The Business Chat – 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.

No.

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.
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.

Go.

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