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Non-functional Pottery at shows - how to get the point across?

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cstovin    2

Thank you all....


@Frederick - thank you, the reason I feel I have to tell people or educate people on which pieces can be used for food, is that usually I only have horse hair or Raku pieces in my booth; then I have customers that are intending to buy a plate or something and make a comment "it will be great to serve my salad in"....


I don't feel morally I can sell something that isn't food safe to someone that thinks it is.  1) they won't be happy with my product   2) they might get sick


Then when I tell them it isn't food safe, they usually put it back.....


so, that is my dilemma!


thanks all!

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oldlady    1,323

make something that is clearly not intended for food.  yet, i recently heard a woman ask the raku expert next to me in a show "is this food safe?".   i did not hear his answer because i could hardly control my laughter.  she had taken the lid off a bowling ball sized spherical pot with a one inch diameter opening in it and was looking inside.

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MikeFaul    79


......she likes to just say "hi, let me know if there is anything I can help you with, or if you have any questions...."

Unfortunately that phrase (or its close relatives) is the first thng that any formal sales training you get teaches you to NOT use when dealing with customers. It invites the answer "Thank you.... but I'm just looking". And the psychology of that answer is that it moves the person further away from making a purchase. This is not my "opinion"..... but what is taught in countless professional sales courses.You want to first engage the potental customer with questions that they can easily answer, and lead slowly them toward questions that have suggested altrernate answers that relate to your work. Such as "Do you think the red one or the blue one works better"? Eventually you will work toward what are known as "trial closing" questions. Such as "Would the larger bowl or the smaller bowl fit better in your cabinet"? Two easy choices ... leading toward a commitment. The harder thing for them to say then is something like "neither"... or I don't want either of them".Then to the "closing questions"......... "Do you want me to put that in a box or a bag"? Note that BOTH answers there comit the person to buying.Get a book on salesmanship or take a class.best,..............john

I know this is an old post, but it caught my eye... Most people don't realize the power of asking questions, and most sales people don't ask enough. They are especially great if your shy, because the other person does all the talking. Ask more open ended questions, than close ended (yes, no, red, blue, 6, 7) at first, once they start talking filter in the closed ended questions.

Ask visualization questions like, which will "look" better? How do you set your table for...? These get people seeing your wares in a specific context and use. Imagine your best lasagna in this pot with the smell waiting through the house!


There was a study done years a go that showed when you ask a lot of questions you know so much more about your customer, that's sort of obvious, but the study showed customers who were asked a lot of the right kind of questions felt like they had a great conversation and rated the sales experience much more positive than those who received a speech. Because customers font understand the technical aspects of our work, the will glaze over if you try go explain it all to the, it's really not all that important to most, to some it is, but not to most. They want a pie plate to make pie, the idea it wax fireclay at cone x is largely an inside baseball discussion. Will it stain from blueberries? Can I put it in the oven? How do I clean it? These are the issues the baker faces, not so much is it fully vitrified...

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MikeFaul    79

This specific topic has been brought up before on the forum, I will state my position again too. It all depends on the type of work and the nature of one's business, but there are plenty of scenarios where offering discounts for volume purchases, and repeat purchases, is sensible and good business.


First of all, I don't think discounts are appropriate for one of a kind art pieces. Where sales are pricey, and seldom, and offering a discount on one sale has a wide ripple effect on the value of your other pieces.


But not all of us are making that type of work. I am making everyday ware, and hoping to sell them in multiples. I price a lot of work to sell them in pairs. i.e. $40/each or 2/$75. It's clearly marked for customers to see the value of buying two. I have thoroughly examined the time/expense factor, and know that I am satisfied with the trade off. It works for me, and I will continue to do it. This does not make me Walmart, not even close! At most of my shows, I am still competing with potters who are offering similar items for half the price.


As for repeat customers, these people are extremely valuable to a pottery business! It really pays to notice who they are, and to show them some gratitude somehow. There are many ways to do this, but I don't think a discount is out of the question. For me, there is no practical difference between this and a small freebie, in terms of setting the value of my time, and managing my customers expectations. Again, I am making everyday ware. For other types of pottery businesses, this might be different. One rule does not fit all.


I am currently compiling a short list of customers who have been unbelievably supportive of my business for years. They have always been willing to pay full price, and treated me and my work with complete respect. When I have my open house at the end of this year, I am going to write a personal note to each of them offering a juicy discount at my open house. I have no fear that they will respect me less, or expect discounts in the future. My plan is to offer this "excellent customer" discount every five years or so.


Yes I think there are wrong ways to do it too, such as a person who is so anxious to make one sale, they start offering bargains to anyone who shows a little interest. I've seen people do this, it's painful to watch. But I also remember how terrifying those early days are, and I don't condemn those who lose their cool. It takes time to learn. Also, I know someone who has a "sale" with substantial discounts on the same day every year, and now unfortunately it seems all his customers have learned to wait for the sale.


If you offer discounts too broadly, and to any customer, then you are devaluaing your work. But if you do it with a lot of thought and selectiveness, it can be very beneficial.



There are some great points here... I have been toying with a similar qty break idea in the form of a place setting price. It would work sort if like this...


Pick any four pots to make your own personal ace setting for $XXX.XX, that could be a dinner plate, pasta bowl, salad plate, and mug, or swap out the salad plate and add a tea cup, or tea place the pasta bowl with a deeper stew bowl... Make it personal for one flat place setting price.

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nancylee    30


I had a shop in a tourist area, it's different, but I had a pretty good sales rate of people walking in the door and then buying. Over 7 years, here's what I learned:


1.always greet them if I can, even if only a quick "Hi!" I don't get in their space at first. Every time I say, "Can I help you with something?" they almost always say, very quickly and emphatically, "Just looking!"


2. I generally say, "Welcome to my shop/booth! Have you been here before?" (This can mean at the show) If they want to talk, and you will know, then I'll ask where they are from or if I like something they have on, I will ask them about it. Introverts actually have an advantage in sales, as they don't like to talk about themselves. So ask them about themselves. Remember that you are dealing with humans, not just a wallet. Right???


If it is a group of ladies, I just greet theming see. Mostly, they want to talk among themselves, but sometimes they are fun, and want an audience of you. If I am not busy, I will play.


3. I generally try to be busy with something so I don't stand and hover. People HATE hovering with a passion. They HATE you watching them. It smells desperate and puts their guard up. Even if I am just pretending to arrange stuff, I look busy, and give them a casual, "give me a holler if you need anything! !" In a cheery tone with a smile, like I am not hat concerned with them buying something. I don't like the high pressure. They are going to love something and buy it or not. I know there are leading questions you can ask, etc., but I don't think most artists are cut out for that. I know when people do it to me, and I get squirrely and want out! If nothing sells over repeated shows, then I need to study the market and change what I make if I want to make money.


4. If you can be busy making something easy, pottery related, that is awesome! People love to see your work in action. Make it simple, so they can see you can drop it to help them. I might string Windchimes and beads, something like that. Be comfortable doing what you do best: creating.


I find it painful to go to art fairs. I pick up on people's emotions very easily, and most artists look absolutely tortured and miserable, standing there near their work. Some look like they want to cry, putting on abrave face. I ache for them. I've been there, desperate, as a shop owner, and I can relate. That is why I say bring something to work on. Did you ever notice the busy booths have lots of lookers? It's partly crowd mentality, but also that people can browse without being pressured. Low pressure, work on something that makes you at ease, and be open to change if all else fails.


My 2 cents!


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