Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Business Chat - Step 1: Know what you sell

So you have made a pile of work and now you need to sell it. How hard can it be? It’s really easy to sell a few things here and there, but oh, you made a BIG pile. Oh, you want to actually make some money, you might even want to make things for a living. Well that’s still not hard but it takes a bit of smarts. 

Step one of how to sell your work is: Know what you sell.

Most new sellers will blink, and then wonder if this is a trick question. That’s easy, you think, I made a sweater/pot/earrings/pillow. That’s what I sell.


That is your product.

People don’t buy products. People buy solutions.

It’s your job as a salesperson to figure out what their problem is and then position your work as the solution to their problem.

I hear you muttering away, just as I did when I first heard this. “There’s no problem, they just want earrings/mittens/art.” I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, if a customer just wanted earrings they’d go to a mall. The customer has sought out (through a craft show or online) HANDMADE earrings.

Time after time in my booth I hear, “wow, there’s so much talent here, I wish I could do something like this.” Are you listening? The customer’s problem is that they think they can’t create, that they aren’t artistic. And they think you are. The customer is looking for a creative story.

You need to sell you as a story. Give them a fully formed real live 3D artist. If you’re selling online presenting you the artist lends your work authenticity and depth. For those at a craft show I can guarantee at least 10 times a day you’ll be asked something along the lines of “how long have you been doing this?” or “where did you learn?”.

It’s hard when you’re starting out and haven’t yet fully claimed the word artist as you. Some people never really know what to say and just hum and fidget. But you, the savvy craftista, will be ready to continue the conversation and communicate your story. For communication is marketing and marketing leads to sales.

The second step to solving your customers’ problems is to communicate to them why your product will make their life better. This is explaining the benefits of your work, not the features.

While features are important and should be mentioned, if you want your customer to take out their wallets and hand over their hard-earned money you need to convince them of the benefits your product offers.

What’s the difference between a feature and a benefit?

- A feature is simply a characteristic of a product.
- A benefit explains what the customer has to gain by using the product.

The features are about the product. The benefits are about the customer.
Anyone can make a list of a product’s features. But it takes a bit of work to convert each of those features into benefits. A handy trick you can use is to add the phrase “which means…” to the end of each feature.

For example: a pair of mittens
Feature – made with 100% handspun wool.
Benefit – your hands stay warm and cozy.
“These are my beautiful mittens. I make them with 100% handspun wool which means your hands will always be warm and cozy.”

Feature - costs less 
Benefit - saves you money
Feature - comes in multiple colors 
Benefit - reflects your personality

Here’s your homework for this week. 

To get you started pick up your notebook and spend some time answering these questions on paper. Write several paragraphs on each question. If you feel too self-conscious at first write about yourself in the third person until you get the details down. Learn to spin your story.

  1. How did you become an artist?
  2. How did you learn your skill?
  3. What training have you had? Have you studied with any big names? Taken a course at a well-known school?
  4. How long have you been making your current work?
  5. What did you make before this?
  6. What was your creative path?
  7. What is it about your current work/technique that lights your fire? Why do you do it?
  8. What new techniques do you want to learn? What’s in your artistic future?
  9. What do you love most about being an artist?

Now, take 10 of your “products”. Write down the features of each product. At the end of the features list add the words “which means” and write the benefits.


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