Hi everyone.  I am a crystalline glaze potter in North Carolina and am in my 6th year of doing shows...so still a newby. 

My question/inquiry deals seeks to get advice on what to do about shows that have been good up until this year and so far sales are down sharply.  Three larger shows that I've done for several years and sales have been increasing every year, this year are about half of last year.  I did raise my prices very slightly this year (1/4%), but I wouldn't think that would account for the disparity.  I have introduced new product, and new glazes but have kept the better performers in the line.  My pricing structure goes from around $30 to $500 with the median about $90.

Two of the shows are close to each other geographically, the third is around 100 miles from the other two.  All are in generally affluent areas.

Should I lay off of those shows for a year or two, or doggedly stay with them?  I'm very open to any suggestions from the veteran's here.



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  • Find a replacement show. Always try a few new ones so you have someplace to go when others go downhill due to management changes or ??????????

  • You guys are the bomb.  Love this place, and art show people in general... no shortage of people willing to lend a hand are give awesome advice.  Thank you all.

    I do try to introduce new ideas and product several times a year, along with keeping the best sellers.  Also change out my booth appearance...hopefully for the better... when it feels like it's getting stale.

    Recently got a new website up and running along with Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter accounts and links.  Have had a good amount of traffic, but no online sales as of yet.  I do need to work those avenues much better (which I'm not real good at).

    Probably my biggest issue to overcome is that I'm not a salesman by nature.  I've done a pretty good job of overcoming a basically shy nature and am much more at ease conversing with strangers.  I typically maintain a positive and upbeat believe in my product and try to communicate that.  Guess the toughest part for me is identifying hidden objections and overcoming them to close the sale.

    Don Mienders - I probably stated the increase incorrectly.  The 1/4 increase was applied to the multiplier I use to set prices.  ie. measured diameter x height x "multiplier" (was 2.25 now 2.5)

    • As far as being a "salesman", I strongly recommend the two books by Jack White. He was an artist and a salesman extraordinaire!. Can find them downloadable on Amazon for about six bucks each.

  • People get fat and people get skinny. As long as Walmart keeps selling laminated belts that crack on the adjustment holes after a couple months, I will sell belts. I raised prices of $40-$50 belts by 20%-25% last year or year before and there has been no decline in sales. Just more money.

  • Having done consulting for a long time keep in mind the five factors in selling (anything).

    1 - the right product

    2 - in the right place

    3 - at the right time

    4 - at the right price

    5 - communicated effectively (and probably the most important)

    • When I taught sales there was a different approach.

      Three things a a salesperson needs to be able to make that sale.

      1) A belief in your product.

      2) Knowledge of your product.

      3) Reasonable way of presenting it.

      It does not have to be the right product. that is a matter of the ability of the salesperson.

      My father could sell a person a ticket to hell.

      One way of course but he would sell them that ticket.

      So 1 is a matter for the salesperson. Are they doing a "needs based" approach? is it the right product --- there is more unneeded bad product sold than there is the opposite.

      2 - the place is wherever I can get in front of the customer. Selling balloons and clown makeup at a funeral might not be the right place but that just makes it more of a challenge.

      3 - They can meet tonight at 7:00 or tomorrow at 8:00... which is better for you?

      4 - Price is immaterial. That is why we have credit. How important is that artwork? Seek the hidden objection - price is just that.

  • "Every invitation whether online or on paper keeps your products in front of them." I might tend to be cautious with this approach. Morgan, you have already stated concerns about being stale and possibility of needing change. When people are deluged with marketing contacts, they become numb to them and they are no longer effective. It can have an adverse affect. They become blind to it and avoid it. Perhaps some people are passing your booth and thinking "I've seen that booth or been there / done that". I had someone at a show who likes my work. I saw them at a gallery I was exhibiting in. They were impressed and loved some of my new pieces. I mentioned they were only exhibited one other time, at a recent show I did, in their area. They stated they had been there but not stop in my booth. I asked why they did not stop in my booth. They stated "I passed by your booth but didn't stop because I know your work." That tells me they were not expecting anything new or different. Instead the idea of doing something different. Shake it up. Change things.  First rule of sales ATTRACT ATTENTION. When people see something, the same as what they have seen before it does not attract attention.

  • Are there newsworthy economic factors in play- like large layoff announcement of a leading employer in the area? The news media can whip up a sense of financial insecurity that will kill any show.

    On a different thought, how about your marketing- send out emails? Social media blitz? Every invitation whether online or on paper keeps your products in front of them.

    But like you we have had a few surprising disappointments
  • I think that it's very hard to tell by just 1 year's experience.  I usually try for 2 years to see if this year is just a fluke.

    • Thank you, Kathleen.  I typically give a show 2 years unless it is obviously a complete dud.  Those shows I talked about I have done for 4 years and both had gotten better every year.  One of them was the best show I've ever done anywhere.  This year was about half of last year.  A little leery about signing up again next year.  Still might because of the track record.  Maybe it was a fluke, or my location, or the heat...who knows.  We'll see how I feel in a few months.

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