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bowl-man (sales and marketing)

updated sun 17 aug 03


John Rodgers on sat 9 aug 03

Well, interesting things have happened.

On Clayart, there has been much cussing and dis-cussin' about sales and
marketing and I have read through a bunch of it. Also have accumulated
my own experience with it over the years, trying this and trying that.
Finding something that works, discarding that which doesn't work.
Testing, testing, testing.

Since my arrival back in The Deep South, I have floundered a bit, trying
to find a new outlet for my work, as the figurative work I did in Alaska
didn't have much appeal here. Pottery to Southerners is a natural and
that is where I went. But still, I found I was making all kinds of stuff
trying to find the right combination that makes good sellers ... fast
and efficient to make, not too expensive, yet makes good profit margin.
Been at it a while now, leaping about with various products, but have
until recently been unable to land just right on the lilypad. I seemed
to be all over the place with my work.

Well, I was discussing my efforts with my sisters and sister-in-law, and
the suggestion given me by the ladies was to limit my work to strictly
bowls. Why? Bowls are eminently useful, and women, especially
traditional women, need them for their special uses, in the kitchen, on
the counter, candy dishes, display for company, converstion pieces, etc,

I decided to go for it. I started putting out bowls. Big bowls, medium
size bowls, little bowls, wide shallow bowls, wide deep bowls, bowls,
bowls, bowls. Nothing very fancy, just purely functional bowls with nice
finishes. Limited to three colors - blue, green and a tan. I really
ramped up my bowl inventory, hugely.

And Lo!! Bowl sales have really taken off. I am now making more money
off of bowls alone, than the combination of all the other stuff I was
making. And bowls are fast, fast, fast! Nothing I make sells for over
$50, and most are in the $25/$35 range, with the slowest sellers being
the $50 bowls and the $10 bowls. But I am moving a huge number of those
medium priced bowls.

Point of all this is to keep trying different things. Survey the folks
who buy your things, whose opinions you value, your "users" as it were,
and find out what they want. That little procedure will be one of the
most valuable things that you can do for yourself.. And market surveys
to fihnd out what people really want is something that really big
marketing companies do, so you know the process has to work or they
wouldn't do it.

My marketing books say a survey with 60 participants will give you
reasonably accurate results. My survey contained 3 participants. But
they were specially qualified. And they gave me such accurate results,
that when the information was applied, I experienced significant sales

I hope my little experience helps some other clay persons struggling
along out there. Something to think about, anyway.

Regards to all,

John Rodgers
Birmingham, AL

Jan L. Peterson on sat 16 aug 03


Thanks. I'm selling nada. Nothing even gets picked up and hefted. Seems there
is only one spot out of all my shelves that anything is really seen.
Everything I've put in that one spot went nicely. Nothing else, and I was about to
tear my hair out. But a survey sounds like fun. Might even keep them around for
awhile, and something they saw might stick with them. Jan