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Isculpt

What Do You Do To Make The Customer's Buying Experience Fun/rewarding?

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Isculpt    96

In Mea's post, "Why is Our Work Better than Imported Work", she wrote "handmakers can surpass mass-producers in the following areas: quality and buying experience. People buy my somewhat pricey pottery because it is better in terms of functionality and attractiveness. And I make sure the experience of working with me is fun and rewarding."

 

What I'd love to hear is how Mea and others make the experience of buying from them 'fun and rewarding'.  Marketing is something many of us have only vague ideas about.  At its most basic, marketing is selling, and we could all use help with that.  I've read lots of posts about providing nice packaging and using varying heights and spacing to display work at a craft fair.  But I'd like to hear some creative ideas and techniques for making the buying experience meaningful, or fun and rewarding, for the customer.

 

Jayne

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bciskepottery    925

I use live flowers in my vases, ikebana vases, etc. And, that has really made a difference. First, customers touch the flowers to see if they are real; then they figure out there is water in the vases. So they see the item working -- and can better imagine the item in their home. And, once they figure out they are real flowers, they start asking about the vases, how long do flowers last, etc. Customers have said seeing live flowers vs. plastic ones makes an impression on them. You don't need fancy flowers; I buy a bunch of carnations/mini-carnations at the local Safeway (usually on sale on Fridays, too).

 

I also make a series of leaf-platters/plates; on those, I put some potpourri and a battery-operated tea candle (okay, first thing kids do is touch the flame to see if its real; and sponsors appreciate no live flames). Again, a small touch that starts the customer thinking how they could use the item at home.

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clay lover    133

When I started with fresh flowers, my sales jumped.  Some time I use fresh greens from the yard, especially in the fall.  Road side blooms , Queen Anne's Lace, they look great with the pottery.  I will sell the piece with the flowers, switch the flowers to another vase, and that one will be the next one that sells and so on.  I move a bunch of flowers over and over all day.  Keep a small bucket and paper towels close to empty and dry the vase.

I have had women paying for a pieces , look over and see the one I moved the flowers TO and change their minds and want the one that now has the flowers in it that HAD JUST BEEN in the vase they THOUGHT they wanted.

I make butter dishes, and I cleaned a paper butter wrapper and cut a piece of Styrofoam the right size, wrapped it in the paper wrapper and use it, sells them all every time.

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GEP    863

My number one most important rule for my behavior during an art festival:

 

Make every single person who walks into my booth feel welcome, and glad that they did.

 

This is easier said than done. Art festival work requires some advanced people skills. You cannot fake being comfortable with people, you need to BE comfortable. Festival artists are "on stage" to some extent. Your booth must give off positive happy energy, and it needs to come from you. For 6 to 8 hours straight per day. And again, you can't fake it. It needs to be genuine. I credit my years of teaching, this is where I developed my ease with talking to people, including total strangers.

 

This does not mean I am talkative with customers. I do make a point to greet everyone, but I do not engage in conversation unless I sense that it's appropriate. When needed, I have plenty to say about my pottery.

 

When somebody leaves my booth without buying anything, that's ok with me. And I let that person know it's ok, with a "bye" or "thank you." The fact that they walked into your booth means they liked your work. If the visit was pleasant, there are lots of sales to be made later. But if you burden someone with your disappointment, that person is gone forever.

 

When somebody makes a purchase, I will make sure that they know how much I appreciate it. And then there's another level to this, when customers become repeat customers, I make a point to learn their names and recognize them as repeats, and show my appreciation.

 

Overall, the "fun and rewarding" part is that people get to meet a friendly and happy potter, who clearly loves her work, and made them feel glad about going to the art festival.

 

The really hard part is there are so many reasons to sink into a negative mindset at a show. If you want to succeed at this, you can't. I also visit and shop at lots of art festivals, and I'm afraid too many artists are falling short on people skills. Shyness and insecurity are very common. So is arrogance (ugh). So is desperation (double ugh).

 

The worst example I ever overhead .... the artist in the next booth, upon receiving a nice compliment from a customer, responded with nasty sounding "Well I'm really glad you said that because I'm having a terrible show!" Gee I wonder why???!!!! Can you imagine how awkward that poor customer felt?

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Chris Campbell    1,088

I agree with Mea's post.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is your booth layout. It takes a lot for a person to commit to entering your booth space if it looks like a dead end with you at the end, staring at them. Make your set up open ended so they can easily move in and out without feeling trapped.

 

Have your work clearly priced, have contact cards available.

 

Once someone enters your booth area it means they like what they see. Bruce Baker ( a noted specialist on selling crafts from booths, Google him. ) would say that at this point they are yours to win or lose. :ph34r:

 

As Mea says, a smile and a hello works wonders.  If they stay a while you can offer to answer any questions they might have ... then leave them alone until they actually ask one.

 

If they keep on looking for a while, it could mean they are looking for a reason to buy or maybe just don't know how to start talking to an artist. I sometimes will say," Which one do you like best?" or " What do you think of that shape/color?" Just something to start the next phase of the conversation.

 

It helps a lot to stay out of their way ... keep busy in the booth, keep smiling and moving around inside and outside the booth.

 

If they leave saying they will be back, make sure they take a business card with them. They probably will not come back today, but they might next year.

 

HUGE turn offs ... hovering artists who wont leave them alone to look, bored artists who ignore them because they are reading a book or messing with their phone, artists talking to each other booth to booth, complaints about the show, complaints about the weather, artists eating smelly food in their booths and angry artists looking generally annoyed. :angry:<_<:(

 

I know, it's hard to believe someone would actually PAY booth fees to sit around killing their own sales. They also like to roam from booth to booth trying to find others to complain with, so watch out for them and send them on their way with a polite " Sorry, but I am working here." :rolleyes:

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williamt    13

Hi all.

Good suggestions here. I like the flower idea. I will offer that adding inexpensive wooden spoons, etc to a utensil holder or a ball of yarn to a yarn bowl also works wonders.

 

A story from a consumer point of view that might be appropriate.

I was at a medium local art show and needed some ironwork, so I walked around and found 3 people doing this type work. The first I approached and asked if he did custom work. He did. I started talking with him about my project. At that point the second blacksmith wandered up. I said hi. Then the first guy just blew me off and stuck up a conversation with his blacksmith buddy and both proceeded to ignore me. I think I just stared, said something like "guess you aren't interested" and walked off. The third guy seemed somewhat interested but I could not get him to engage.

 

I ended up going to another show and talking with the folks from the Memphis Metal Museum. They showed interest took my info, followed up, helped me with my design, worked through a couple of iterations on paper, and made some work that I will be proud to display and made a pretty good sale in the process.

 

I will let you add your own moral here :)

 

Lee

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clay lover    133

I find I have as much trouble with other non-busy venders who are wandering around looking for something to do , since their wares are not selling.  They drive me nuts.  I want to say, " Hey, bub get out of my both so I can have the sales you have run off from your booth."  

 

But, I have also had the shopper from hell.  I can still see her face.

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JBaymore    1,432

Chris already mentioned him...... I took a selling workshop from Bruce Baker probably 25 years ago..... if you see him presenting in your area....... well worth the bucks. 

 

best,

 

.....................john

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Roberta12    135

I am with Mea in that 20 plus years in elementary education taught me how to be "on/performing/"   So that is what I do at a show.  But I also genuinely like people and the things I make.   I have had customers comment that I seem to really enjoy what I do.  Apparently those things are communicated to your customers.  I also use fresh flowers, battery candles, candy....I made fudge one year and gave that with the purchase of a tray (I had waaayyyy too many trays!)  OMGosh the Styrofoam butter idea is GREAT!!!!  I hope you don't mind, I will borrow that one!

 

I have a friend that will help me with the big shows.   We were slammed at one of the Christmas shows.   When there was finally a break in the crowd, we looked up and the vendors that were across from us, had literally blockaded themselves in their booths.   They never stood up, never looked up, never engaged in conversation.  Most of the vendors at that show commented on how down their sales were.   I hit an all time high for me.   I truly feel that your spirit and love for what you do makes a difference.  

 

I also do not get upset if I don't make a sale or have record breaking sales.   I have not been doing this all that long, so I chalk it up to a learning experience and make note of what is and isn't a good venue and what people like and don't like. 

 

Things that I am working on for this year.....better signage (going to get a banner) better job of getting business cards out there (thanks Chris) and better display set up (going to make some shelves that break down easily).  

 

Roberta

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Chris Campbell    1,088
I find I have as much trouble with other non-busy venders who are wandering around looking for something to do , since their wares are not selling.  They drive me nuts.  I want to say, " Hey, bub get out of my both so I can have the sales you have run off from your booth."  

 

 

Bruce Baker would tell you to be blunt and get rid of them with "Excuse me, I have a booth to take care of."

Ditto with other potters who want to grill you about techniques, glaze formulas, firing temps etc., while you watch customers walk away. Be they vendors or attendees you gotta get them moving on because they are hogging your valuable time. I have never had one of these buy anything from me so you won't be losing that sale either.

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clay lover    133

Chris, the people that are the hardest to deal with for me are the buyers that sort of know me, at the local show I do, that always will end up making a small purchase, but want to 'visit with me ' and other friends they find in my booth.  My lay out is open ended, and a double, but still it is a small space and they are standing in front of the wares so passers by can not get in or see what I have.  How do I get them out of the booth with out having to go out with them when they have not yet made their purchase, or after , when they won't go one somewhere else?  Might add, these are people with no social awareness, they won't take a hint.

 

The other group that I struggle with is the group of friends strolling around together, coming in the booth, and then standing and talking among themselves about whatever, not looking at pottery, blocking the way in and not buying anything.  They will see someone they know in the booth shopping and come in and glom over my shopper and often, I loose that sale because of the distraction.  Small town here, everyone sort of knows everyone.

I have trained my partner to take her buddies that come by and get out of the booth.  That took years

 

Roberta, google  sevilleclassics for shelves.  I put them on top[ of folding tables.   also  everconcept.

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Chris Campbell    1,088

Those situations are so painful! And you are so right ... hints do not work.

People are basically oblivious to anyone's needs but their own.

I just smile and say it right out loud  "You are welcome to chat, but could you just move over this way a bit so people can see my work."

 

Worse by far are the folks who stand OUTSIDE your tent chatting and catching up with the last year of news ... with strollers and parcels and purses and bags and husbands and children and whatever ... totally blocking access to your booth in the public area. You watch people try to get around them, hurry past you and know they will never be back.

 

Better IDEAS anyone??

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JBaymore    1,432

 

Worse by far are the folks who stand OUTSIDE your tent chatting and catching up with the last year of news ... with strollers and parcels and purses and bags and husbands and children and whatever ... totally blocking access to your booth in the public area. You watch people try to get around them, hurry past you and know they will never be back.

 

A "No Loitering" sign on a pole in front of your booth? ;)

 

best,

 

........................john

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GEP    863

The situation is easy when it involves people you don't know. "Excuse me gentlemen, would you mind having your conversation a little further out in the street? Right now you're blocking the entrance of my booth." Nobody's feelings get hurt. It's trickier when it's someone you know and don't want to insult. Lucky for me, people who know me well understand that doing shows is my job, and they treat it respectfully. Sometimes I'll see someone who I WANT to catch up with, and I'll say "let's stand over here to talk" and they understand why. The hard ones are the acquaintances who don't understand why they shouldn't gobble up my space at a show. This includes other exhibitors who are avoiding their own booths. If there aren't any customers around, it's no big deal. When customers are coming and going, it is really infuriating. My reaction depends. Sometimes it's a person who may be acting cluelessly but I actually do like them and still want to know them, I'll tolerate it. But I can be blunt when I think it's appropriate "Do you mind? I'm trying to work. I just missed a chance to talk to that customer." One time, while I was in the middle of a sale, a potter who I sort-of know, walked into my booth and straight into my "employees only" area and starting talking to me! I snarled at him, and just ignored him and continued talking to my customers. He left. I hope he felt awkward. In that case I really don't care if that person likes me anymore.

 

claylover, if this is the culture of your town, it will probably be really hard for you to change that. Start looking into out-of-town shows!

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Pugaboo    438

I did art shows for years and all of that can be an issue. You ignore, ask, cajole, chat quickly with then move on so they don't get insulted, but it never goes away entirely. Last weekend I did a small show and had someone next to me that was just there as a fundraiser for something not doing it for a living and that's all fine and good but a different situation than mine. They had lots of time to chat and I did when my booth was empty but when someone entered I would turn away and greet them, chat, do whatever it took so my customer knew I was there for them. The first couple times the other vendor just stood there and started up as soon as I stopped talking to my customer. I apologized for basically cutting them off in mid sentence but explained I was there to earn a living. Eventually they got it and would shut up and wander back to their area when I would turn to my customer.

 

At that show since it was the Saturday before Mothers Day I did up some vases and added fresh flowers to the vases. I sold enough to make a profit and I think I will continue to have a few vases with fresh flowers at shows. I did realize that the red flowers sold but not the pink ones ... So I am wondering if bright colored flowers will sell better than pastel?

 

I also had a lady want to buy a large plate and small plate set. I had 4 of these set up like sets in stands so they were on their edges. She said I'll take that set there if I can have the stand as well. I considered it for a moment then said yes I can do that for you. Made her feel like my giving her the stand was as important to me as it was to her. I had grabbed a bunch of these at Dollar Tree for a buck a piece thinking I would use them at shows and not have to worry if they got damaged and until she asked I hadn't thought that anyone would want a plate set WITH the stand! I only had them in stands as sets because it showed off the design on the face of the plate nicely from a distance. Kind of learned that tip by accident and will grab a bunch more stands when I go by Dollar Tree again.

 

I already make sure I give a little card with my contact info, website, etc on it with each sale and let them know if they ever have any questions to contact me. I would like to save up some $ to be able to get nice bags. Right now I am using recycled grocery bags which I really don't like. I moved a couple years ago and kept every piece of bubble wrap so wrap everything I sell in this and then the ugly bag... So does anyone know a place to get sales bags cheaply priced? I am thinking paper bags... Would love yellow or Lavendar but even a brown bag that I could then add a label to with my logo on it would work and might be cheaper than pre printed bags.

 

Terry

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Pugaboo    438

Chris,

 

Thanks! They have decent prices and it looks like I will be able to afford bags sooner than I thought.

 

Terry

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Mark C.    1,807

I say hello if If someone walks in if I'm not wrapping and in the middle of a sale-often when you are doing sales they just build ( the buzz of wraping and the line attract more)and one does not have time to say much as the customers just line up and If I'm alone I need to deal with each sale and get the line down to a few.I'm pleasant but focused-small chat but short is the key.

But if its slow I always say hello to each person-You need to be esy with people to suceed at this. Not to engaging but make some contact.

I also thank each customer for returning or buying from me. I have so many return folks many I know by name but mostly by faces.

I thank all who come in weather they buy or not.

 

As far as bags I carry three sizes the largest has handle and is large grocery size-I just but them at a wholesale grocer supply house .I use cash and carry out here on the other coast-smart and final also has these bags. I just booght a bail of each size and they where $91 dollars for the three bails one of each size bag(400 to 500 per-bail).I stock an extra bail on a huge rack as I go thru bags. This source is cheaper than any mail order I have found. Look for a grocery supply store near you.

These are just plain brown bags-I have used upscale bags but soon realized my customers cared not. They mainly want solid good pots -many shows I do they do not even want a bag as I am in more environmentally friendly areas and they have there own bag or pack

My last weekend show was just such a venue where I use about only 1/3 bags the other two thirds they just wanted a little paper wrap.

I put a business card in every bag when wrapping.Usually in the pot.

Mark

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bciskepottery    925

I would like to save up some $ to be able to get nice bags. Right now I am using recycled grocery bags which I really don't like. I moved a couple years ago and kept every piece of bubble wrap so wrap everything I sell in this and then the ugly bag... So does anyone know a place to get sales bags cheaply priced? I am thinking paper bags... Would love yellow or Lavendar but even a brown bag that I could then add a label to with my logo on it would work and might be cheaper than pre printed bags.

 

Terry

I get my paper bags and tissue wrap from Uline. Good selection of sizes and prices. http://www.uline.com/Product/AdvSearchResult.aspx?KeywordTyped=paper%20bag&keywords=Kraft%20Paper%20Bags%20

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clay lover    133

I get t-shirt bags in my deco color from U-line. and a stand to hold them like at the grocery.  Helps a lot when packing.  Very cost effective,, and not used and wrinkled with some other add on them.  I would ditch the used bags ASAP.

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TJR    359

As I have said before, if people don't see an obvious use for the pot, they won't buy it. I had a BUNCH of colanders/berry bowls this last sale. They are a bowl with handles and holes in the bottom[ in a pattern], and a matching tray.

Many people asked what the bowl with holes was for. On the Sunday of the sale, I bought strawberries, washed them and had them in a dark glazed colander, and also in a white one.

The colanders sold.

TJR.

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clay lover    133

I found some artificial bread and cheese at  big box craft store, they go on my trays along with a small knife.  I have put wooden eggs in small bowls, hard candies, candles on square trays, pretty soaps, ring of keys,  Once I set a place setting of napkin, silverware for a group of plate, sold them instantly!   I had been carrying them around for a year with no looks. 

People need help know the "WHY TO BUY" answer.

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PSC    54

Every time i add props to my booth people want to buy my props...i found this cute little pink toy claw-footed bathtub and put my soap dishes in it to display them...everyone wanted the plastic toy tub. Currently i found these 2 great wire bowls that make great ways to display my clay pendants...every vendor comes over wanting those bowls.

 

Funny story...i use these unfinished wood boxes to give my display some visual interest(can be seen in my avie) so i was selling this lovely mosaiced vase and had it sitting on one box on a shelf. A lady saw it and loved the vase and waited till her hubby caught up to her as he was in the previous booth buying wood art, once he got there she expressed interest in the vase and he ho'd and hummed. Finally he said "i'll take it only if i can have the box too...it makes it look important" So i wrapped up the $140 vase and the cheap unfinished wood box and handed it to them. The next week i was back at micheals buying more wood boxes lol.

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Pugaboo    438

Really great I ideas here! I had already been putting pencils, utensils, flowers in my items but had thought bowls and such were fairly explanatory but maybe not. I will buy some items to place in several of them and some wooden spoons for the spoon rests and such and see how that goes.

 

I have researched the bag situation and am getting ready to place. My first order of those. I looked around for a grocery supply store but I am in the middle of nowhere and there doesn't appear to be any so it's online ordering for me!

 

Terry

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