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New here so Hello Everyone,

I just finished my 6th show this past weekend and I'm pretty happy with the results. This is the first show that people were actually seeking me out so I think its time to start a email campaign using Mailchimp. Luckily I've been collecting email addresses from the beginning.

I have another show coming up on April 4th and was wondering if one email enough or should I send a few. I'm considering the first one 2 weeks before the show then one the morning of. What do you think?

Also, suggestions on how to word the email would be helpful and would you add a picture? Of course place, time and date will be on top of the list of things to add.

All advice is welcomed

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I send one email per show, usually on Tuesday if the show starts on Friday. And on a Wednesday if the show starts on Saturday. Except when it's an extra important show, I'll send a "mark your calendar" email about the week earlier. 

I just finished one of those extra important shows. Here are the two emails I sent. All of my announcements follow the same template. Keep them consistent!

https://mailchi.mp/fdbe36b57c81/one-week-away-acc-baltimore-2020

https://mailchi.mp/75713f6ad290/acc-baltimore-2020-this-weekend

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This topic is one that has been coming up in other circles I run in lately too. I've  been working on an online marketing course that addresses the subject a bit more broadly, and I'm poking around trying to find some straightforward formula, but I don't have one yet and my background is NOT in marketing. It's something I'm trying to work out my own systems for as well. 

Recently I came across someone selling another course (yeah, I know) who is actually talking about things like setting up a welcome sequence with an autoresponder to nurture the list a bit when folks first sign up. The theory seems pretty sound (send a hello and a thank you and a little bit about you while the sign up is still fresh in their minds) and very doable, but again, this is also from someone who's trying to sell me something. I've set aside some time this month to try and build a simple and workable online marketing plan for myself because while I have a small list, I know I'm not using it properly, or even consistently. I know it's a tool that could be working better for me. 

edited to add:

I'll report back as I go along, and if anyone else is doing their own explorations, it might help to pool information.

 

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16 minutes ago, Callie Beller Diesel said:

I'm poking around trying to find some straightforward formula,

For me, it is fairly straightforward. Do it for every single show, and have your emails be consistent. Consistency is the key. It makes your business look credible. 

I think the harder part is collecting the addresses in the first place. A lot of people struggle with convincing people to hand over their address. The answer to this is much broader. It's about developing and presenting a line of work that is attractive enough for folks to want future opportunities to buy it. And making sure the time they spent in your booth is something they would like to do again. No straightforward answer to that. 

I also find that it helps a great deal to have a signup pad that looks a little more official than a spiral notebook. An email address is a sensitive piece of information. You need to give the impression that you are a professional who will use that information properly. Here's mine.

3723766_orig.jpg.4d3da11612988d68ce87faa4956c59de.jpg

244010_orig.jpg.8aa81676955cc7c37bedf993f1759a61.jpg

 

Also, if anyone advises you to use a gimmick to get people to sign up, don't listen to that. Such as dangling some free prize for signing up. You don't get real customers that way. All you get are people who want something for free. It takes more patience than that. Building a good audience takes many years. 

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I actually find the email collection part easy: as I’m closing the sale and wrapping pieces, I point to a written sign up list plainer than what you have there, and ask if they’d like to sign up for my monthly newsletter.  By asking customers who have purchased, I already know they’re interested in more of what they see in my booth. I will also offer the option to people who seem genuinely interested in my work, but who make it clear they won’t buy today. They will either say yes please, or no thank you. I have tried a monthly mug giveaway as an incentive, but it’s a nuisance and you definitely get the freebie hunters. 
 

I do struggle with consistency on sending out said newsletter however. This year’s goal is to work far enough ahead that I’m not leaving the communications stuff to the last minute and then not doing it because something else is demanding my time. Hence my search for a bit of a system. 

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I”m actually not in favor of pointing out the sign up pad, even to someone making a purchase. That doesn’t automatically mean they want more emails. They might be happy to follow you, but prefer to use instagram, or just check your website themselves.  A certain percentage of them will have been too polite to say no. Now they feel put upon, which is not a good experience. Some people are comfortable saying “no thanks” but some people can’t. And being put in a “no thanks” position is not a positive experience either. I just keep the pad in the check out area right next to my business cards. Sign ups need to be completely motivated by the customer, not pushed by me. 

Edited by GEP
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@GEP I too have a sign up pad with sheets that are the size of a business card that are placed right next them to the cards. If I see someone picking up a card I'll ask them if they would like me to contact them to let them know about my next show. Most say sure and I point them to the sign up sheets. BTW, your website looks great and thanks for the links to your emails.

The reason I was thinking of a second email the morning of I've has more than a few people say to me a few days after the fact that they forgot about the show. Of course it could have been a nice way of saying they weren't interested.

@Callie Beller Diesel I make a point of including a business card in the bag with each purchase and you gave me an idea, maybe on my cards I can have a link for them to sign up to receive emails.  I have to see if Mailchimp can has something available to do this.

 

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3 hours ago, Smokey2 said:

If I see someone picking up a card I'll ask them if they would like me to contact them to let them know about my next show.

This is still putting people on the spot, where they might be too polite to say no.

The only time I ever mention my sign up pad is when someone expresses that they don’t want to miss a specific show. I give them the website option first, followed by “if you’re really interested, you can get a reminder by email.” Maybe half take a card and half sign up for emails. 

I put a card in every bag too, but I don’t say anything about it. I do think it would be fine to say, in a no strings attached way, “my card’s in the bag, if you want to find me later, or sign up for my email list.” It should not be a yes/no question. Let the customer leave without making a decision on the spot. 

If you have a website, you can place a MailChimp embed form on it. So putting your website url on your business card is enough. If you’ve been to my website, there’s a page called “Mailing List” with embed forms that send info straight to my MailChimp audience. I get lots of signups during and after a show, even though I am not pushing it. People will use those forms. 

 

3 hours ago, Smokey2 said:

few people say to me a few days after the fact that they forgot about the show. Of course it could have been a nice way of saying they weren't interested.

They probably weren't interested. Don’t chase those customers. 

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I have a care card that goes in the bag with a little thank you blurb and all my contact info/social media, including website. I don’t have a pop up on my website, but I do have a couple of “sign up for my newsletter” buttons. They’re easy to install. I did get a few signups from that last year, but I got more from just pointing out my list. My typical speech, because language is important and I hate being salesy is, “I have a newsletter that I send out once a month telling people where I’ll be next. The sign up sheet is here, if you’re interested.” I usually do this as I’m wrapping, so it’s a casual mention, not a pressure tactic: I’m merely presenting information. If they’re not interested, they don’t generally pick up the pen.  Mailchimp is pretty easy to unsubscribe from, even if they do sign up out of guilt. I consider it a selling point. 

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Well, from the other side of the booth (i.e. as the shopper) I never sign up for anything.  Give me your web address (the card on the table, and in the bag, is sufficient) and I'm happy and will absolutely check it out. Then I may or may not sign up online for reminders/news-whatever. I am resistant to craft fairs/crowds and find them exhausting, even when they are fun and interesting and something that I chose to attend. I only want to talk to those artist/sellers who  I want to talk to!! I end up tuning out even the most pleasant "hello" by the time I'm going down aisle number four!  The more you bug me (try to nicely engage me), the quicker I leave the area--even skipping the next two booths--I am a tough customer! When I want something, I buy it, and more likely when you take your cues from me.  I move along with stealth but I don't miss much, unless you drive me away!! You might check out who is in the booth next to you and note if their demeanor sends people scurrying-right past your booth! It may be worth considering that there are more of my "type" out there than you'd think, in terms of being aware of your customers' vibes for interaction. Look at your booth set-up from the traffic point of view---I often cruise past & take note if I see potential-maybe I'll grab a card (be sure it's out front in easy reach) and then come back around when there are fewer people in the space.  Tho I rarely do fairs myself as a ceramicist (I only do them for fundraising events for local non-profits that I support) oddly enough, when I do, I do great and seem to be reasonably popular/well received---go figure! 

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Great thread with a lot good information with opposing points of view

10 hours ago, LeeU said:

It may be worth considering that there are more of my "type" out there than you'd think,

Actually I'm like you. Before I started doing shows I would never hand out my email address. To me many vendors sound like a barking carny side show. Something that would drive me away and something I don't want to be.

  @GEP  and @Callie Beller Diesel  Even though our wording is different it sounds to me we that are doing the same thing. First and foremost I am polite, pleasant and friendly. I'm not at all aggressive. If I sound like that its because of media we are conversing through instead of sitting across a kitchen table sharing coffee and cookies.  After 35 years in sales I know it important to make a prospective customer feel comfortable. People only buy from people they like and not always the first time they meet you. I also know you have to ask for the sale or to have them give up their email address. "

-------------------

To get back on topic when sending out an email what do you promote more, you or the show? 

 "Smokey's Handmade Pottery at XYZ Craft show"

  "XYZ Craft show featuring Smokey's Handmade Pottery"

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53 minutes ago, Smokey2 said:

I also know you have to ask for the sale or to have them give up their email address.

This is common salesmanship advice, but it does not apply to what we’re selling. We are not selling used cars to average people. People who will buy handmade pottery are a tiny subculture of people. They are way above average in intelligence, cultural education, self-esteem and probably professional accomplishment (given that they can afford to spend $40 on a single mug, which to an average person is considered crazy). They cannot and should not be pressured into anything. They are too smart for that. Show them respect for their agency, and deal with them eye to eye, i.e. like you are not above them or below them. Your goal is not to make a sale to somebody ONE TIME, like a car salesman. You cannot survive for long in this business without repeat customers, and a lot of them. If someone makes a purchase and leaves your booth thinking “well that was a little annoying” you are toast. 

Again, I never push my email list on anyone. It is not necessary. I was willing to take going on 18 years to build it. It’s an incredibly valuable asset now. At the extra important show I referenced above, my booth location was near the far end of the show away from the entrance. Some friends of mine said “Gosh isn’t it tough being way down here? There are way more people in the aisles on the other half.” I hadn’t noticed because my booth had been swamped all day, thanks to my email followers who came to the show looking for me. 

Listen to what @LeeU said. A lot of people are easily bothered by your behavior, and you might not know it. I am the same way when I am a shopper. It takes a great deal of self-awareness, combined with empathy and respect, to actually make people feel good all day long. I find that a lot of artists are doing an ok job, some are definitely offputting, and maybe 1 in 10 are doing it well. 

Edited by GEP
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47 minutes ago, Smokey2 said:

To get back on topic when sending out an email what do you promote more, you or the show? 

 "Smokey's Handmade Pottery at XYZ Craft show"

  "XYZ Craft show featuring Smokey's Handmade Pottery"

The use the first one. See my emails above. My company name is the top line, and all of my emails are consistently branded. The goals is for the email to be recognized as a Good Elephant Pottery email first, with the name of the show second. 

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I'm on the end and never bother folks wilh e-mails

I did for 20 years do a studio sale with mailers (stopped in 92)

My reason is I do not like e-mails from business selling stuff 

On the other hand those who want e-mails about an artist schedule would not be bothered

.My feeling is a web site with a  current schedule  is enough for folks to find me.

I do think nowadays every marking thing may be needed to get your foot in  the door of success in clay

None of my fellow potters I know do the e-mail thing either for shows-it could be an age thing as well-we are on the end of our careers.

Edited by Mark C.
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You are assuming a lot of negative things about me which I assure you are not true. But thank you, I realize you are trying to help.

 

 

2 hours ago, GEP said:

 We are not selling used cars to average people. People who will buy handmade pottery are a tiny subculture of people. They are way above average in intelligence, cultural education, self-esteem and probably professional accomplishment (given that they can afford to spend $40 on a single mug, which to an average person is considered crazy)

But you are only thinking of one way of asking for a sale, and the most negative one at that.

Let me give you an example:

A woman is looking at my ware and I can see she likes what she sees. I ask, "Did you ever see a garlic grater like this before?" If she turns her head to the side or keeps her head down I don't continue and move myself somewhere else.

But if I can see both her eyebrows lift up and/or she simultaneously blinks with both eyes I say, "You take a clove of garlic and rub it over these groves, add olive oil and herbs. My favorite is thyme but rosemary or basil and oregano will also work too. For that matter anything your taste can imagine is good too.  Slice your favorite bread into long narrow slices. Wait 20 minutes or so for the flavors to marry then dip your bread into the mixture."

Then, with a smile, I hand her the grater without saying anything else. That wordless motion of handing her the grater is asking for the sale.  Along with other items I sold 24 graters during one 4 hour show doing just that.

 

2 hours ago, Mark C. said:

it could be an age thing

I'm in my late 60's and one of those retired folks mentioned in the "A tread observed thread"

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, GEP said:
4 hours ago, Smokey2 said:

To get back on topic when sending out an email what do you promote more, you or the show? 

 "Smokey's Handmade Pottery at XYZ Craft show"

  "XYZ Craft show featuring Smokey's Handmade Pottery"

The use the first one. See my emails above. My company name is the top line, and all of my emails are consistently branded. The goals is for the email to be recognized as a Good Elephant Pottery email first, with the name of the show second. 

Maybe its a problem with the link but your logo doesn't show up right away, it takes a second or 2 to pop up, then its so light I missed it the first time I viewed it. This is what prompted me to ask my question

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Hey welcome to the board and congrats on your first half dozen shows! Sounds like your getting traction. People that like handmade and are willing to pay a premium to support artisans I have found to be a really nice group for the most part and I bet they will mostly be fine with an email about shows and an occasional promo but I would bet 'a few' b4 each show would probably be a mistake. I think the email list is part of the long game and if people start getting tired of your emails they may decide to opt out. Although you will see this in your stats but since they are hard to get signed up in the first place you might want to error on the side of caution.

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31 minutes ago, Stephen said:

Hey welcome to the board and congrats on your first half dozen shows! Sounds like your getting traction. People that like handmade and are willing to pay a premium to support artisans I have found to be a really nice group for the most part and I bet they will mostly be fine with an email about shows and an occasional promo but I would bet 'a few' b4 each show would probably be a mistake. I think the email list is part of the long game and if people start getting tired of your emails they may decide to opt out. Although you will see this in your stats but since they are hard to get signed up in the first place you might want to error on the side of caution.

Yes.  I feel like whenever I get "promote-y" on social media (Instagram and YouTube) I lose followers/subscribers.  But at the same time if I don't post regularly I also lose subscribers so it's kind of a delicate balance.  For YouTube I aim for 2 videos a week, and will see losses if I drop to once every 2 weeks.  On Instagram I don't necessarily lose followers if I don't post regularly, but i notice if I spend an entire week posting daily that the algorithm or whatever starts promoting my work more and I'll get an uptick in followers.  

I'd imagine it's similar for email campaigns.  Like a monthly reminder of local shows is probably a good thing, but a weekly reminder would be extremely detrimental.  Almost like you're bothering.

 

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Liam, do you think your social media work has translated into enough sales to justify the time? Do you do it for sales or for enjoyment? I know you have started doing shows now are you seeing folks from your social media work showing up in person at your booth?

Ya know I think one thing for the OP and others to consider is that there are a lot of different potters on this board,  from just took first class yesterday to 40 year pro's making 6 figures a year. Getting traction and making money in pottery I think is hard and the definition of success elusive as well.   Some potters need to pay their bills, send kids to college and others want to pay for materials and have some fun at some local weekend arts and crap shows. When someone hits their definition of success I think they somewhat justifiably feel like they have hit on the holy grail and  want to be helpful and share their routine, which is fantastic but what works for them may or may not work for everyone. Mixing and matching different approaches though I think helps dial it in. Getting tired of the work of the shows somewhat but that interaction is just fantastic for finding what rocks to pottery buyers. We are working on a more narrow focus that will be easier to stage and then just offer the more traditional ware through online.    

Edited by Stephen
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5 minutes ago, Stephen said:

When someone hits their definition of success I think they somewhat justifiably feel like they have hit on the holy grail and  want to be helpful and share their routine, which is fantastic but what works for them may or may not work for everyone.

I agree and I appreciate the advice given to me from folks that have 18, 20, 30 or more years under their belts but I can't help but wonder what they would do different if they where just starting today as there are a lot more online tools available now. From experience I've learned those that made it tend to forget what its like to start out fresh

This morning I received an email from one of the people that told me they forgot to come to the show asking me where she can buy my pots online. I don't have an online presence yet and that is on top of my to-do list so I invited her to my studio to look over what I have.  So maybe a reminder for her might have worked at the expense of turning others off.  I guess you don't know what you don't know until you try it and learn what does or doesn't work.

25 minutes ago, Stephen said:

and have some fun at some local weekend arts and crap shows.

I don't know if that was a typo or on purpose - either way, that's funny

 

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Much of pottery selling is how you want to do it. Some like mailing say specialty one of a kind mugs out via the mail and build a system around that model. They may be happy with say 30 K a year. Others want to cover hobby costs and want far less and some want to make a go via the art show route . Others want to ship only online.

I am blessed with not having to start out in this diffused market space that is todays market.

As a production potter mailing a mug yesterday sets me back time wise others would be happy as a clam. When I was young shows where king and making a lot of $$ for the single 2-3 day effort was appealing heck they still are. I always also had consignment and wholesale so its was a nice split income stream . These days I still have the 3 streams of income with wholesale being more each year.

So many models but the main thing is liking what you choose and being successful at that one.

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3 hours ago, Smokey2 said:

I don't know if that was a typo or on purpose - either way, that's funny

 

yeah I guess that's a little tacky but I really don't mean it as badly as it comes acrossB) (and the flattened wine bottles have to be sold somewhere). I agree with Mark, finding the route that makes you happy first and a little dough second is the way to go. Yeah it is work but its supposed to be fun too. Almost 60 as well and the older I get the more I realize that its important to not take life so seriously that you lose the joy. Ya blink and a year has gone by and you realize that more have gone by than will go by.

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4 hours ago, Stephen said:

Liam, do you think your social media work has translated into enough sales to justify the time? Do you do it for sales or for enjoyment? I know you have started doing shows now are you seeing folks from your social media work showing up in person at your booth?

The hours I spend making videos will never come back, but it's fun and I enjoy it.  Funny thing, the guy I bought my new kiln from knew who I was and had seen my videos.  Which was a little weird for sure.

Instagram takes almost zero effort if you're already taking pictures for other reasons, I don't do anything strictly for Instagram.

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3 hours ago, liambesaw said:

The hours I spend making videos will never come back, but it's fun and I enjoy it.  Funny thing, the guy I bought my new kiln from knew who I was and had seen my videos.  Which was a little weird for sure.

sounds like something that is more part of the journey for you than a chore so return doesn't really matter? I think you guys that are building good teaching reputations on YouTube are increasing your ability to do workshops around the country down the road if you decide you want to go that route. Name recognition means something when trying to fill up slots in a workshop. 

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16 minutes ago, Stephen said:

sounds like something that is more part of the journey for you than a chore so return doesn't really matter? I think you guys that are building good teaching reputations on YouTube are increasing your ability to do workshops around the country down the road if you decide you want to go that route. Name recognition means something when trying to fill up slots in a workshop. 

I am more focused and thoughtful when I am recording myself.  I record almost everything I do at the wheel and cut it down to things that are kind of interesting.  I watch footage of myself, compare to masters and attempt to adjust.  It's a very helpful tool regardless, but it does take time to edit and rewatch footage, luckily I have one night a week i can set aside to doing that while enjoying libations.

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