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Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Business Chat - Go ahead, sell me a story

I present to you, a tale of two listings. 

Listing A:

First light is around 5 a.m. as we camp overnight in the desert. The sky turns from midnight black to a pale grey. Streaks of purple and pinks appear. There are some touches of blues and greens as well as the light hits the rocks. Everything is still and quiet as the world waits for the giant ball of orange to appear and a new day to begin. 

I make my beads to tell stories of my travels and of the world I see. From my beads I spin tales into not jewelry but wearable art. These earrings are memories of my Australian outback camping trip where I learnt about wild camels, wombats and all the colours a night sky can be. 

Each bead is individually made my me. There is no paint on any of my beads, just glass upon glass upon glass. These earring beads each measure approximately 13 mm x 11 mm. They hang on handmade sterling silver ear wires for a total length of approximately 30mm. 

Or Listing B:

Glass bead earrings, grey/purple. Handmade beads, sterling silver ear wires. Length 30 mm. 


Which listing do you think is going to sell those earrings?

When you make something it is just that, a thing. Things have features. They are short, long, round, made of wool/clay/silver/glass etc. You can describe the thing. 

When you describe something to a customer it is just a thing. We can buy things anywhere. If all my customer wanted was a pair of earrings they could go to a mall. My customer (and yours) wants more. They are looking for a connection with the actual making of the product and the inspiration behind it. They want a story. They want to know the artist this is why they have chosen to shop at a handmade venue, either online or at a craft show.

Customers who shop handmade like to own unique work, not mass produced-in-third-world stuff. The more you can tell them about the process and the story and the the inspiration behind the world the more they will engage with it. I want my customer to know why I call my earrings Desert Sunrise. I want them to know that I make the glass beads. If someone compliments my customer on her earrings I want them to respond with “oh, I got these online from a woman who makes the glass beads. She watched a sunrise in the desert and loved the colours. Aren’t they great?” 

Telling the story behind each piece sets you apart from your competition. No one else has your story. This is your way of standing out from the crowd. If you are selling your story online it is your product description If you are standing at a show, your story is your conversation with your customer.

Your story doesn’t have to be long and complicated, you aren’t writing a novel. People have short attention spans, sometimes just naming a product is enough. If you aren’t used to selling/telling your story you can start by naming each piece. 

Maybe your pieces aren’t inspired by faraway travels. Stories can be feelings not just fanciful tales. Think of a pair of brown glass earrings. What kind of brown is it? Maybe they’re the brown of the cup of hot chocolate that warms your hands after a day of skating. Notice what you fell when you read that sentence. Or the golden brown of a tigers eye. Invoke a feeling, pull the customer in. 

Your homework for this week is take a good look at your own descriptions and stories. Take one piece and write a short story for it. 

Go ahead, sell me a story. 

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