By Helena Kaufman
It’s festival and conference time for artisans all over! Here’s how to make the most of it.
Attending events, literally taking yourself and your work to market, is a time honoured and necessary step in succeeding. Today we’ll look at the benefits of going to market or meeting live and in person. In part two we’ll explore online and other avenues to extend your message and presence.
Representing your work your work directly to customers, collectors, retail buyers or potential partners, depending on the purpose and design of the event, is a terrific opportunity. The value of feedback is priceless from buyers or sellers of your spirit made manifest and now in the market.
Takin’ It to The Streets, or Round to the Cyber Mall?
You might say you can access information and people by telephone and social networking and possibly distance education (webinars and teleseminar), email and fax without leaving your studio, shop or life and family.
In person attendance, however, offers a magic in opportunity and creative stimulus that is unique.
Why not take advantage of both traditional and electronic channels to meet your market?
In person you observe, network and get feedback on your work as well as your marketing and promotion systems. You can sell. You can get people excited about finding you again, online and in person. You can learn from industry events and meet colleagues, experts and perhaps, future partners.
Event Success Scenario
Events are temporary set ups, ideally well planned and promoted to draw the most number of appropriate people. The venue may be an interior trade show floor, a festival or fair-like gathering in support of art, design and sometimes in combination with other causes. It is essentially a direct sales opportunity separate from your shop or studio. It is another exposure for artists where they can directly meet their market and capture tangible evidence of joy, appreciation, surprise and useful feedback.
Two types of events feed the artisan’s economy and education.
A consumer oriented show is licensed for sales. Artisans represent their work in person and usually sell directly to new and returning buyers. An industry event offers contact with store buyers, collectors or suppliers and experts. Such an event nourishes artisans and gives another level of exposure to sales and promotion. Conferences educate, elevate artisan’s knowledge and connect.
Both event types lift artists out of the isolation that many creative and cultural workers must inevitably work in for some period to study and produce their work.
Finding Balance in the Opportunity
Attend events and grow your business. Period. For 30 years of marketing and public relations my #1 personal business motto has been, “Nothing beats showing up”. So be prepared.
Attending events has practical considerations. It also has smart post event patterns to make the expense worthwhile.
Consider the Costs: Venue – booth, utilities, licenses, staffing, signage, refreshments and possibly lodging. Promotional material and business cards, labour and expense in ensuring all the ‘paper’ is prepared such as travel booking, product transportation and customs if applicable. Let’s not leave out time away from your life, business and family.
Consider the big benefits.
1. You are lifted out of routine. Stimulation, inspiration and affirmation are the rewards of coming out to work, play and sell. You may magically uncover solutions you no longer saw alone. It might be transformational.
2. Plugging in to community staves off personal and professional loneliness and offers live brainstorming. Artists and entrepreneurs carry great responsibility that others, even their close supporters may not fully be able to shoulder with them. Fellow participants have a depth of understanding unique to your challenges and joys. How? As sounding boards, as live sources of information whether an email is entered incorrectly, a website is down, or a staff person comes though or not. Ahh the merits of being around people who “get it.”
3. Contact with suppliers, customers, industry leaders, instructors or buyers you might have only hoped to meet, some day is possible. Imagine standing on either side of a booth, getting a coffee or sliding into a seat in a presentation only to meet the perfect person.
Need I mention again that your business will take off with live events?
You must take some steps to boost your marketing success rate before, during and after an event. Read our next article to find out about some strategies that will help your bottom line.
Part two will follow next week…
Helena Kaufman is a writer and communications trainer. In 1982, success at promoting, marketing and writing about 200 artisans launched Helena as an event publicist. The designers who sold at the Annual Manitoba Christmas Craft Sale exhibited original functional and decorative pieces in fibre, pottery, metal, oil, paper, wood, distinctive wearable art and more. Helena worked to raise their profile, bring media attention and increase their sales. She now shares some of that savvy in the Artisan Ally series. Helena’s writing and communications site can be found here.