There are a few things about this whole recession thing that artists need to be aware of and use to their advantage.
1. Ignore the fear
Everywhere we turn we hear about how hard things are and mostly about unemployment levels.
This is not the first recession we have had and the present will not last forever.
You are self employed and as far as the Bureau of Labor Statistics is concerned you don’t exist.
In tough times people naturally migrate to safety, and innovation and creativity goes into hiding. What is left is blahhhhh… people hiding in a cave shaking in fear of the world outside…those people in the cave are your competitors. These guys were marginal in good times because they didn’t have to be remarkable or outstanding, so…
Be different, don’t play it safe, be sexy, be exciting, show how wonderful you are and how that makes you the best business to buy from. Put some wackiness into your differentiation, make those things that your work does for folks who buy it fun.
If you are not the whacky type then do the opposite of fear. Show your customers how your work can comfort them, or bring them joy, because they want to feel unstressed and in tough times they want things that will help them be unstressed. Be their comfort food we all have times when we want to treat ourselves usually as a reward for doing or making it through something…be that reward for your buyers. But don’t just be it tell them, look at your work from that point of view. This shouldn’t be hard for artists because we specialize in comfort, in reaching a little deeper into the soul, we are comfort food and we need to tout it.
2. Keep in touch with your roots
Your regular customers are your roots and as long as you keep feeding them they will be there for you because (as I have said before) they already know and trust you and they may even like you!! Also, you needn’t limit yourself to just old customers, re-connect with old friends or family…who knows, they may have new friends who would be delighted with your stuff.
Opportunities exist everywhere and you never know what may happen if you re-activate that old friendship…maybe that person has become best friends with a famous person, or their business needs art for their office. That’s the thing about networks…they are all different and they all reach different kinds of folks.
Have many different ways for people to plug into your network, for them to join your orbit, use a newsletter, doesn’t have to be weekly but it does have to be REGULAR. Give them the chance to hang out with you, because to them you and what you do is magical, instead show them your humanness.
3. Don’t be an android
Tough times always, always increases people’s need for human interaction, recognition of their humanity helps to reassure folks and gives them comfort. Boom times led to alienation, robo calls, confusing automated customer service systems that lead you down a rabbit hole and make you pull your hair out!
Little things matter
Even tho you can send out an e-mail to 100 people with the click of your mouse make it personal don’t just say “Hello (blank), thank you for buying our product blah, blah, blah”.
If you must automate at least change Hello to Hi and use the code for pluging in their first name, then tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them etc.
- Send them handwritten card within a week of their purchase
- Follow it up a month or so later with another one or an e-mail asking them how they are enjoying what they bought
- If their purchase contributed to you being able to do something that would help them or other buyers tell them and thank them.
- Create a buyer of the month by honoring your buyers each month by posting some photos or video of them talking about how they are using your stuff.
- At the end of the year hold a drawing for a prize…not only do people like to be honored and recognized they like to win stuff also!
4. Put yourself in their shoes
People always have questions kniggling at them when they are contemplating a purchase and even more so now. Find out what they want to know, maybe they want to know if your pots can be stuck in the dishwasher, or if that fabric will shrink. The key here is, to imagine what you would like to know about your stuff to make you want to buy it…Even more what would you need to know now to give you permission to buy that thing you are drooling over.
Ask some of the folks who already own your stuff, ask your grandma or your Uncle Bob what goes through their mind when they see your stuff. Then come up with answers to either guide your conversations or to add to a hang tag or whatever…use your imagination, but answer the questions. And don’t stop there, pay attention and always be adding to the questions and answers.
5. Give some guidance
During boom times people don’t worry to much about choices they just load up on whatever strikes their fancy, in tough times …not so much. People will shy away from to much choice during tough times… so give them a little love by helping them out. They want to make sure what they are buying will add to their lives in some way.
If you are selling stuff on line don’t load up a page with every dodad you make, give them one or at most two options and share how those options can give them comfort, joy and peace. And let them go, they may not buy that high priced thing now, but they may later so give them a way to do it, by, you guessed it, moving them to a point that will let them into your orbit so they can come back when they want and will remember that thing they decided to wait on.
6. Join forces
Team work really works in tough times and also in good times to, but there is more time for it when things are lean. Many industries, photographers like me do it all the time, find other businesses that offer complimentary things and support each other. So for example, if I photographed families and their pets, I would team up with Vet clinics or Doctors offices. They get the benefit of my photos on their walls and I in return get access to their patients.
This could work well with groups of artists who often show up at the same show by
Creating coupons good for a slight discount at each other’s booth with each purchase from yours.
Making a game of things buy offering a prize for the person who buys a certain amount from each of you.
Or….something even more imaginative, just draw on your collective creative juices.
There are many ways to use this time to your advantage and you’re limited only by your imagination and willingness to try something different, or…you could just continue with the same ol’ same ol’ and complain that nobody wants what you have.
The universal truth about tough times is that it separates out the serious from the not so serious…which will you choose to be?
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