Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Oh man, this is a great thread. Here are a few I've been affronted with the past number of years:
I've had the pleasure of diversifying my product line featuring my illustrations (originals > prints > jewelry) and most recently leathergoods. Those who walked into my booth understand the originality, hardwork, and investment that goes into our wearable art. We know who they are immediately and enjoy talking with them.
The remaining few who don't operate on all 8 cylinders are well, enjoyable too, just on a different level. I had a few strut right in telling me they're leatherworkers and want to know how to do what we do.
That's when we turn our backs and greet other customers
Thanks for this! I'm loving your stories, too!!
My booth neighbor last weekend told me of something she'd read in a marketing book. She said that if a visitor compliments your work, you shouldn't automaticaly reply with "Thank you." It is a verbal acceptance of a verbal payment, and serves as a signal that they have permission to leave. Instead, segwey into an explanation, or comment on the work being discussed.
I tried this with next group of visitors and the theory seemed to prove true. It became an almost comical contest between us. The flattery grew progressively inflated and slavish the more I diverted the conversation into antedotal trivia about the piece. After a few more of these exchanges, the melodramatic performance was getting a bit ridiculous, and it was quite clear that they had no intention of purchasing anything, despite thier immense devotion to my creativite excellence. I finally took pity upon them and said "Thank you."
I've never seen a sharper and smartly executed "about face" since my days in the Navy. They were gone faster than anyone could have a chance to say another word and I'm sure quite relieved that I finally allowed them to leave gracefully.
I do enjoy compliments and encouragement, and very grateful for it. It was just an interesting insight into human behavior, and gave me a rather different perspective on compliments versus 'flattery'. "Looking" is free, and "talk" is cheap, and now I have another trick to keep my booth occupied and attract other pedestrians who hopefully just can't live without my artwork.
Bruce Baker says the same thing in his Customer Service CDs - DON'T accept non-monetary payment i.e. compliments. Only say 'thank you' after they have given you money.
It's awkward, because our first polite reaction when someone gives you a compliment is to say thank you. But then they think they've paid you for you for their entertainment/enjoyment in your work and leave happily. I try and turn it around with a response to "you just make gorgeous work" as "I enjoy making it....see this piece...." It certainly does make them reluctant to leave, as you found Jim, and keeps the conversation going.
I do let off regular clients as I know they'll buy something eventually anyway, and some people. as you mentioned, get really jumpy and obviously have no intention of parting with their $ so I usually let them go too with a thank you - but I make them work for it LOL. Some people will eventually leave without the thank you but they're seem to remain unsure/off balance when leaving!