Without a marketing squad, an ad counsel or a bunch of dancing fruit to do it for us, we all need to sell ourselves. It is difficult for many bead makers and designers alike to find a way to strut our stuff, bring attention to ourselves, show off, and generally just say to the world: Look at this: I made it and when you wear it you will look Absolutely Fabulous.
How do you personally promote your beads / jewelry? In this blog, I am going to focus on what Heather Powers introduced to me as “conversational selling”. I’m not sure if that is an industry term or if she made it up, but it fits the bill perfectly for what I want to talk about. People have said: “I’d rather let a friend do the selling, I don’t want to appear cocky, my beads will sell themselves, it is so awkward….” Yes, I agree, those are all legitimate statements and all have merit, but in the end, you are the one with ultimate responsibility to sell your little beauties. You control their destiny. I have debated how to best teach this area of self promotion and have decided to go with a “given scenario” approach.
Scenario #1: You are walking down the mall and someone notices and compliments the necklace you are wearing. Which is your typical response? “Oh, I made it several years ago, not one of my best, but thanks for noticing.”
Or, “Thanks! I made it several years ago and it still compliments everything I wear. Who knew I’d get so much mileage out of this one piece. I bet it would even go with that shirt you are wearing.” Pull a business card out of your pocket, hand it over and say “I have several pieces in my line that may interest you. Take a look around my site. If you’d like to place an order, just give me a call! If not, just enjoy the pictures and my card will make a happy book mark!”
When you answer in a manner similar to the first answer above the other person hears: handmade, old, outdated and not so good. The person in the second answer hears: handmade, looks great, timeless, would look as good on me as her and now I even know where to get one for myself. Even if you feel that piece is not “your best”, that person likes it – support his/her good taste!
Gestures count. Touch the necklace and show it off even more. Look the person in the eye, let them know your necklace is as confident as you are.
Scenario #2: You are at a show and people are milling around, but not actively buying.
Is your response to hang back, stay out of the way, and hope, hope, hope they will decide to buy? Or do you stand up straight, talk, point, show sets, make eye contact, demonstrate, suggest uses, hand them a piece to fondle… Some people just may need some hints on how to use your pieces. Let them know how you and others are doing just that: “That pendant was used at a bridal shower as a prize. My friend was wearing a pair of earrings made out of those when she attended her job interview. These beads particularly compliment that color you are wearing. These make a great earring and necklace set. Those always attract attention when I’m wearing them. That pendant is my best seller…..” By the end of the day you should be dead tired!
Don’t get discouraged when people stop by, talk and don’t buy. Remember, everyone is on a budget, but they will remember their conversation with you along with your suggestions and will have your card to use in the future when the time is right. Or maybe they will suggest you to a friend, or a bead shop….
A potential buyer stops by your table and seems to really like a piece and sends you a curve ball. “I really love this and would like to buy it, but wow, that is a lot of money.” Is your reply, “I know, but I can’t produce it any cheaper. Maybe you can save up for later. Here is my card.” Or: “You got that right! Being someone who makes handmade crafts myself I can completely relate. The reason for the cost is this particular process requires X number of steps to get that beautiful color mix – This glaze contains X which is twice as expensive as Y, but as you can see is about 5 times as beautiful.” Help your buyer justify the cost: “It is one of those pieces that you will get your investment out of by wearing it for years and years, by selling it to that special customer who you know will appreciate the extra craftsmanship, by giving it to your special sister friend who is always there for you no matter what…”
Let them know what they are getting for their money – and it can’t be just your time. Just because you took 5 hours making it, doesn’t make it more attractive to them. In all reality – who cares if it is handmade if it is no better or different than the off the rack beads? So you need to tell them what is better about your pieces – point out details that are impossible with mass production, show the steps needed, stress the individuality the person wearing it will feel, note that no two are alike but all beautiful, give your pieces a story, give them a personality, help the buyer establish a relationship with your pieces, not just with you.
Hope this is helpful – I’d love to get some comments / suggestions. Post a comment and I’ll get back to you. If you have additional ideas or can tell me of a time you stood up and made the sale – post it! We all love a happy ending! As I wrap this up I want to point out that when you get out there and self yourself and your beads, you are really selling all of us. We all need to support and sell the idea of fine, hand crafted art beads and the fantastic final pieces of jewelry they end up in. Lets spread the word and get it out there – We have beads and baby your gonna love ‘em!