Have you ever wondered how you could steer more buyers your way as they flood into the streets the first morning of a show or how you can get more buyers into your gallery show? More importantly I am sure many of you have wondered, just like me, what drives that mob to roost, what causes them to choose one artist over another?
The traditional method of drawing buyers has been to stand out in the crowd, to be obviously different than your competition. As working artists we thought it made sense and that our work made us automatically different enough to catch the eye of potential buyers. We also assumed that our competition was others in our medium, other potters, other jewelers or fiber artists and all we had to do was stand out among them. But the truth is many of us were just guessing…we really had no clue how to stand out we just knew we made something in a particular style that no one else did. Further more what we did do was done within the context of a randomized buying model, sales depended largely on a potential buyer “stumbling on us” and liking what they saw. We resigned ourselves to relying on unpredictable sales patterns and subsequent unpredictable income.
While show sales seem to becoming even more random there are some things you can do now that will help. So lets take a step back and see just how you can stand out and even more importantly what the secret is that will allow you to become a beacon to very focused and steady buyers. There are really two parts to this process:
- Knowing your market
- Knowing what differentiates you from your competition
We have talked extensively about knowing your market so lets take a look at the second part… what makes you different or in market/brand speak what is you Unique Selling Proposition (USP). But first let’s get one thing out in the open…every, yes EVERY other artist is your competition especially those of you who follow the art fair circuit. No longer do you have the luxury to think that you compete only with those in your medium.
We are also going to assume that you already have a vision of your business, you know how your products compare with alternatives and you know who is the best fit for your products. Typically, big businesses rely on a process of defining key points of differentiation based on such things as product, service, market, the problem solved etc. While these are certainly important and should definitely be part of your process they are not primary because of the Y-factor, that hidden element that only we as artists posses.
The very nature of our business is driven by us…without us there would be no business, no product and no happy buyers. The Y-factor is critical to your success, it will give buyers a reason to put you on their list, it will cause them to focus in on you with laser like precision. How well you cultivate the Y-factor in your business will be critical to your success and growth and could very well lead to you becoming a household name or not.
So…what is the Y-factor? The Y-factor is the YOU-factor, it is the sum total of how much your work reflects you, your values, your vision, how integrated your personality is in your work and how visible the package that makes up you and your work is. Once you can successfully tie all of this together buyers will be drawn to your work BECAUSE of you, because they see you and identify you and your work as one and the same.
So the secret to getting focused enthusiastic buyers who not only love and collect your work but also connect you with other enthusiastic buyers is:
- Recognizing the existence of the Y-factor.
- Acceptance and understanding of your Y-factor.
- Your ability to use your Y-factor to build a strong network of repeat buyers.
Now go back and review your vision, your perfect customer profile, the alternatives to you ( why a potential buyer would pick you) and try to tie them up in a package that represents you. Once you have that, brainstorm ways to make that package visible. Here are some suggestions:
- Take care of your ANTS especially as they relate to your own self image.
- Focus on how you display your work and how it can entice the buyers you want.
- Learn to identify those potential buyers who get your work and in turn get you.
- Learn how to develop communication links with your most enthusiastic buyers.
- Develop a sustainable list of contacts in every venue you are likely to show.
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