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What do you do if your art or craft work isn’t selling? 

Get a job, right? Wrong!

At least, not until you have analyzed your situation thoroughly. Before you give up, try some of the methods for increasing a product's sales listed here. Begin by asking yourself these questions:

* Are the markets, I am trying to sell to, receptive to my work?
* If not, where else will my products be in demand?
* Am I using the wrong display, colors, materials, or designs?
* Can I increase the “perceived value” of my work to make it more attractive?
* Am I asking for the sale?

Market receptivity

Often you will find pieces of your work selling well in stores and going nowhere at art and craft shows, and vice versa. Some items simply don't sell in every market, but this doesn't mean the product won't sell elsewhere or that you should stop making it.

Change your display

If the public is attending the event but not coming into your booth at craft shows, change your display. It may cost you money to buy better fixtures, but if no one is buying your pieces, you're wasting money to do the show anyway.

How color affects sales

The public buys color — they are moved by it. Sure, you will always find a market for ‘natural’ colored work, but without the diversity of a wide and luxurious selection of color combinations, you can't compete with the vast array of products vying for your customer's dollars. 

For inspiration of alternative color combinations, look through magazines like Ornament, Vogue, Metropolitan crafts, Better crafts and Gardens, and Architectural Digest. Look at the sky, the earth, the grasses, the birds, the mountains, and don't forget the malls.

See the book, Color Me Beautiful by Carol Jackson

Changing the materials to improve sales

Try using alternative materials to add texture, glamour, and distinction to your pieces. For example, add shells, braids, ribbons, reeds, antique buttons, leather strips, paper, fringes, dried flowers, etc..

Designing to sell

Some basic design principles can improve attractiveness. A few of these elements include the fact that a rectangle is more attractive than a square, odd numbers create more interest than even, variety and diversity are more exciting than even spacing. 

Proportion stripes using the Fibonacci Series; a number system in use since medieval times that contains design elements found frequently in nature. Every number in the series is found by adding the two numbers before. 

For example 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on. In designing a piece with bands of different colors, stripes of one color could be 3", than another color 1", another 5", another 2", a 3" stripe, and then two different 1" bands.

Increasing the perceived value

Perceived value is the worth the customer places on a given purchase. If a piece isn’t selling, you can increase its value in the eyes of the customer by various means. 

One way is to use more expensive materials and emphasize the exclusiveness of the finished piece. 

Another way is to make use of hang tags, brochures, and packaging to add value to a piece. It is unfortunately true that the public today often buys the ‘packaging’ of a product instead of the contents. Though this may insult you as an artist, you might as well make use of the tendency.

Ask for the sale

Sometimes the difference between a customer making a purchase and walking away lies in whether you have asked them for the sale. There are many ways to do this without sounding like a car salesman. Examples include: 

* “Can I write this up for you?;” 
* “Can I put this one in a bag for you?;” 
* “Will you be putting this on your charge card?;” 
* “How would you like to pay for this?;” 
* “I think you'll be pleased;” 
* “Let me take your order for this today.”

At times during your presentation, you will get better results by telling the person what to do. 

For instance, I have noticed that when I ask customers if they would like to try on a piece they've been looking at, half the time, they say “No, then I might want it.” 

This leaves one in an awkward position. As a solution, try this. When you see someone attracted to a piece, pick it up, take it to them and say “Here, try this on. See how it looks in the mirror.” 

They rarely refuse and often end up buying. Once a person tries a piece on, you're more than halfway to making the sale.

About the Author
James Dillehay, author of seven books, is a nationally recognized expert on marketing arts and crafts. Artist, entrepreneur, and educator, his articles have helped over 15,000,000 readers of Family Circle, The Crafts Report, Better Homes & Gardens, Sunshine Artist, Ceramics Monthly, and more. James has appeared as a featured guest on HGTV's popular The Carol Duvall Show and he is a member of the advisory board to The National Craft Association. He is editor of www.Craftmarketer.com. This article is copyrighted and excerpted from James Dillehay's The Basic Guide to Selling Arts & Crafts. 



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