There are several good resources for learning how to market your artwork but not many for learning how to sell it. These two things are quite different. Marketing is concerned with presenting your work to the public. It mainly involves communication from you to them. Selling involves coming to an agreement with an individual. The communication between you and the customer is interactive. If you focus exclusively on what you should say you stop listening. This creates an uncomfortable atmosphere that makes selling more difficult.
In his book “Secrets of Closing the Sale,” Zig Ziglar states that selling is “transference of feeling.” Negativity of any type will cause you to lose sales. But, if you enjoy making your work, if you’re glad when you enter your studio and excited when you finish a piece, you can share those feelings with your customers. Bring the enthusiasm that comes from creating things with you to the art festival, and make your booth a happy place. The more you worry about selling the less effective you’ll be at it.
Julia Weber’s jewelry booth is a delightful place. During Kentucky Crafted: The Market I find myself dropping by for an energy boost when I feel drained. I called her for some insight on bringing positivity to the sales process.
Craig: “I enjoy watching you talk with your customers because there’s not a hint of tension. How do you establish such a natural rapport with people?”
Julia: “No matter how busy it becomes, I make it my goal to meet every individual as an individual and treat them as such. I make myself available to them and make that initial human connection. Then, instead of trying to get something from them I provide what they need from me. The whole reason I make jewelry is so that people can enjoy the gift of creativity that I’ve been given. The customers who come to my booth give me an opportunity to share what I’ve been blessed with.”
C: “Many potential buyers will ask artists how long it takes to make their work. How do you handle this potentially troublesome question?”
J: “I don’t see it as a troublesome question. People are not always good at saying what they mean. When they ask this question they are really showing a sincere interest in my creative process. They truly want to know how I do what I do. That’s an opportunity to educate, so I freely share what I know. This turns people’s brains on and when they know what it takes to make my jewelry they place more value on it. As an artist, you know what you are doing when you create something. If you can communicate that to someone else, it only increases the value of what you do.”
C: “So your selling process doesn’t involve a sales pitch?”
J: “I don’t have to make a pitch. People come to art shows because they are interested in art. The only thing I have to do is let them know what goes into my work and how valuable it is. Then it sells itself. I never have to push something to sell. If someone is willing to pay you for your art, it’s because they admire your artistry not your salesmanship.”
Craig Kittner, arts marketing director