The more we help each other, the more we all sell. Feel free to print this page.
My website is Your website!
Tags are a necessary item, make them as attractive as possible. Don't use white string. I use gold quilter's thread on my coffee scoops. You can use Microsoft Word to make quite nice tags. On stoppers, tie the tag on the stainless steel just above the first o-ring rather than on your design.
The tag on the scoop has a full description including the type of wood. The other little tag says "Woodturning by Ruth Niles" on the right side, folded in half with price inside, a small hole for the thread. Download the card format.
If you use my bottle stoppers, feel free to take any wording from my site to promote them. People understand FDA approved kitchen-grade solid stainless steel with a lifetime guarantee and they understand it will cost a little more. Most also love to know your item is 100% made in America.
Have a sign saying these stoppers can be used for oil and vinegar cruets, bath oil bottles as well as wine bottles. Have an olive oil bottle with a stopper in your display, not everyone asks questions; people will get the idea and maybe even think of other uses which means more sales.
Show customers your work in progress, using pictures, Judy Kingery shows how her bowls are created from a chunk of wood. It also shows why your work is priced more than Walmart!
Many libraries, banks, community centers and visitor centers have monthly displays in their lobby or entry hall. See if you can either do a display or contribute to one. For example; the local Extension Service was having a "Native Trees of PA." display at my local library. They had books, pictures, a few leaves and some bark from each species. I offered to turn small items from each wood. Every library patron saw my work with my name for a month. The library advertised the exhibit including my turnings..... free advertising!
At Craft Fairs, after your booth is set up, walk down and around another isle and observe booths that attract your attention. Don't look at what they are selling, rather how the display looks to you as a customer. As you approach your booth, try to see it as a customer. Things to consider; color and openness (welcomes browsing), extra stock stacked in the back rather than on or under a table (too much to look at). Also consider moving a few things around in the afternoon, items previously overlooked might get someone's attention. If the customer doesn't see something to attract them in 5 seconds, they walk on by.
How many times do you hear "I'll be back"? This is a "be back" tip: take one of your business cards and write "10% Discount" on the back for the customer that almost bought something then said they would be back.
Hotel gift shops and airport gift shops are an excellent venue as many travelers love to buy a gift from where they are traveling. "Handmade in Dallas, TX" (example) on the tag makes your item the perfect gift.
If you make bowls, vases, etc., check with fine furniture stores. They have rooms arranged with desks, bookcases, etc. A glass artist in Utah does extremely well with sales in this type of store. Your work is not competing with a lot of others and people can picture that art piece in their home. Also they are not price shopping between artists doing the same work.
Make an "exclusive" design for each specialty shop. They will promote their very own exclusive design. This would not apply to consignment or gift shops. For example, I do my apple stopper for a local winery that is in the middle of 100 acres of apple orchards. I told them I would not sell that design to another winery within 50 miles. If you have 4, or even 15, wineries within 100 miles, that is a nice number of "exclusive" designs to sell.
Some unique bottle stopper sales opportunities for creative thinking!
Other vendors are not necessarily your competition, you compliment each other. If a customer asks if you make bowls with purple elephants, say, "No, I don't but there's an artist in aisle 4 that does. You can mention I sent you" and give them your card. If you have time even walk the customer to that other artists booth and point out the items. If you just say, "No, I don't make that", what reason have you given that customer to remember you? And that other artist may just get a request for something you make that they don't and will send people to your booth. Also that customer will stop at your booth every show and bring a friend to meet the nice person that helped them.
Home builders might like to give their customers a nice salad bowl or wine bottle stopper made to match the kitchen cabinets. The glass artists can offer stoppers to match the color scheme of the home. Stone workers can make a stopper from the kitchen counter material.
John Schick of OH did these stoppers to match marble counter tops.
If you have a website, try to link with fellow artists, vendors and collectors. Don't add links just to have a lot of them. After going to a few irrelevant links, people move on to another site. Your links reflect you and your art.
Try gourmet kitchen shops or flower shops that make gift baskets. They can sell your items separate or make a gift wine basket or gift bowl with flowers that will be used long after the flowers have died. You probably won't sell a lot of items but it is another venue. Remember, market your stoppers for oil and vinegar cruets as well as wine bottles.
For your booth at a show, tie a stopper to a bottle of wine with a fancy ribbon. Put a small sign saying something like "wonderful way to give an heirloom stopper to a favorite wine lover." Using the word "heirloom" suggests future gifts and adding to a collection.
Make a "pair" of stoppers, same design one light, one dark or one taller and promote as gifts for couples. Wedding gift, anniversary, engagement or new home gift. You can also make sets; stopper and bottle coaster of the same wood. For glass artists, a bottle stopper with glass tags with the same color pattern.
Terrific gift by Michael Pierceall of AZ
Pair by Ferris Reynolds
This is from an article in Crafts Report. "Make what the customers want to buy." Sounds simple but a lot of woodturners (for example) make items that are "woodturner's challenges" but not really practical for the average person. Take a small trinket box, a vacuum-type fit is impressive for the turner but the user has to lay the items down and use two hands to open the box. They want to pick up the lid with one hand.
Have an empty wine bottle and vinegar cruet in your show booth so people can see how nice a stopper looks in a bottle. Remember, there are people who don't drink wine and might just pass by but if you show them other "bottle stopper" uses, you will get another sale. Many designs are more attractive in the bottle than either laying on the table or in a display stand with a dozen other stoppers.
For example; I make a door-knob shape stopper that isn't exactly an attention getter in the display but when people try them in the bottle, they look nice and are very hand friendly. It's a quick, simple design that you can add cabochons, coins, buttons, inlays, etc. on the top to create unique or individual designs.
If you do wood stoppers with a wood display stand, paint the stand white. Each stopper will stand out more. Too much wood on wood can be distracting.
If you work with wood, have a "process" display; a square blank, a partially turned bowl, box or anything you make. Have a few tools, too. You know you are going to be asked "How did you do that?" Showing, rather than just describing your process will impress and help make sales.
Brad Sears sent this tip: When a patron asks for a discount, simply tell them you appreciate their offer but cannot accept it. Tell them your work is very fairly priced given the skill required for its creation. Say it with a smile both on your face and in your voice. Be positive and upbeat; don't go into materials, time or anything defensive. Responding that way projects an image of secure success and people like buying from successful people. Remember you are not necessarily selling to the person in front of you but everyone within hearing range.
A great suggestion from another artist; try to have vertical displays with hanging items, things people can see at eye level as they are walking past. Have a folding "wall", 3 or 4 boards hinged, put a small shelf or two on each "wall" and put a sample of your best work there. This is a "directory" of your work.
Give the customer a reason to buy your product by giving suggested uses. "Popcorn bowl" "Over the fireplace art" or show dried wheat and grasses in a vase or hollow form. The first thought a customer has is "what can I use this for" to justify the purchase.
There is a void in the wine world, namely a display for the artistic bottle stoppers in the home. People keep them in a drawer or on a shelf in a cabinet. Have a stopper with its own little stand. Design a stand for 2 or 4 stoppers for that person you gave the idea to start a "bottle stopper collection"! If you make wine racks, create a curved or an arc on the top to hold a stopper collection. *The door knob in the picture below is a bottle stopper!
I read this marketing tip in an article by Michael Kusek in Crafts Report. A great suggestion was to call the person at your local newspaper who covers the arts. They are always looking for articles about what, when, where and how of local artists. If they say no, you haven't lost anything, at least you tried and they may come back for your story in the future.
Think outside the gift shops and craft shows; go to wineries and tasting rooms with wine accessories like the stoppers, bottle coasters, glass tags, etc. Have your work where the wine people shop. One customer sets up his stoppers when his local library hosts a wine tasting party or "Wine and Greet" where the library has a guest author. A percentage of his sales is donated to the library. That's free advertising plus potential customers.
Look into etsy for sales and customer recognition at shows. Etsy is listed on google in "shopping" and that's extra traffic to your website and etsy page. You might want to try Facebook, too.
The following are pricing suggestions and theories that successful craftspeople use.
Do not under-price your work. Most people know quality; handmade items made from quality materials are going to cost more and they will last longer. If you price a $55 item at $40, people will always think it's worth less but you have to make money and will think it's worth $30 with a $40 price tag. If you price it at its real value of $55, people may think its worth $50 but $55 is fair. Pricing is a little about psychology: ie, years ago I had a fabric shop and a Small Business counselor was helping/teaching me about retailing and prices. When we see $43, our brain thinks or goes to $40 but when we see $44, our brain goes to $45. This is a little difficult to explain ......but it works.
Do not reduce your prices the last day of a show. If your work is worth $100 on the first day, it's worth $100 on the last day. If someone pays full price and comes by your booth at the end of the show and sees the price reduction, first he's going to feel cheated and second, they will wait until the last day to buy at future shows. Prices should only be reduced on items that are out of style or that you will no longer be making.
When a customer asks "why is this so expensive?" Do not take it personally, rather tell them why it cost more. It's made from exotic wood; the detailing takes hours; the product comes with a guarantee, etc. This is showing respect for your customer. This is also where a work-in-progress piece helps show the details and work involved.