Before you plan your show schedule, before you promote … choose your market.
Many artists run their businesses hoping that customers who come across their work will choose to buy from them. Actually, it is very much the other way around; through your intention, planning, strategies, and actions, you choose your customers.
It’s not uncommon that artists and craftspeople take a look around to see what shows are available. Are they conveniently located? Can they get juried into them? How much are the booth fees? Then they start applying to these shows, without knowing who their ideal customer is, and whether that type of customer will even attend those events.
And, they often price their work by looking to see what potential competitors are doing, trying to come in at the same price, or even a bit lower, thinking that price drives sales.
These are examples of thinking that stems from lack of confidence and from lack of knowledge about how to position a business in the marketplace. Usually, when an artist participates in an event which turns out to be an utter failure, they take note quickly to figure out what went wrong and avoid similar experiences in the future.
Although it is actually helpful to stumble, make mistakes and thereby learn what not to do, it is also helpful to start making your business strategies with your eyes open. Here are a few questions that will help you determine where you belong, and how you might proceed:
- What is your art or craft all about? What is your business concept?
- What is your appeal and why should people buy from you? (get very clear on this)
- Who is your ideal customer? Create a profile.
- What does your ideal customer value and how does your work tap into that?
- What are the features and benefits of your work that appeal to your ideal customer?
- Where does your ideal customer shop, and what type of price points work for them?
- How can you design a collection that leads to future, repeat sales from your customers?
- What functions, services or other touches can you include that add value to your line?
When you are completely comfortable with the business concept you have created, and understand the targeted customers you wish to pursue, choosing a venue gets easier. Compare selling venues with the needs and behavior of your ideal customer. Perhaps you won’t be exhibiting at an art fair after all – you may be selling at a special event that caters towards your chosen niche.
For example, if you have a higher end fashion collection, you may find that trunk shows and invitational events do better than setting up a booth at a local fair. You may need affluent female buyers who seek unique and unusual statement pieces for their wardrobe. They may very well appreciate the personal attention that a smaller, more intimate event provides.
Take a look at your own business and how you are selecting the marketplace for your work. Are you planning carefully to take advantage of the best possible places to sell?