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#1 neilestrick

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 04:07 PM

Today I was reminded of how some of my customers have a very skewed and inaccurate view of my pots and my business. A customer whom I had not seen for a few years came in yesterday and asked if I had any yarn bowls. I don't make those, so I referred her to one of my students who does. While talking to my student the customer mentioned that she used to buy more pots from me, but she hasn't in a long time because I don't make interesting work any more, that everything is just normal and plain, but that she understands that I have to make what sells. Huh? After getting more details from my student I realized that the customer was referring to the pots that weren't mine that I carried at my former location. I used to carry the work of about 25 other potters, and she must have been one of the few customers that bought their work. The whole reason I stopped carrying other people's work was because 90% of my sales were my own pots and it just wasn't worth the hassle to deal with everyone else. So now I have a customer who may be telling others that I don't have interesting pots any more, when in reality 90% of them would prefer my pots.

Which reminds me of another person from a few years back, when I had all the other potters work in my gallery. She was a well known business person in town, with plenty of money, but who never actually bought a single piece from me. During a conversation one day she referred to me as "the expensive pottery guy". Huh?!? Now I know the pots in my gallery weren't priced like Ikea, but I didn't carry anything over $400, and most were under $175. Mugs maxed out at $35. It was functional work, so nothing too expensive. It got me wondering if she was describing my business that way to everyone she knew.

I rely heavily on word-of-mouth advertising. That and my web site have gotten me most of my customers. It always worries me when things like this come up, though. Any similar experiences out there?
Neil Estrick
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#2 Mark C.

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:31 PM

I have always thought some customers have odd ideas

I do not have a suburban hard brick location but have relied on 19 years of studio sales (last one was 1992) and 4 galleries and a dozen shows for sales. That said my pots are on the lower end of cost so that commenton to expensive does not apply. But dealing with the public is the same everywhere. I have heard for years various things from customers that reflect ageneral lack of understanding.

Some highlights are at a show a customer said all you potters are just one big factory all together right?

Can you sell this for xx as that guy down there sells them for less but they are ugly?

That potter with the really nice works wants to much for it-It looks like it’s a ton of work to do each piece

I could right a book on this type of stuff.

All we can do is do quality work and hope they get it. Some do, some come back (a huge part of my sales is return customers at show and galleries)

Some never to be seen again.

I would caulk this up to one persons misunderstanding and trust me there will be more.

Mark
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#3 neilestrick

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:55 PM

I love listening to customers talk at art fairs. I can't count how many sales I've saved by overhearing people discuss their totally inaccurate ideas about my pots and correcting them: They're hand made so they're not food safe. They can't go in the dishwasher. They'll blow up in the microwave. He won't ship it to your house. Yadda yadda yadda....

The worst part about both of the people I mentioned before is that they are/were both part of the local government, so they know everyone in town. I'll just keep on keepin' on.
Neil Estrick
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#4 Lucille Oka

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:49 PM

Today I was reminded of how some of my customers have a very skewed and inaccurate view of my pots and my business. A customer whom I had not seen for a few years came in yesterday and asked if I had any yarn bowls. I don't make those, so I referred her to one of my students who does. While talking to my student the customer mentioned that she used to buy more pots from me, but she hasn't in a long time because I don't make interesting work any more, that everything is just normal and plain, but that she understands that I have to make what sells. Huh? After getting more details from my student I realized that the customer was referring to the pots that weren't mine that I carried at my former location. I used to carry the work of about 25 other potters, and she must have been one of the few customers that bought their work. The whole reason I stopped carrying other people's work was because 90% of my sales were my own pots and it just wasn't worth the hassle to deal with everyone else. So now I have a customer who may be telling others that I don't have interesting pots any more, when in reality 90% of them would prefer my pots.

Which reminds me of another person from a few years back, when I had all the other potters work in my gallery. She was a well known business person in town, with plenty of money, but who never actually bought a single piece from me. During a conversation one day she referred to me as "the expensive pottery guy". Huh?!? Now I know the pots in my gallery weren't priced like Ikea, but I didn't carry anything over $400, and most were under $175. Mugs maxed out at $35. It was functional work, so nothing too expensive. It got me wondering if she was describing my business that way to everyone she knew.

I rely heavily on word-of-mouth advertising. That and my web site have gotten me most of my customers. It always worries me when things like this come up, though. Any similar experiences out there?


A customer once told me that I needed to have new ware. She had 'seen all of these pieces before'. So, I went back into the studio and made some new pieces. The next time she came by I let her know that I did them with her in mind. She was eager to purchase because I made new items at her request. You have half of the battle won the customer came to you to purchase. Just be sure to have something for her to purchase.

Your work is very lovely, your sinks are wonderful. A yarn bowl made with your etching technique in porcelain would be very elegant indeed.


John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#5 TJR

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 05:50 PM

this reminds me of a potter at an art fair


This very thing happened to me once at an art fair. The customer wanted to purchase a mug in green, not blue. I had Shino, Celadon, white with blue painting, and maybe even some Temmoku. I went home to my studio and set about to make and glaze some mugs in green glaze. Then I realized that the "customer" had looked around my space and had purposely chosen a colour that I didn't have because she wanted to get out of my booth without buying anything. Her excuse was; "I would have bought it if it was green," when really, she didn't want to buy anything. The next year, I would have come back with a load of green pots and she would say; "Do you have a mug in purple?" Good thing I didn't fall for this. Don't YOU!
TJR.

#6 neilestrick

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 11:24 AM

A customer once told me that I needed to have new ware. She had 'seen all of these pieces before'. So, I went back into the studio and made some new pieces. The next time she came by I let her know that I did them with her in mind. She was eager to purchase because I made new items at her request. You have half of the battle won the customer came to you to purchase. Just be sure to have something for her to purchase.

Your work is very lovely, your sinks are wonderful. A yarn bowl made with your etching technique in porcelain would be very elegant indeed.



First, thank you for the kind words.

The funny thing is that my current work is quite different from the work I was selling last time she was in. Different forms, and an entirely new glaze palette and method of decorating!
Neil Estrick
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www.neilestrickgallery.com

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#7 Lucille Oka

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 05:29 PM

Just hearing that you have new work sounds exciting.

Don't take offense at customer’s remarks but use them as brief evaluations of what you are doing. People say things for all kinds of reasons some helpful, some not. You’ll be surprised at what some of these remarks can spark in your creativity. If what was said doesn’t jibe with your work, let it go.

If your customers don’t know that you have new works then send out beautiful picture postcards announcing that you have new work available.

If you need to change the perception of your work it is time for a little ‘damage control’. How do you feel about signage? Display prominent signage stating your ware is lead free, microwave and dishwasher safe. When customers come to your display area they will see the sign and know that your work is safe. Put this information on your printed matter as well; business cards, flyers, etc.

I hope this isn’t too much interference on my part but your work merits having a good reputation.


John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life".

#8 trina

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 12:20 AM

I havent posted in awhile as i am out and about in the world, anyway saw something today that sort of relates to this thread. I was in a textile artists studio shop this afternoon and she was selling amazing woven scarves and shawls from anywhere between 100 and 550 dollars. My sister in law commented on how expensive they were. Then I pointed out a beautifully framed info sheet. It explained how much time it takes dye and spin the yard, thread the loom, make the pattern, do the work, pay the overheads and stay alive. It made the scarves seem cheap in comparison, and it really gave the customer the feeling they were buying something really really special. I am really considering doing something like this in my studio....T

#9 Basic

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 08:02 AM

I havent posted in awhile as i am out and about in the world, anyway saw something today that sort of relates to this thread. I was in a textile artists studio shop this afternoon and she was selling amazing woven scarves and shawls from anywhere between 100 and 550 dollars. My sister in law commented on how expensive they were. Then I pointed out a beautifully framed info sheet. It explained how much time it takes dye and spin the yard, thread the loom, make the pattern, do the work, pay the overheads and stay alive. It made the scarves seem cheap in comparison, and it really gave the customer the feeling they were buying something really really special. I am really considering doing something like this in my studio....T


brilliant observation and very helpful suggestion. The non potters of the world have no idea about the work that can go into what appears to be a simple vessel. Education is the key.i often remind myself that my work ends up in the hands of those who deserve to have it !

#10 GEP

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:04 AM

I just operate under the assumption that most people don't understand it, and banking on the small subculture of people who do. Just like others here, I spend a great deal time educating people at shows, it's just part of the job. I let the ignorant comments go. We could have an entire thread about "things we heard people say about ceramics at art festivals."

Mea
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#11 SShirley

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 03:08 PM

One day a lady came into my gallery, browsed for a while and then picked up a tumbler. She brought it up to the desk and asked if I could put a handle on it for her. Some people really don't get it.




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