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DMCosta

Repeat Customers

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Hi Everyone, Happy Holidays!

 

My question is this: How do you create your repeat customers? I find that no matter how many emails I write, postcards I mail, and "future show" advertisements I give out, I rarely get repeat customers. Whether it be on ETSY or a craft/art fair, my repeat buyer percentage if very very small.

 

What have you found particularly successful in making that first time customer a repeat customer?

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I try to do the same shows and get the same location-booth spot each year. send e-mails with some pics of new work about a week before the show to people who bought from me before.  Lots of personal attention to buyers needs at shows.  a store location I send show attendees to for additional purchases after the show. I'm in a small area, there are many drawbacks to that as far a shows go, but people tend to remember me more since there are not many potters here.  My work is sort of identifiable. People can pick mine out from shelves in stores.

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I find I get a fair number of repeat customers. Not sure why, but it happens. I do not do emails or note cards. I do list my shows/events on my website. I also include a list of shows/events with each purchase -- and some folks have said they used that info to come to another event. If an upcoming event provides me with cards, I'll stamp them with my info/booth number and include them in the bag with purchases. I also tend to request the same spot at an event -- unless the location is really bad. My line of work at shows/events is also fairly specialized . . . ikebana vases, vases, etc. that customers buy for themselves and as gifts to others.

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My repeat customers is what I feel is my success. I do not send e-mails or communicate with them. I post my shows and outlets on my website.

I am almost always in the same spot at a show.

I only do the same shows over and over-the customer base builds up that way as well.

I sell a well made product for reasonable price which keeps folks coming back for more-this is my key to return customers.

Mark

Chris Campbell likes this

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I agree with the above responses, there is a marketing component and a product component.

 

Marketing: I also try to do the same shows every year, and if possible get in the same spot. I put out a sign-up sheet and I collect lots of email address that way. I send out an email announcement for every show.

 

Product: my pottery designs make a whole lot of sense to buy in multiples. Someone starts with two bowls, decide they like them so much they find me later and get six more. Then find me again later for a matching serving platter. And so on. I have quite a few customers who are slowly replacing everything in their kitchens. The pieces need to be attractive, but more importantly, highly functional and easy to use.

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A lot here also can depend on what  kind of work you make.

 

For certain types of work and certain types of customers...... lots of repeat buying is possible.  For some other situations, that is less likely to happen even with customers that LOVE your work.

 

For example, if you are making something like $20 mugs for tableware use, the likelihood that a particular customer will purchase multiples of you pieces within short timeframes, and then replace them over time as "nature takes its course", and also buy some as gifts for friends is relatively high.  This results in frequent purchases in somewhat short time frames.... what a lot of people would call "repeat customers".

 

But if you are making pieces that are really high ticket items and maybe are more sculptural, the number of those that a single customer will purchase in a lifetime is likely more limited.  They are likely more of a "collector" of such work and at a certain point they will have established a good collection of your work..... and will move on to other's work for expanding their collection.  Every now and again... they will pick up a new piece of yours...... as your work evolves...... to keep the collection broad and fresh.  These people too are "repeat customers" even though they may not buy from you very frequently.  Because of the price points.... there is likely limited opportunities here for them to buy a piece as a gift (bit it can happen).

 

IN the first case.... you might sell to that person multiple times every year.  In the second it might be a single sale every year for a couple of years.... and then only one sale every few years.

 

Like everything in ceramics... the answer to this question is, "It depends".

 

best,

 

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

bciskepottery, DirtRoads and LeeU like this

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I have a ton of repeat customers--the key word for me is "niche." :) Thing is though, my pottery is quite different than most, because its best selling point is the illustration. My customers tend to be animal lovers, so that's my niche. What are you really really good at? Do you advertise that you are willing to do custom orders? People like one-of-a-kind, made-special-for-me kinda stuff! ^_^

 

I guess my advice sucks...I'm just going by my own experience, hehe! :D

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I pretty much just sell on Etsy.  For that, I use the coupon code you can set up that Etsy emails to people who have purchased from you in the past.  This has brought customer's back to my shop.  I also post regularly on social media of what I'm working on.  Most people who buy primarily online are likely to follow you on social media.  I think customer service is really important as well.  I check for emails and convo's from customers several times a day and try to respond right away to their requests.  I get things shipped quickly, and resolve any issues right away.  

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I tried getting some images or info on your work but you don't have any links or images in your profile.

... Hint, hint .. Maybe over the Holidays??

 

It's hard to tell without seeing your work ... You could be in a niche of 'one time purchase' or it could be almost anything else from pricing to color choice to decoration to uniqueness.

Also, it takes time to build a customer base ... mine took years but others might have built theirs sooner. I use the word 'built' on purpose because it does take effort to collect a mailing list, do shows year after year, service galleries etc.

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Hi Chris, I do have a personal website and ETSY page if you'd like to check it out. You can click my ETSY page from the link below as well.

 

http://www.dmcosta.com

 

Thank you everyone for your responses, they were helpful! I think to have postcards of upcoming shows can definitely help. I think I also need to be patient, I've only been doing craft fairs for two years or so. Unfortunately, a common "theme" here on Long Island that I find fellow handmade crafters complain about is a lack of "appreciation of handmade items". Us crafters here tend to hear the "I can get this cheaper at home goods" comment all too often. Sadly, most people I know don't even have one handmade item in their homes. Everything is bought from store chains which we have within our fingertips here. I did do one fair in the Hamptons area and I found that to be more successful.

 

These are the things I currently do to promote:

*Advertise my craft fairs on my website

*Have a personal and ETSY webpage

*Collect e mails from buyers, and email them about upcoming events

*E mail ETSY buyers coupon codes after a purchase

*Accept custom orders from March to December (due to lack of heat in my studio during the cold winter)

*Advertise on social media (especially for upcoming shows)

 

If you think there's anything else I can add to this list...let me know!!!

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I looked at your etsy page and would say that your work looks very sale able.

My one big comment is in your choice of color. Unless you are very attached to these hues I would encourage you to switch to current popular colors. Look at the Pantone site, the catalogues from upper end stores etc to see what the color trends for 2015 are.

You are in a market where this makes a difference. These people want to look current ... They want the piece to match their home. They care about this.

I'm betting your sales will increase with this change.

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i looked too and read your statement re inspiration.  i think the bright colors are great for an accent in today's bland, boring, brown color schemes.  but that means ONE ACCENT piece.  a shocker for the middle of the road conservative who needs to be one of the crowd.  it would be too much for them to use more than one.  (yeah, i know about 3.)

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...I've only been doing craft fairs for two years or so. Unfortunately, a common "theme" here on Long Island that I find fellow handmade crafters complain about is a lack of "appreciation of handmade items". Us crafters here tend to hear the "I can get this cheaper at home goods" comment all too often. Sadly, most people I know don't even have one handmade item in their homes. Everything is bought from store chains which we have within our fingertips here. I did do one fair in the Hamptons area and I found that to be more successful.....

 

In our experience with small local craft fairs, we've found that we tended to do better at those fairs that have had a long history as opposed new upstart fairs (think "27th annual" vs. "2nd annual"), and that the "demographics" of the community served by the fair make a big difference (as you observed with your experience in the Hamptons). Even within one town, different fairs (put on by different organizations) will attract different clienteles. Some fairs may allow "resellers" while others are "juried" (guess which one you want to be in).

 

We've also observed differences between the craft fair crowd and the art tour/open studio crowd. Other advantages to the open studio events are that you might even be able to get some work done (throwing, trimming, whatever), and there is no packing the car and unpacking the car ;).  We're part of a local art tour that runs their event the same weekend as a state-wide open studio event, with several participants involved in both, hoping to get some cross-pollination, as it were.

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I agree with Tim Allen about the differences between fairs and shows.  It can vary a great deal.  I am still new enough to the circuit that I try different venues to see what will be the best fit for me and my work.  So I am still learning, and I also agree about shows that have a long history.   That definitely factors in.   When I started pottery at a community studio 8 years ago, I heard from ALL the potters there that our little community did not support the arts.  I have NOT found that to be true.  I have found that you need to create your own opportunities for showcasing and selling your wares.   You have to get a feel for your community and for what they are interested in.....but I realized this holiday season that I do have a fan base.  It has taken 3 years to build, but I do have people who are looking for me and my work.  Along with that comes responsibility to provide a well made product, but it is worth it to me! 

So yes I have repeat customers and because I am still in the early learning stages, I change up what I am making all the time.  One customer told me that she can't wait to see what I am going to do next.  Now, believe me, I hope to someday settle on a style that says Roberta.  But until then I am having a great time!!!

My marketing consists of my business page through FB, emails, a couple of times an ad in the paper, and twice I have sent out postcards.  But I change that up all the time as well.   Perhaps that is my ADD! :D

Roberta

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Look at the Pantone site, the catalogues from upper end stores etc to see what the color trends for 2015 are.

Chris, no criticism intended, I thought this was such interesting advice that I went to check the Pantome color of the year 2015: Marsala, as in dark wine or rust colored blood. I just thought, all those 'brown" potters are stepping up production and cheering!!! Too funny, if one believes this to be the color of the year for home decoration, clothing and nail polish... who thinks that color will last into warm weather?

 

Someone is getting paid way too much money to "set the trends", me thinks.

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you are all probably too young to remember the really AWFUL colors about 1985-6.  i was transferred to manhattan and wanted to buy suits in conservative colors and styles.  the colors that year were mustard, turquoise, olive or military green and some really disgusting rust.  i could not find anything i liked.  later i heard an interview of the "taste maker" who was asked why he had picked those colors.  he said he just wanted to see if women were the sheep he thought they were and would they really buy anything as long as it was in fashion.

 

thrift shops have some really nice things, fashion be dampped.

Rae Reich likes this

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Look at the Pantone site, the catalogues from upper end stores etc to see what the color trends for 2015 are.

Chris, no criticism intended, I thought this was such interesting advice that I went to check the Pantome color of the year 2015: Marsala, as in dark wine or rust colored blood. I just thought, all those 'brown" potters are stepping up production and cheering!!! Too funny, if one believes this to be the color of the year for home decoration, clothing and nail polish... who thinks that color will last into warm weather?

 

Someone is getting paid way too much money to "set the trends", me thinks.

 

Yep, make a glaze the color of the year and watch your work blend right into the background of the wall colors! Seriously, is that what we want to make?

 

Many of my customers seem to prefer a color palate that allows them to use a vase or container in any room . . . regardless of color scheme. They may want to repaint the walls or hang new drapes every year to be current, but they don't replace all their belongings. Be a sheep and follow Pantone; or set your own path and identity.

drmyrtle likes this

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I have had the Pantone discussion at least a dozen times over the years.

The trend starts years ahead with the carpet, paint and furniture people. Then the large manufacturers of home wares take it up ... None of this happens by accident. They all co-ordinate it so you can just happen upon the placemats that perfectly match your dishes. Same with the clothing and shoe people ... These colors are all pre planned.

So ... The choice is yours to go with it or to stay with your own colors. YOUR choice.

But information is power. If you don't particularly care about the colors of your pots ... Say you care more about form or function ... Then what difference does it make if you just happen to have popular colors?

Makes me crazy when I hear potters say they don't make anything in blue because it sells. REALLY? I cannot think of any other sane business person who would stop stocking things that sell.

Of course, I sold my soul years ago because I checked Pantone for the years ahead so I could be ahead of the trend rather than chasing it.

Rae Reich likes this

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Personally, I just make what I am driven to make, and then I find the people who also love those forms / surfaces / colors.  What we do is mostly already about niche markets....... so I've never felt the need to chase the more "mass market".  And I pretty much sell just about all that I can make in a year (the good pieces, at least)....with some slight variation year to year.  And as I get older (and smarter), I deliberately make less and charge more.  Makes it easier on the body ;)  and the equipment.

 

I don't tend to make blue pots because I simply don't like large amounts of blue on pots.

 

But the opportunity to take advantage of all that market research and consumer conditioning is available for the people who want to go for that.  If that stuff didn't work..... the more commercial sector would not put all the time and resources into doing that stuff.  If that stuff works for you.... go for it.

 

Did you ever notice that you can tell the year to about at least the decade by looking at the predominant COLOR of the cars in a photograph....... you don't even need to see the styling of the cars?

 

best,

 

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

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Chris, does this mean that my wine-burgundy, burnt red pieces that I can't move this year, (and it is my new favorite glaze) will sell in a few years since it is the color of NOW and in the South where I am we are 5 years behind?  Restaurants here have just now started using square plates!

Chris Campbell likes this

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Hi Dianna

 

Would be most interested in hearing more about you social media strategy?  Most importantly, how do you track your results?

 

I am a big believer in Facebook advertising, so I am always interested in hearing about how other people use it.

 

Thanks

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I feel the odd man out 

I do the same shows always and get the same spots always

Facebook is not my thing as I feel its not what I want to go there . So I choose not to advertise there

besides all the talk about media campaigns remind me of the Battan Death March or worse yet some politics I want little  to do with.

My web site shows where I'll be and they always know as its been the same for so many decades now

I may be old fashioned but I gotta say its been working very well-I sell them a quality pot with a business card in the bag and I get 40% return customers more on the shows I have done over 20-30 years.I will do a show this year that will be 42 years since inception for me-I have many regulars and its 10 minutes away.

The only high tec will be taking visa on my smart phone not thats blissful

Mark

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Hi Red Rocks, as for Social Media I have my own personal and business Facebook pages and use it to advertise upcoming shows, newly listed items on Etsy etc. I get new customers e mails and e mail everyone about upcoming shows and events a week before. For my Etsy customers, I message them after the items are received to ensure they are pleased with the items and follow-up.

 

At shows-I write what sells, which colors they are, and their prices.

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