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Mark C.

Get Your Customers Addicted To Your Pottery

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I was on the phone to one of my out of state customers who busted some dinnerware plates while riding home on her bike (always a bad idea to take ceramics home on a bike from a show)

She remained me that she and a lot of my customers are addicted to my pottery. I had the same story today at my pottery booth I'm running every day until xmas in town. A customer  today said she to me she is addicted to my pottery .

How does this happen?

I think in very simple terms make a great product sell it reasonably and make it very available ,that is do the same shows and have local access to your work. Slowly over time you will get customers who only get your work and they know where it is and how to find you.

It will take years but it will pay off.Some of my customers only buy my work from me personally though its all over in outlets-they want to deal with me directly.

Thats the best feedback you can get as a potter. The user of the forms as they give you the best advice on how and what works.

So get your customers addicted to your pottery.

The only downside is its hard to slow down in later years as they expect you to always be there for them.I'm in this situation now at age 63.

 

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So true. I really struggled down in Texas but I still have a clients in Montana from 31 years of selling there. It is amazing to me after 10 years of being gone,but I continued showing in a few places like the Yellowstone Art Museum and faculty events at the University during that time. I have had many replies saying welcome home. So nice.

Marcia

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It will take years but it will pay off.

I want to highlight this short but crucial sentence. It really does take years. The customer doesn't become attached until they have used your pots in their home for some time. The attachment grows when they learn that you are consistently accessible when they need more. And that the experience of buying from you is fun and makes them feel good. I am starting to understand this. In recent years, I have noticed growing number of customers who seem to be addicted to my pots.

 

Many newcomers become discouraged when they aren't an overnight success. There's no such thing! Just remember, if you're doing something that can cause a big audience to fall in love with you overnight, they will forget you and fall in love with somebody else just as fast. A solid customer base takes time, consistency, backbone, time, quality, integrity, time ....

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Many newcomers become discouraged when they aren't an overnight success. There's no such thing! Just remember, if you're doing something that can cause a big audience to fall in love with you overnight, they will forget you and fall in love with somebody else just as fast. A solid customer base takes time, consistency, backbone, time, quality, integrity, time ....

 

 

I ran a business for 30 years and found that it took me 10 years to become an overnight success.

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 A customer  today said she to me she is addicted to my pottery .

 

 

 

 

It will take years but it will pay off.

 The attachment grows when they learn that you are consistently accessible when they need more. 

 

High end commercial pottery is successful because you can add to it.  My first (and only) dinner/tea/tableware was available by the piece.  I didn't have to buy a 4/6/8 piece set and then be stuck if I broke one.  I could buy extra pieces one at a time for many years and even now, when the design has been discontinued for over 25 years, I can still buy "nearly new" pieces from china collectors and now ebay.

 

Mark C epitomises customer service in my mind.  He is what every functional wares potter should be aiming to be.

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Guest JBaymore
 It really does take years.

 

Amen...and Amen. 

 

So many students think that they are going to "set the world on fire" the instant they set up their studio.

 

Guaranteed frustration and likely failure.  ("You want fires with that?")

 

best,

 

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

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Chilly Wrote : High end commercial pottery is successful because you can add to it.  

 

This is probably the most important thing I have read and thought about in a while. I never really thought it mattered until I started thinking about buying nice pottery then wondering if I could get a replacement plate or cup later on. It has changed my outlook drastically. I went from wanting to create one of a kind things to making things that are unique but part of a set even through they might not be exactly they same they are close enough that they seem to be. I haven't sold or started selling any of this new stuff yet as this is a new outlook I have developed in the last month or so. 

 

However I have decided to commit my next year towards finding a style that I can make and be happy with. Sort of like what Mea does. All the same beautiful tones, but very different and unique at the same time. I don't know if any of you have ever tried it, but its a lot harder than it looks or sounds. 

 

It all sounds so simple. I will just make pots and sell them, but when you want to do it for a living and really make a living there is a lot more to it. This comes with time. 

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I don't do sales. My wife and I gave some mugs/tankards out last year to friends. One of my wife's friends very well off dropped over last week and gave my wife $1,000 and mentioned that her husband will not drink out of anything but those mugs hinting she wants more of them. My wife said I need to make some for them. This is perhaps the best thing that has happened. It is amazing what people will pay for when the have the means.

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It will take years but it will pay off.

I want to highlight this short but crucial sentence. It really does take years. The customer doesn't become attached until they have used your pots in their home for some time. The attachment grows when they learn that you are consistently accessible when they need more. And that the experience of buying from you is fun and makes them feel good. I am starting to understand this. In recent years, I have noticed growing number of customers who seem to be addicted to my pots.

Many newcomers become discouraged when they aren't an overnight success. There's no such thing! Just remember, if you're doing something that can cause a big audience to fall in love with you overnight, they will forget you and fall in love with somebody else just as fast. A solid customer base takes time, consistency, backbone, time, quality, integrity, time ....

 

 

 

I needed to hear this so badly right now.

I've been making for many years, but only selling professionally for 2. They are 2 different skills. This year's Christmas season was very disappointing, and the devil that is comparison to others reared its ugly head. I spent a bunch of time wondering what it was I was doing wrong, and wondering where my audience was this year. I am reminded I am still building it. I need to build my business skills the same way I have had to built my clay skills.

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I have been in my own studio, selling for 4 years now.  I think this was the first year I had a cohesive group of pots.  Not matching per se, but coordinating to the point of being able to mix/match.  Some bowls and mugs with designs on them, some with glazes that were complimentary to the design work. Plates/trays with designs...... It seems to have worked for me.  I am all but sold out. 

 

In order to be able to replicate patterns, I have been careful to photograph everything, and sketch things out and make notes of underglaze colors. This is  the first time I have done that!  Usually I am moving on to the next thing.  So I am not too interested in repeating work. 

 

It has taken me awhile to get to this point.  My brain was in so many other places.  And.....I know that I have just begun.  There is so much more to learn.  I really do value the advice and experience of all you all!  It has made it seem less scary. 

 

Roberta

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It will take years but it will pay off.

 

 

 

 

I needed to hear this so badly right now.

I've been making for many years, but only selling professionally for 2. They are 2 different skills. This year's Christmas season was very disappointing, and the devil that is comparison to others reared its ugly head. I spent a bunch of time wondering what it was I was doing wrong, and wondering where my audience was this year. I am reminded I am still building it. I need to build my business skills the same way I have had to built my clay skills.

 

 

Hi Callie,

 

Sorry to hear your sales were less than great this season. I know you would have been prepared for that but nothing sucks worse than sitting at a market after working for months and have only a fraction of the sales you normally would have. 

 

Yes, the Alberta economy has really been hit with the oil sands slow down. From what I’m reading on the finance sites there isn’t a lot of expectation of prices increasing anytime soon. That being said I’m wondering if you could concentrate on increasing on-line sales? The rest of Canada isn’t being hit the way Alberta is. I don’t know the intricacies of selling online to the US but our weak dollar would definitely be a plus in your favour there. Just a thought.

 

 

Keep your chin up.

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Thanks Madeline. At least my fellow vendors could commiserate! It hit everyone this year. Going forward, I'm going to be more consistent with my social media posting, and getting a newsletter out every month. I started preparing an etsy update yesterday: Photo session tonight after the kids are down. It's a bit late for Christmas, but even a oouple of sales would be nice there. And I've got plans to try and get into a Banff shop in the new year, and maybe send some more stuff to Bancroft-Snell in Ontario. Where there's a wil...

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A few points that maybe where overlooked but matter a lot

It takes years to build up the customer base-my 1st decade was blip on the radar screen. You cannot expect this to take off like a wildfire.

I have developed my market for 40 years locally thru direct sales  at local fairs as well as outlets-shops galleries,Bagel shops. I expanded that market big time into other places I travel to as well-I started traveling seriously in the 80's

these have been but not limited to:

Denver,Col

Seattle <Wa

Tempe,AZ

Davis,Ca

Half Moon Bay,Ca

Anacortes,Wa

Boulder City ,Nv

San Francisco,CA

Gilroy,Ca

These are large art show locations that I have done or years-most over 20.

I built them up buy going to same shows there every year for decades over and over as the customer base grew.

This takes a lot of energy and determination . You pack up the van and hit the road for a week-the show may be a 3 day drive one way-this was my life to get to this point.

Its not for everyone-it helps if you are a type A person. Also a person who is good with people.

I'm not even talking about the wares here.The work is awhile other subject.

I have walked away from many of these long build up distant markets as I got older and am more successful locally as well as being smart with what I have made already with pottery in life.I no longer want to drive 2400 miles to a show-do that for many years-I do not need to anymore.Those customers now e-mail for work or travel to see me elsewhere .

I'm down to three only of these locations for 2017.

The 1st decade I made what I like to make-I discovered that people bought my other stuff more than the stuff I liked the most. Thats when I got it . Make what my customers want-pots that work well and are not paper thin-pots that hold up to everyday use -pots that are very strong

pots that the glaze jumps out at you. My earthy brown stoneware was not those things-My porcelain work was outselling my stoneware 2 or 3 to one.

I just let the stoneware go about 1985 and concentrated on porcelain and bright glazes.

Looking back the 1st 10 years did not even count.Sure my throwing skills got better as well as kiln building but sales wise it was very tough. The school of hard knocks-you learn or it breaks you. 

I know this is hard news for some but its my story.

Now it's xmas and most are done with their show or whatever but I'm here to tell you I'm selling every day and the next week will be the best week of the year. Thats why after 38 years I'm still having my pottery booth in a shopping center-The best xmas sales are now until xmas-you miss the boat if you finished already.

My outlets are selling very well this season and I make deliveries almost daily right now. You have to be ready way ahead with inventory to do this well and as I said its not for everyone. Nobody likes to work this hard I'm told by my friends ( I do not have kids or a xmas life other than selling pottery)

Economic conditions come and go-I tend to do best in downturns but also hold well in upturns as I am priced right.

December is always my biggest month-its also a ball buster of work-it starts in October and now its like a run away train-firing kiln load after kiln load-opening the booth every day and keeping 7 outlets fully stocked .It all ends x-mas eve at 5 pm-thats usually the best day. Most are doing other things  like sitting around the fire or wrapping gifts not selling pottery.I work the booth myself mostly that day as its a nut house with men standing in front of the pottery booth looking like deer in a headlight tossing bills at you.

I am lucky as I live in a climate that all my show sales (shows and my xmas booth) are outside (under an huge overhang) I have not done an inside show in many decades .

My outlets do all my interior selling for me.

I'm more motivated I'm told but this is what to takes to be super successful in this field.

I started just like everybody else at the little sales behind a small table selling two pots wonder what the heck am i doing here. Its where you choose to go from there that will determine how this works out down the road.My shows started slow and after doing them for 20 years they took off and its been a great ride but its work a lot of real work. Do this day I feel so lucky people pay me to work in my studio.

It does cut both ways though so consider that as well. I was throwing up until the 15th just a day ago.Seems someone bought all 3 dinnerware sets and I needed 14 more large plates.No rest for the weary.

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Started at 6 this morning and just turned out the lights in the studio but will spend another hour or so getting ready for a show this weekend. Great day, had fun. Right back in the studio on Monday, 4 day show coming up on Dec 29 and another mid month then rinse and repeat the next month. My sister and brother in-law  are going to join me at the RV site on New Years eve after that days sales end and then I'm finishing the show the next day, new years day and you guessed it back in the studio on the 2nd. 

 

Building a business means there is always more that can and should be done.

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