Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Marketing vs Advertising

This was the view from my back door at around 6:30 pm. The skies are laden with smoke from wildfires burning to the south west of us....

The last couple of days I've been staying indoors as much as possible trying to keep out of the smoke filled air. Smoke, along with other air born particulates, is one of my worst allergies so needless to say it hasn't been a fun time.

I have, however, enjoyed having a student, especially one who caught on so well to the principles involved in weaving. I have also managed to pass the half way mark on the mug rug warp and hope to weave a bit more this evening before Doug gets home from work.

Many weavers come to the craft as a hobby. They find that they enjoy themselves and if they do it a lot discover that they can produce more than they can use themselves or gift to family and friends. And so they start thinking about trying to sell what they make.

They sometimes wonder about the difference between 'marketing' and 'advertising'.

A number of years ago I took a class on marketing and the definition given by the instructor was that marketing is simply sharing information. Advertising is what you pay some form of media to run - in their pages, on their screens, etc.

Marketing can take many forms. The easiest and most direct is to just tell people what you do. Aids in this are things like business cards or brochures that you can hand out or leave for people to take home.

In the 21st century marketing can also be done on the internet via sites like Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

I try not to do too much marketing in my blog, preferring to keep it more educational - a sharing of what I'm working on currently. But yes, from time to time I toss in some information - like the fact I ordered more CD Weaver III's to be made (available at http://LauraFry.artfire.com)

My website would be considered advertising. I pay for a URL and I freely post things that I sell there, including my services as a teacher (workshops and seminars). http://laurafry.com - click on Store then Workshops/Seminars.

Some chat groups do not allow 'advertising' (which ought to be called 'marketing' because you don't pay for the space - either way, it's verboten).

Blogspot now has an option for bloggers to 'monetize' their site. In other words, you agree to allow others to advertise on your blog and you get paid for it. I have resisted this because I don't know that it's terribly effective plus I don't want to offend people. If I'm going to 'advertise' it will be my own self. Selfish perhaps, but so far that's where I'm sitting in that regard.

Selling one's work is not easy. People assume that everyone will just love their hand woven textiles.

But what weavers are really selling in the 21st century are their skills as a designer first, their skills as a weaver second. There is an abundance of choice in terms of textiles in the marketplace. There are poor quality textiles, medium quality textiles, and high quality textiles.

What makes something poor quality? I always think about function first, but there are also poor design choices, poor colour choices, poor finishing choices.

There are textiles that are serviceable but lack a certain something in terms of design. And that is generally in the eye of the beholder, so very difficult to nail down. OTOH, most people can pick out something that they think is outstanding.

So what are high quality textiles?

Something unique from what is already available in the marketplace. Something made with high standards of workmanship, from good quality materials. Colour choices should be exciting, perhaps even a little unusual. This is always hard to nail down, but there should be some sense of drama in terms of the colour/design.

High quality textiles will command higher prices than poor quality textiles ---- IF they are offered to the segment of the market that appreciates and can afford them.

It is extremely difficult to take one's wares to a church bazaar environment and find very many people who will willingly invest in a scarf priced at more than $100, for example. Not entirely impossible, but generally people who go to a church bazaar are looking for lower priced items.

So I choose my sales venues with care. I never do outdoor events. (See above for why.)
I do not generally do sales where the organizers sell 'tables'. And if I do attend such an event I never use the table provided but bring my own display apparatus. And lights. I never do a show where I can't have my own lighting.

It is also very important to dress the part of someone who has high quality items for sale. It would never do to man the booth wearing my work clothes. I have a whole other wardrobe with my 'sales' clothes in it.

I bring a tall stool to perch on so that I maintain eye contact with people walking by. And I never (and I do mean never) sit in the back of the booth and read. In fact, I don't have a 'back'
of the booth as every inch is devoted to displaying my work as well as I possibly can.

When people spend $100+ on a scarf, part of the experience of the sale is meeting with and getting to know the maker a little bit. To sit and read instead of making eye contact and greeting the people who enter your booth is to say you aren't interested in that dialogue. If you truly aren't interested in that contact, hire someone else to sell your work for you.

Most creative people are not good sales people. They know where the bodies are buried, so to speak. They know they are capable of better. They might even be a little embarassed that their work is not yet 'perfect'. So sometimes they find it difficult to ask a higher price or move to close the sale.

When complimented on their work, the best answer is not an apology, but a simple and heart felt
'thank you'.

If you are interested in selling your work, check out the variouis venues in your locality. Talk with other craftspeople who already exhibit there. Listen to the comments of the public. Look to see how they are dressed. Do they look the type to spend large on something hand made?

Think about how your are going to display your work long before the day of the event. Have something built, or beg, borrow or buy display props and apparatus.

But once the door opens, put your game face on and become the salesperson you need to really sell your work. And leave your ego at home.


Beth said...

Lovely and helpful post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Food for thought. Thanks for sharing the info.