wendy CHO | Once Upon Design | www.onceuponadesign.ca
Over 800 Canadian artisans come to One Of A Kind Show to sell their goods and gain exposure. This is a great opportunity for independent makers to showcase their craft and build a customer base. While some artists thrive in this environment and do really well at the craft shows and exhibitions, others still struggle with their sales.
I first saw Wendy Cho at One Of A Kind Show, and she is indeed one of the most memorable artists that I’ve met at exhibitions. Wendy’s illustrations were eye-catching and her booth space was overflowing with customers, attracting even more shoppers.
Not only couldn’t I resist buying a great art work from Wendy, I also reached out to her after the show to buy another piece of her beautiful craft. This made me thinking:
Why some artisans are more successful at exhibitions than others?
I asked Wendy to share the secrete sauce behind her success at craft shows. As it turned out, it was a combination of various things which Wendy learned throughout her journey as independent maker. Knowing the essentials will help artisans sell more products at exhibitions and take the full advantage of these marketing opportunities.
Get your craft validated first.
Exhibition is a grate place to gain a valuable market research. However, to make the most out of a craft show, you should get a face-to-face feedback on every product you sell prior to exhibiting. Once you test your craft in small batches, you can extend your top sellers to a product line and present the validated collection with confidence.
Figure out the pricing that works.
Pricing is extremely challenging for many artisans especially for those with comprehensive training and extensive experience. Essentially a price of an item tells the value and the overall artisan’s “worth”. Since you know your target audience, you can make assumptions on the range your customers can afford to pay for your goods. Then, your time and efforts should be the main factors determining the price for each individual item.
Once you establish your prices, test them out at the craft show. Keep the record of the most popular items to find the pricing pattern that works for you.
From Wendy’s experience: Odd number priced items (ex. $7, $15, $97, and $527) don’t sell as good as items with rounded prices such as $10, $20, $100, $540.
The Mere-Exposure Effect
Diversify your sales by showing your work in multiple venues but keep in mind that not all exhibitions may suit you. Pick the right craft shows and venues where you can connect with the same audience.
“The mere-exposure effect is a phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle”
In studies of interpersonal attraction, the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likeable that person appears to be. This effect has been also demonstrated with many different items including paintings, pictures of faces, geometric shapes, and other objects.
People don’t buy art, they buy the artist’s individuality that resonates with them.
Express yourself and tell people who you are in everything you do in a prominent but yet consistent way. Tell your story not only through your craft but also across your entire branding. From your signature, logo and business cards to the way you dress and decorate your display.
Consistency is indeed the key to a successful branding. However, the goal is to show everyone who you are. Those who resonate with you and your story will most likely be interested in your craft.
After all, exhibition is not about displaying your products, it’s all about exhibiting yourself and sharing the pieces of your heart to build meaningful connections with others.