Sep 25, 2010

Too busy, too plain and too many

Last weekend I was at the Queen West Art Crawl, as a vendor, but also as a spectator of other booths and shoppers. Here are 3 of my main observations:

1. Although it is good marketing practice to collect contact information from potential buyers (via emails lists, mailing lists, etc), it shouldn't get in the way of the reason people are at the show. If you have a book for mailing lists, a guest book for comments, brochures for future shows, your business cards, a portfolio, all of these things cloud your art. They are actually competing with the real reason you're there - your art. By the time your potential customer has picked up a card, a brochure, signed even 1 of your 2 books and made polite conversation with you, they are too tired to look at your art. So be careful, have enough stuff to engage them, but don't make it too busy.

2. White space is important, but it can also be intimidating. If your booth looks too neat, too empty, customers are afraid to enter. Really. They think 'I shouldn't touch', or 'If there's only 3 things they must be really expensive" or "if there's only 3 things, they must be the 3 things that no one else wanted. Another draw back to the plain booth, is that people buy art from artists for a story (as I've mentioned before) and a plain booth doesn't tell a story. It doesn't say who you are. So you have be somewhere between too busy and too plain.

3. Throughout the show I had some friends visit - which I loved and needed for a bit of a break from polite talk and they even brought coffee. But I did notice that customers didn't ask questions or buy when I seemed 'too busy'. I also noticed that a booth just across from me had 3 girls 'working' the booth. One was the artist and 2 others were her supports. Great for the artist - minus the sales. People already feel intimidating entering tents, then add more people watching them makes it even harder. So when possible, leave your booth to visit with friends (leave in the care of someone while you leave though) or need a break. Don't make your tent the one with too many.

Sep 14, 2010

Heartbreaker vs love of my life

Last week, my son started grade 1. A big step in many minds, but to him it just seemed to be another day. I started putting little notes in his lunch bag when he was in JK - just to say I love him, or sneak him a kiss, especially on days he seemed to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Well, I did one last week too as he is transitioning into his new grade 1 role. Apparently, I wasn't the only mom I found out on the school yard one morning.

Well, James asked me to stop sending them because he didn't want to get teased. It broke my heart. It really shouldn't have, because wasn't the purpose to make him happy? And if they weren't, then why should I be upset. Anyway, I was a little.

 James asked me while I was making lunch how to spell love. I told him, but so busy thinking about how he doesn't want me to send love notes anymore, I didn't even pause to think why he wanted to know. Well, this morning I was rummaging through my purse at a meeting and out fell a little note, a love note from James. He sure knew how to bring a smile to my face.

So how does this tie into business? Well, it doesn't totally. But it did get me thinking about are there things I do for my customers that are really things I would like as opposed to what they would like? Maybe it's time to ask them...