Tag Archives: customer

How do you make your customers feel?

Do you get annoyed when you feel your business has been taken for granted?

Art is one of those areas of business (if you earn your living or some of it from art it is a business!) where repeat customers are more common than usual.

Once a customer finds you or your work and they get your style, they’re quite likely to come back to you again.

(Remind me to consider how e-marketing and keeping in touch really pays off here. For now though, I want to think about how we make our customers feel when they buy something.)

Hopefully the inevitable buyer’s remorse passes, your art becomes a feature of your customer’s home and they get used to knowing they bought something unique and beautiful.

So they might come back and buy something else?

Here’s my characteristic digression.

I bought a tankful of petrol from an Asda petrol station last week. I was served by a machine (and me) so there was no human interaction. As soon as I’d filled, up the machine said ‘Next customer’. No ‘Thanks Mike for spending nearly 90 quid with Asda, part of the Wal-Mart Family of giant businesses that don’t care.’ No thanks of any kind. 90 quid.

If I’d sold something for £90 I’d damn-well say thanks very much, and I’m sure you would too.

So that got me annoyed. But then I visited a gallery I rarely go to (definitely not any of the galleries Jenny and I sell through as the owners of those are smart and civil and very likeable).
I overheard the gallery owner talking to a punter in the most patronising tones imaginable. The (potential) customer was made to feel like they knew nothing, and I winced to hear it.

Ok – maybe the lady didn’t know much about art (or about that kind of art) but she had a nice bag, nice shoes, and I’m guessing the nice Audi in the car park was hers, so she probably could afford to buy something.
Did being condescended-to make her more likely to buy?

No. The lady left. She’d spent at least 20 minutes there. She looked at a couple of pieces very closely, asked about the price, and asked if the artist had a website. So some buying signs, or at least ‘leave me your email address and I’ll add you to our newsletter list’ potential.

But she left.

Customers want to be treated like I do when I’m taking a serious interest in something. Respected, considered an equal, and engaged with. It’s not salesmanship, it’s courtesy and respect.

There may be things they want to know; or you can entice them into your art by hooking them. But let’s make a special effort not to imagine the customer knows nothing, or is just a punter who’d prefer the comfort of buying a print from a DIY store and is out of their depth.

Instead, let’s make a lifelong friend out of them, and hopefully a repeat customer who’ll tell anyone within range what a great artist you are, and how much they enjoyed finding out about your art!

Send me your artist horror stories or even your successes!


Showing, versus telling – the art of demonstrations

I was thinking about my earlier post on the subject of ‘What are you selling?’, and chatting with other artists during this year’s Herts Open Studios.
I’ve concluded that a significant part of the job of selling your ‘brand’ as an artist rather than just selling your time and materials can be achieved by showing people what you do – rather than just telling them.

Jenny and I have always sought out opportunities to demonstrate our stained glass processes as a way to draw prospective purchasers in (and a nice way to ensure time spent at craft fairs or exhibitions is more productive).
The number of conversations while working on a piece that have started ‘I used to do a bit of glass work…’ or ‘So tell me – how do you cut curves in glass?’ that result in a class booking for our beginner’s class or a sale then or later tells me the power of demonstration is not to be underestimated.

Does a demonstration have to be structured to be worth doing?
I’m not certain it does. It’s well worth having pieces of art in different stages of completion, if you can – this allows you to explain what you’re doing at the moment in relation to the finished piece.

We usually have some offcuts of glass we can use to show how a modern oil-filled glass cutter works, and even let someone have a go if they like.
Now this is a real ‘closer’!
Many people will be interested in what you do, and may want to try it but are wary of signing up for a class or buying a set of materials until they know they stand a chance of success!

Even if hands-on sessions aren’t practical, being able to talk with people about the techniques, or maybe the evolution of your work with examples of incomplete work to hand gets your conversation with the potential customer on to a much deeper level very quickly.

We also find that a hook to get that conversation started is invaluable.
At our recent Open Studios exhibition we were making stained glass Christmas decorations; we were able to say to people wandering around that we were getting a head-start on orders from the galleries we work with.

This got an initial response in most cases – isn’t a bit early, isn’t it a bit repetitive making the same thing many times, and so on. A bit of banter and a a bit of ‘these are the ones I’ve finished today’ and we’ve got a conversation started.

We also make sure we have all our tools handy, and we find we can get chatting by referring to tools that are the modern equivalent of ones they may have seen on TV or in their Dad’s workshop.  From that point it’s easy to develop that thread and find out if they’ve seen something in the exhibition they like.

If we’re not formally preparing to demonstrate, we’ll ensure instead that we have work on the go at different stages so we can point to the tools and techniques used at each stage.

To come back to the concept of selling your brand, I remember working at a large craft fair one August Bank Holiday, with a chap watching me cut glass for about half-an-hour. He just stood there and watched as I cut up all the pieces for a new design I had drawn out.

After 30 minutes, he said ‘I’ve never seen anyone cut so precisely as that, especially with people watching.’
I replied ‘That’s because you’re watching – I was being extra careful!’.
We exchanged greetings, he took a brochure and wandered off.
At the end of the day he returned and bought one of Jenny’s pieces (made at a craft fair the previous month!), telling his wife: ‘Now that I’ve seen it done I want to be able to tell people I know a bit about it.’

That’s the power of the demonstration – it moves you away from being the person selling the work, to being the person creating it using skills acquired and refined over many years.
Just make sure you get their email address so you can add them to your mailing list. And email them a photo of the finished piece you were making when they stopped and chatted!