

             

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            Profile: Kristen Stein, artist

            Kristen Stein is a Contemporary Artist living in the Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania. Kristen’s works are currently available on a variety of online venues, or through her websites StudioArtworks.com and KristensCreations.com. Kristen’s paintings are in public and private collections within Australia, Canada, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Japan, the United Kingdom, and throughout the continental United States.

            Her art was featured in a special 2002 calendar in tribute to September 11th. Her cubist work appeared in promotional logos for the Ferndale Fine Art Show and appeared on the cover of the Allied Social Science Association’s annual meetings. Her whimsical art appeared on the cover of the Bulldog Club of Greater Seattle’s 2002 Specialty Show.

            Her painting “The Birth of Venus 2002″ won first place in a themed contest held by the emerging artists group “ESR@”.

            Her painting “The Jazz Club” appeared on the American Economic Associations Annual Meetings in January 2008.

            Kristen is the author/illustrator of the “The Vegetarian Lion” and the author of “Kristen Stein Contemporary Paintings”. She is also the illustrator of “Stacey McDuver’s House”. Kristen’s work will appear at the Straube Art Center during the Winter Fine Art Show in January – February 2009.

            stein1Kristen Stein featured artist the artistscenter

            Online

            Etsy Online Shop
            Blog
            Twitter
            Facebook
            Artist Website

            Current Exhibitions in Pennsylvania:

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            Comcast Center, Philadelphia
            Square Peg Artery, Philadelphia
            Mew Gallery, Philadelphia
            Curiousity Shoppe, Philadelphia
            Moderne Life Interiors, Jenkintown
            Catcha Break Café, Abington
            Zero Gravity Dance Studios, Elkins Park
            Picasso Restaurant, Media

            Upcoming :

            Heritage Art Gallery, June 2009(Ohio)
            Island Time Gallery, June 2009 (Ohio)
            Bambi Gallery , June 2009 (PA)
            Arts in the Park June 2009 (PA)
            Mendez Homes September 2009 (PA)

             
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            Christy DeKoning on Marketing Art

             

            Featured interview artist logo

            paris-christy-copy
            Tell us about your marketing journey… How did you start? When did you discover that you needed to market?

            It’s funny, but marketing seems to have come naturally to me. I used to work in offices as a marketing/creative assistant, so when I decided that I was ready to work at portraits on a full-time basis, it seemed logical to start talking to people online about it. I joined Etsy and that really got the ball rolling. My work tends to market itself, because people love to show off paintings of their family members to their friends, which in turn leads to more business for me – marketing is almost secondary to “word-of-mouth” advertising, which is my number one source of commissions.

            Do you have a marketing plan,strategy if so please summarize?

            No. I just wake up in the morning and decide if I’m going to paint first, blog first, or “twitter” away my morning.

            Do you use Social media online alone or do you combine it with off-line efforts?

            I have very little off-line marketing – 90% of my clients are international, which all comes from online marketing. I try to stay involved with my community as much as possible, so a certain amount of time is spent at local art shows, but I rely on social media for most of my connections.

            collection

            One of the things Christy has in common with the other artists to be featured here is her willingness to offer non-traditional ways for her clients to enjoy her work. She tastefully incorporates her work into post cards, jewelry, greeting cards and other accessories.  In doing so she and the other artists show an understanding of the client/customer courtship process I have talked about. These low cost alternatives give her buyers a chance to experience how she treats buyers and in the process increase their trust which in the end may lead to larger purchases. Additionally, she can offer the accesserories as upsells or as complimentary gift to big ticket buyers or collectors.

            Another example of both trust building and understanding the client courtship model is Christy’s willingness to share her process. Scattered through out her blog are numerous examples of mini-tutorials demonstrating her creative process. Some may worry that doing such a thing is tantamount to giving away state secrets but research has shown just the opposite. Artists, like Christy know the difference between style and technique, they know that no amount of “secrets” can give another person the ability to copy her style, her work will always be identifiable. More than sharing techniques her tutorials ofer a window into her creative journey and in the process build trust and adds another layer of uniqueness for her potential clients.

            tutorialTo see the marketing styles mentioned above check out Christy’s Blog, Artfire store and Etsy Store just click the links below:

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            Accessories

            Original Paintings

            Main Shop

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            Blog

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            Marketing Monday: 8 Ways to Turn Fans Into Missionaries

             

            So people have said they luv your work and they know a lot of folks who would luv it also but your studio doors aren’t coming unhinged by hoards of adoring fans from “what’s her name”. What’s that all about? “What’s her name” said she was going to send her neighbor your way but that was last year and nobody showed up saying “what’s her name” sent them.

            143_ask_show071208-copy1You have now arrived at your goal of gathering raving fans, buyers all gaga over your work and leave happy as clams after they bought something from you. The truth is times are tough now and you need more raving fans. That ’s what this level is all about basically, getting and keeping raving fans. But you know what? Not all of those folks dancing away with your stuff are really going to remember saying “I’ve gotta tell my neighbor to get over here”. That’s the part no one tells you, because the sales process really doesn’t stop here, this stage is all about helping those folks bring some more folks like them who will being more and more.

            Remember

            Everything you have done so far not only counts, but also is what got you to this point in the first place, so you can use it to help your buyers help you.

            If we go back to the studio doors not coming unhinged, there are some key things you need to look at to determine why and to help you make sure those doors do come unhinged. You set yourself up by getting your Who & What down pat ( at least for now) so that when you do see that special potential raving fan buyer, you can recognize her and you know what you need to do to court her on the way to this point. So here are some key things help you:

            1. But they said they would they would send some of their kindred spirits my way.

            Well take it easy, take a deep breath before you get all panicy. Here’s the deal… Life happens, people today have a lot on their plate we all have places to go and things to do and the list just keeps getting longer by the day, so cut them some slack.

            Besides just life happening these days they may also be a little dazed and confused, see you might not be making it very clear as to the who, what, where and how to send their neighbors your way. The whole process is clear as mud to them so they throw up their hands and give up or…

            They don’t know you as well as you think and your customer courtship process was not really all that clear so they  feel just a little reluctant  to send their BFF (best friend foreverrr)  your way. What if you bombard that BFF with e-mails, pitches and all the other yuk things that she thinks you might do? If that happens her BFF won’t be so BFF and her BFF is more important to her than you.

            2. But I gave her your name and info…

            Ok…let’s turn things upside down and look at it from the BFF’s point of view, because it’s pretty much the same as your fan’s. The full plate syndrome still applies here so that BFF may just never get around to showing up.

            Then there’s the totally confused state of figuring out whether she (the BFF) really will like your stuff, and she doesn’t have a chance of finding out, because her friend (your fan) didn’t have anything to give her to help her find you.  Your fan had no cards, no brochure, nothing to help remember you and she wasn’t asked for her info either…so her BFF is left to hope she’ll run across you sometime somewhere and we know how likely that is….right?

            Finally there’s the same scary part of what you might do if she decides to hunt you down and actually buy something. She really only wants to buy one thing right now if at all until she sees if you are going to stalk her like that car sales person did…you  never know! So what to do????? When in doubt don’t panic just….

            3. Go back to your W&W

            319_ask_show071208-copyNeedless to say, if you have done all the work needed in the earlier levels you’d be sitting pretty good right now. You’ll have a really good picture in your mind as to who that perfect raving fan is and what makes them tick. You’ll also know what you have that can not only make their lives better and easier but you’ll also have a really, really good idea as to what it is about your stuff that can help them live happy as clams.

            If you haven’t done this or only done it partly, spend some time here its important and it will help keep you from changing your address to a card board box…yes its that important!!

            4. Keep fillin’ the holes

            Well…sorta. Not all of your raving fans are going to be interested in raving about you for the reasons  mentioned above and many more. The good news is, those who do hang on, are doing so because they really, really like you and your stuff so much they want to be your missionaries. Oh…there is a catch, some of those wanna be missionaries may not have ever bought anything from you, they may have seen it, or heard about it from one of their friends and they just knew and your challenge is to find them!!!

            After everything shakes out you’ll have a bunch of tightly knit raving fans who own and know how your stuff makes their lives run oh so smoothly. But they aren’t enough… you’ll need to go back and take a look at that group of folks you think might go nuts over your stuff (your target market) and look again at where theyhang out and who they hang out with, along with what they do and the problems they might have. Then, you need to start letting these folks know you’ve got stuff that will make their lives better than they ever imagined…you need to keep filling the holes so you can make up for those folks who luv your stuff but may only buy something once a decade.

            6. Focus and sharpen

            Remember earlier, when we talked about confusion and uncertainty and systems and processes that weren’t exactly clear? Well now is when you get to make the necessary adjustments, so those folks you’ve been losing stop falling through the cracks. Again, if you have really dialed in your Who and What, this stage will be a lot easier, because you freed “what’s her name” to tell her BFF all about you without worrying about you being a jerk or forgetting who exactly you were and what exactly you did that she luved so much. See, “what’s her name” knows how you work, and she knew all along the way what the next step was, that is after all why she is now your missionary. She also is on your list and gets regular e-mails, which seem like you are talking directly to her. She also has the cool card you gave her, that had all your info on it and purty pitchure of your stuff.

            Wait a minute, remember,  you’ll need to keep developing new fans if you want to keep making your stuff. So you need to make sure that the path you took “what’s her name” along is out there for all those other potential fans to see. So go ahead and describe it on your web site, put it on a brochure, turn it into a tag line and put it on you biz card, and talk to the folks hovering over your work, about it. Also, as you are bring folks along keep them informed as to what to expect. Focusing should include:

            • Describing how you work with customers,
            • How they can find you
            • The steps they will experience along the way to buying your stuff.

            Now, its not necessary to give everyone a step by step, blow by blow description of what and how they just want to know you won’t be a jerk.

            7. Make it easypeasy

            If you want to keep making your stuff and not have to move into your parent’s  basement, your potential fans need to know how important it is to you that they tell their neighbors, friends, and family just how great your stuff is. And they have to know HOW to tell them to. There are a couple of very important things to keep in mind when doing this:

            • Don’t spring it on them 2 years after they bought something and well before you learned all this important stuff. They just might not like that… since you never mentioned it before.
            • Set up a good and easy system to help them help you. Think of it as a guide to helping them see through your eyes, so they can very easily recognize your perfect buyers. Make this “guide” reflect you, so if you’re really creative dream up a format that they will really enjoy and maybe give to folks they think would like your stuff. Above all…don’t be dull and boring! Include the guide in your newsletter, put it on your web site, include it with all your sales, most importantly make it easy to use and make your perfect buyer profile really, really, really clear. Eliminate all the worry and confusion that would be there without it.

            129_ask_show071208-copy8. Knock their socks off

            Most people have learned to have very low expectations of most businesses since the ’50s, when everything was made smooth and efficient and impersonal. And most businesses live up to those expectations. So besides all the other stuff suggested one of the best and easiest ways to get raving fans is to impress the $#@* out of them with your thoughtfulness. We’re not talking about giving the farm away here, just the little things that show you appreciate them. So you can knock their socks off by:

            • Sending them a hand written thank you card
            • Remembering their birthday ( you’ll obviously have to ask them first);
            • Featuring them in one of your newsletter or blog posts;
            • Holding their hand as you guide them along the path to buying your stuff;
            • Remembering that they are there and they want to know you care about them, keep up with you;

             

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            “Peoplewatch” your way to your perfect buyer

             

            So the show season is almost in full swing and you are beginning to shlep your stuff hither and yon to all corners of this country. If you are a gallery shower you might be shlepping or you may just be busy cold calling local galleries. Either way now is the time to start thinking about some very important stuff…like where is this artsyfartsy biz of yours going and how can you not starve.

            143_ask_show071208-copy

            Now is the perfect time to start paying attention to those mysterious folks who buy that stuff you make. While you are on the road start to look closely at who these people really are? We call that, getting to know your target market, demographic or audience, but for now we’ll just refer to them as those nice people who buy your stuff and keep you from starving.

            So what has to happen to get the ball rolling so we don’t end up in a card board home? Well, those nice folks

            • Have to find us
            • They have to like us
            • They have to have some dough to hand to us

            Getting to know them…

            But that’s just the beginning… so get up and talk to some of those folks milling around your stuff. Treat’em like long lost friends especially the ones who have some of your stuff in there hands. Talk to them about their day, their lives, their families, where they live. When they are gone write some notes about them… what do they have in common.

            • Are they moms or grannies?
            • Are they mostly looking for gifts?
            • Are they young couples looking for handmade wedding gifts

            This is the best excuse to people watch! My favorite way to do this is to try to guess people’s stories and try to figure how that story helps them decide what they buy, or where they go etc. When I was doing the art fair circuit I often myself doing this when someone entered my booth. An important key to this working is to pay attention to your intuition, most of us can feel the energy from people and can often Know if we have something in common. So…

            • What is that lady with the sun hat and water bottle slung across her neck likely to buy or not?
            • What’s up with that mom all tangled up in kids … is she looking to pamper herself?
            • Do you think that bored guy with his wife is going to buy anything that doesn’t have horsepower as a key feature?Or is he secretly looking for her birthday present?

            What’s their story?

            Now, after you have spent the second day observing and taking copious notes try to summarize what you have learned, are there any trends?

            • Where do the people live, in the city, the country or…?
            • What do they tend to do for a living and how much green do they bring in?
            • Are they parents with young kids?
            • Are they childless couples?

            These are the things you need to know to get a feel for who your ideal customer might be. Knowing this helps you know what is important to them, how they think, and what they might need of yours so you can spend your time in your studio focused on making the stuff that they are most likely to buy. And having stuff that the right people can’t resist will be one step closer to not starving.

            Finally, once you have a good collection of characteristics, peronality, values etc. give this collection an form…name her. After you have named her then write a story about her, what does her life look like, what does she do with her time, what does she think, who are her friends, where does she hang out? Giving her form helps you visualize her so you can easily see her when she walks into your booth, gallery or shows up on your web site.

             

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            14 ways to come home empty handed

            Regardless of how or where you sell you stuff you may be unconsciously causing folks to move on down the road. Because, even though they really want to buy your stuff there is something getting in the way, so they leave your booth, your gallery or your web site. Well what’s the big whoop about that?  Turns out a lot, because you are not only losing that one sale you are likely also losing any other potential sales from that customer just because of that one bad experience. But it doesn’t stop here that person who really, really wanted to buy that thing-ama-jig from you is more than likely going to tell her friends about her experience so you’ll also lose them as potential customers.

            So what follows is a brief list of some of the things you might be doing  that could be losing sales for you.

            no_seller2

            1. Hide from customers, look bored, read a book.

            If you are not willing to get out and meet your buyers they will likely think:

            • You are not friendly and who wants to buy from an unfriendly person;
            • You are bored in which case they will wonder why you are there in the first place;
            • You are independently wealthy and don’t need their money so they’ll just go elsewhere with it;

            2. Have a secret automatic reject button

            You may not know it but you might have a couple of automatic rejection buttons hanging out somewhere. These are things about you,about your booth, your gallery, etc. that  are invisible to you but serve as automatic barriers to people doing business with you.

            It could be:

            • The smell of that funny meat you are secretly cooking behind your booth;
            • The gallery you are in may be in the second under basement right next to the boilers and steam pipes, and you thought it looked “artsy”;
            • Your stuff is scattered helter skelter all over your booth creating a confusing mess
            • Your kid may be playing Lil’ Wayne’s latest and gettin’ down with some kool dudes clearly disinviting potential buyers

            3. Only offer buyers one way to buy your stuff

            No way are you going to give those credit card companies any of your money because you want to keep every cent. Or maybe you just take cash because you don’t want to take the risk of a bad check.

            4. No seal of approval

            There is no evidence that you are anything more than an itinerant street seller and hence no indication that you are trustworthy or that you care. This  really mostly applies to web sales since there are still a lot of folks afraid of giving their personal info out over the inter-tubes.

            glas_ped5. No way for them to know if your stuff works for them

            There is no way for them try that sweater on of if there is there is no mirror. While that superly exquisitly glazed Raku vase looks all artsy on its museum white pedestal it does nothing for those folks who want help imageing it in their front hall.

            6. Your prices are not obvious

            Somewhere you heard that the secret to selling was not to have your prices showing well that only half way worked for the guys of Glenn Gary Glenn Ross.

            7. The benefits of  your stuff  is clear as mud.

            That potential buyer has no way of knowing if that funky painting or green pot will work in her house, so she move on. A simple description if you’re selling on-line, will do. If you’re in person let her see that the dress will great with her funky shoes.

            hold_down_booth8. Your booth, gallery or web site is not inviting or comfortable

            You booth or gallery could be to hot, to windy, to noisy or to smelly and who wants to be in that kind situation?
            Your web site is confusing with blinking lights and cutsy stuff that does nothing more than distract your buyers from purchasing…that stuff went out soon after the internets were discovered.

            9. Not easy for people to communicate with you

            There is nothing obvious that says “here’s how you can contact me”, so your buyers take that to mean you hang out in a card board box somewhere.

            10. The benefits of what you’re selling are not clear

            The thing, the what your stuff does for potential buyers, is no where to be seen… so they move on to something that they can see benefits them because it is easier that way. If you know your perfect customer, you’ll be able to describe all the muti-faceted things your stuff does, because she just wants to know it is right for her.

            11. There are no clear logical reasons to buy your stuff

            What ever the reason is that people should buy your your stuff  is missing, and so they move on to the next guy who can tell them that his what’s it will give them eternal happiness making their lives infinitely easier and more enjoyable.

            12. No evidence that other folks liked your stuff

            There are no pictures of raving fans describing the wonders of working with you and using your stuff. They need to know that others loved and adored your stuff and thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread…so let them see already!

            13. Have more than one call to action (especially internet sellers)

            Your sales page on your web site has a bazillion different choices for your buyers to make so many that they just get all glassy eyed and leave with out buying

            14. See your customers as the enemy

            Everything is locked up, with triple case hardened pad locks and chains connected to you ankles…ain’t nobody going to steal your stuff!! Oh and you don’t answer no stinkin’ questions either!!

            Before you go into automatic freak-out mode, you need to realize that some of these things may be workable for you. The deal is you need to find them and decide if the consequence is acceptable. So you may hate talking to customers the result maybe fewer sales and that can be OK as long as you know it and accept it. You may feel shy about tooting your own horn even just a little bit, the result may be fewer folks knowing about your stuff…again that’s OK as long as you are willing to live with the results.

            So how do you find out if you have a secret mine field causing you to lose sales? The easiest and best ways are to ask people, especially if you are selling on line. Put a survey on your site with just a few questions, if possible have as part of your shopping cart check out system. Another really good way is  to bribe some of your friends to be secret shoppers making very clear you want to know about their entire experience especially the hang ups and glitches.

             

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            Marketing Monday: Back to the Future

            Since we are doing this the sensible way and getting all  of our ducks in a row before we  even crack the ballroom door we need to shift the time -space continuum and put you there with your new found outlook. If you just went ahead and blasted your way into that room obsessed with finding somebody anybody to dance with you may or may not have had the results we envisioned when we took a time jumped to get you all fixed up and ready to go. You likely would have been working from the Fonz’s playbook and started strutting you stuff like peacock, and we know you really aren’t a peacock.

            Continuing to operate as if you are a peacock will really only guarantee that you attract people who like peacocks and we know how that story ends. So its really best to ditch the feathers and just be yourself because that’s what’s going to get you the best result. See, to really have the best longest lasting results you have to be real and you have to know that vision of who it is you are looking for right there in front of you. In fact, without being to whoowhooey, if you name that person, and can describe that person it is very easy to move to calling up that person’s presence. In other words, if you keep her in your mind when you enter that ballroom she’ll know you’re there and turn her head just to confirm it.

            Who,What….no where

            Let’s take this back to reality now and translate it into you actually sitting at a show, hosting an opening, or describing your latest creation on your blog. When you know and can recognize that special just right customer you’re more able to talk to them as if you have known them forever. And that my friend, is the best ice break ever because what you have done is acknowledge who they are, in the process you’re opening the door and welcoming them in to get more acquainted. They are more likely to join you if you know their name and in turn know what they need. In marketing language the process you have just initiated is called (drum role please) your “who & What”, which is you naming who “gets” your art and why your art is for them.

            So…for example, as a painter  your W&W might be: “I bring color into people’s lives by creating bright and energetic landscapes using a mix of acrylics, and other mediums.”  Or as a photographer mine is ” I help people capture their life stories through visual conversations”.

            Keep in mind not everyone will hear you or recognize you, it may take several encounters before you are recognized as having what they want. Remember the dance… it took her several looks before she wanted to see what it was like to dance with you. You had her attention and in order to keep her attention you have to make the time with her about her  because she wants to check you out at her pace. Is this starting to sound familiar? It should because you are building trust here right now, but it goes beyond just trust. She wants to know if what you have to offer is worth her time and energy, if not she’ll just move on.

            Support, Patience and Grace

            At this stage you only want her to be open to the possibilities of a relationship with you, like going on an actual date, that’s all…no marriage,no moving in together, just a date. Don’t forget though that you do have an ultimate goal of her becoming your SO (significant other) and for that to happen, she has to feel that its’ in her best interest to get to know you better. Until she knows this, she will move at her own pace and may likely become resistant because you are ultimately wanting her to move out of her comfort zone.

            In real world terms this part of the courtship is about support, patience, and grace. Your customers need to know that you support them in their time and space by patiently and gracefully understanding their need to move at their own pace. Once, they feel the warmth of your support they will start to be more open to recognizing the common outlooks the two of you share which in turn make them more agreeable to a relationship.

            Where’s Waldo

            We have come a long way but we’re not done yet. Yes, your time spent on the W&W was extremely helpful and eye opening but you still have to tweek things a little more. Even though you know their names, you really have to find out more about them as people so you can find them and they can find you. The ways to for this to happen are limited because success hinges on communication, and visibility. You have to know where they hang out and what language they speak so you can not only be visible to them but also, heard.

            As an artist one of the best ways to be both visible and heard is to have a place that can serve to spread your word and that place now is a blog, coupled with social media tools like Facebook and twitter. You can also add, teaching workshops, giving talks to community groups about art both activities will build your credibility as someone to do business with because you are giving value with minimal investment on their part.
            Sometimes straight but usually Crooked

            Crooked or straight you’ll still get there

            Finally, it is important for you to understand that the sales/buying process is not necessarily linear and it doesn’t move at any preset pace. Even more important you need to understand that before anyone can decide to join your tribe, give you permission to send them stuff, they need to trust you. This is the point  where you work on building that trust so they can see your value enough to agree to move closer to being one of your loyal fans.

            If you take anything away from this it should be the importance of letting go of any attachments to time tables, sequences or out comes. By doing so you will be free to  let the notion of your perfect customer complete with their needs, develop organically, which in the end will lead to a more solid mutually supportive relationship.

             

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