mel jacobson on sun 15 oct 00
i am not an expert on shows as i never use them.
but, saying that, i do have very strong opinions. that is
why i do not use them.
each potter has to decided early on how you are going to
market your pots. if you are going to do the show route,
then you must study them, have great slides made, pick
the ones you can trust and stay with them....then market
your booth and pricing to sell. who cares who has the next
booth, you are selling `your` wares.
kevin caufield of st. paul has a wonderful booth at the `renaissance
fair ` each year. many have complained that the show is lagging
and craft people are not selling as much. i think it is true. so,
kevin worked harder. sent out flyers to many of his customers inviting
them to come out. he had lost leaders, he got out in front of his
booth and talked to more people. he sold harder.
had a record year selling pots at the renaissance...others are still
bitching. (of course they sat on stools in their booths reading books
and waiting for people to come and snatch their pots up.)
remember, selling is hard work. it has never been easy.
often you sell yourself more than your pots.
exhibitions and invite shows are a different story. i have often
said on clayart. `make sure you know why you are sending your
pots off to a show`. do you send for ego, promotion, excitement of
getting in, or what? most potters have no business sending pots
to those kinds of shows. it does not pay off. ask dannon or our great
director jean, of the `strictly functional show`...they bust their butts doing
those shows for almost no reward. it costs plenty to put those
shows on. i doubt very much that you can increase your popularity
with your customers by telling them you got in a show. they just
rarely care. most academics rely on those shows to increase their
chances of tenure or raises. that is a purpose. (publish or perish.)
my advice again:
draw a circle on a map of your area. make it a 50 mile circle.
look at it, study it. find out who lives there, find out who wants
pots. find out and keep records of everyone in that circle that has
ever purchased a pot from you. send post cards to as many people
as you can and tell them about your pots. sell you and your pots.
be nice to people, show them how you make pots, educate, educate.
bitching has never worked since before the ming pots hit the world.
`do you realize that the ming potters got their pots in boats and were sold
along the coast all the way to the persian gulf. that was great marketing.
pricing: man, what a difficult thing. look at what others are getting.
check the fine china departments, compare and try and find a place
for you. if your pots do not sell, well, either decrease your prices or
double them. both work. value is a created mind set. you have to
create that value. and if they still do not sell, well look at your pots,
they may be crappy.
i still have back yard and studio sales. they are great. send a card,
put out some wine, talk to people, shmooz a bit, fill bags with pots.
count the money sunday night. pots all gone. almost none of those
people give a damn if i write for a magazine. (i write for magazines
because i have things to say to my colleagues, not my customers.)
they would not even understand what my articles are about. if they
see them, well, they just say `oh, nice, how much is that shino vase?`
each monday after a sale i run to my old apple IIe and stick in all
the names of new customers and address changes. run a new set
of labels. ( i had the customer list on that old mac and don't want
to change to windows. love that long string of labels.)
when i hear of potters getting thousands of dollars for pots, i usually
smile and say....`what was the gross last year?` or, `how many actual
pots did you sell for five thousand dollars`?...funny, they never answer
that question, mumble. there are exceptions, but not many.
always ask the question:
how many collectors are there out there that will pay thousands for
a pot? not many, and when they have collected one or two of one
potter, they move on to new ground. that is what collectors do...they
look for new ideas, pots, value. they are not ninnies in the buying
world, they are smart.
these are just ideas. look to successful potters and ask the same
questions. ask people like wendy rosen, `who sells the pots`? she
has told us time and again. very few listen.
bitching is easier.
a studio full of pots, getting ready for the holiday season...have
to order new bags.
FROM MINNETONKA, MINNESOTA, USA