Festival Network Online Newsletter
Art/Craft Edition - September 2005
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A note from the editor...Last month, we heard about techniques to sell your products without competition. In this month's newsletter, photographer Ken Fermoyle teaches us what to do if competition exists at an arts/craft event, and how to stand out from the competion. I hope you enjoy reading his ideas.
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How to STAND OUT from Competition at Art & Craft Shows
In the last newsletter, Rena Klingenberg offered excellent tips on how to find venues where there will be little or no competition for your wares. That's not always possible, so you need to find ways to make your booth stand out from others, whether they are direct competitors or not.
If you're an artisan, craftsperson or artist of any type, a good way to do this is actually to ply your craft or art at the show. Believe me, this attracts crowds to your display, stopping curious passers-by who want to see what's going on in your booth.
I learned this during the early 1970s when three of us - my wife, a good friend and me - upgraded a hobby in leather working to a small cottage industry. We did reasonably well at our first two shows, using one simple gimmick. Our big sellers were belts, as they were for most leather-workers at the time. Unlike others selling hand-tooled leather items, however, we did not pre-size our belts and add buckles. Instead, we tooled and finished the belts in various lengths and hung them on pegboard panels. We displayed the buckles separately on blue velvet cloth, allowing customers to mix'n'match leather belt and buckle to suit their fancies.
When a customer made his or her selection, I riveted buckle to belt, measured and cut it exactly to size, then punched the needed holes to assure proper fit. At the early shows, I noticed that quite a few people stopped to watch this process. And some of them wound up buying belts themselves.
If this fitting of belts attracts crowds while it's being done, I reasoned, doing actual leather work in the booth full-time might result in people taking notice of our booth full-time. I remembered how demonstrations of kitchen gadgets and similar items always drew large audiences. Could not our own "demonstrations" do likewise? And so it proved!
Engage the crowd
We assembled a portable kit of tools, dyes and other paraphernalia, plus a stout wooden bench to work on, for our next show.
As on-lookers gathered to watch, I told them a few things about leather working, and explained that we preferred to custom-finish our products on the spot for our customers. I explained how they could select belt and buckle, then have me fit it to them personally. I told them that we could add monograms to many of our purses, visors and leather bracelets right there. I made every effort to keep these comments from sounding hard-sell sales pitches, pitching them as information - often in answer to questions from the audience gathered around us.
Many who purchased our products said they chose us over competitors (and there were a lot of leather vendors in those days) because of the custom touches we offered - and because they liked knowing that the people selling the items actually produced them by their own handiwork.
Adapt this approach
Not everyone can follow this approach, but use your creativity to develop your own variation on the idea.
A painter might bring a field easel and an unfinished piece to work on during idle moments. If people stop to watch, you could explain a bit about your technique, then show how it looks in the finished pieces for sale in your booth.
A woodcarver could work on a simple piece to attract the attention of passers-by. Ceramist might do some decorating with glazes. You get the idea.
But there are some who couldn't do actual work on site. Throwing pots is too messy. Producing art glass or finished porcelain pieces requires kilns. Hamd-making furniture or other large items needs more room than a typical display booth offers. Creating metal sculptures that require cutting torches is too dangerous.
If your work falls into those categories, or similar ones, perhaps you can use a laptop computer and a slide show as an attention-getter to make you stand out from the competition. It's easy to do now. Digital cameras, laptops and software suitable for the task are now priced reasonably, and you don't have to be a techno-geek to produce a simple slide show that demonstrates steps in the creation of your finished products.
Use your ingenuity and develop your own way of standing out from your fellow vendors. It pays off!
Article provided by:
Award-winning photographer and digital artist.
Owner of the website Capulin Studios. Reprinted with permission.
Art/Craft Newsletter Editor
Diane Elliott Bruckner
Music Newsletter Editor
Food and Commercial Newsletter Editor
Julie M. Cochrane
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