Marketing at Events

May 19th, 2010

One of the most frequently asked questions after the Fair that comes up with alarming frequency is “Can you tell me where I bought XYZ product?  Which one of your vendors sells that?”  Ummm. I suppose if it is polar bear fleece and I have only one vendor that sells polar bear fleece that might be an easy question but…Yarn? Fleece? Roving? Sweaters? Scarves? Hats? Buttons?  I’ve been asked about all of those!

What dismays me most is – whoever that is just lost a sale!  What’s more, frequently the person has recommended the product to others and both she/he AND their friend are looking to buy more! YIKES!

Let’s talk about how to make sure the customer can easily find you and your event organizers don’t ever get asked this question.

  1. Make a sign! Identify your business clearly in your booth.  If you are a fiber arts business – make one that goes with your business – if you felt, felt one! If you do handspun – knit one! Yes, that takes time.  Work on it and in the meantime – get one made that is unique and has your logo clearly on it.  It should be large enough to see from across a room. Some vendors have 8 ft or 10 ft signs that go across the back of their booths.  Others have 6 ft signs that hang vertically.  However you do it – put your own unique stamp on it – your logo – your colors and your web site.  Some events furnish paper signs – don’t use them.  YOUR sign represents  YOUR business and will make YOU stand out.
  2. Identify ALL your products. Sure, if you sell commercial products like yarn, you can’t put your label on it – but you can put it on your price stickers. There are so many types of printable labels out there now – get some and use them.  Put your logo and web site on all price stickers! (Make sure your price stickers stay stuck, too).
  3. Get a deal on business cards and order lots of them (you get volume discounts). Put one in or on each bag. Printed bags are expensive but business cards are inexpensive – use them – liberally!  Have a card basket on each shelf grouping, have another at your check out point. Make sure they are ALWAYS full during the event (check them in the am, at lunch, mid afternoon, whenever business slows down).
  4. Receipts – again, custom receipts might be too expensive – have a rubber stamp made with your logo, name and web site or phone number, and always carry a filled inkpad and stamp your receipts!  You could use stamps on other labels, too.
  5. Get ahead of the pack and get a program ad – people keep programs from events. They want to refer back to them. Those that have a nice visual ad in the book will get more notice. Think about it – we often get magazines and read the ad sections first to see what’s new and who has a special going – same goes for program books, only people refer back to them and sometimes frequently.
  6. Run an event special. Even if you are only giving a few dollars off one item, event specials pull more people into your booth.

Once you’ve identified yourself so that folks know where to go to buy more AFTER the event… You do events to make sales at the event. Your second goal should be to build your customer base. All of the above will help you do that – however, set out to be more proactive. You are the captain of your ship!

  1. Announce on your web site that you will be at the event and encourage your customers to find you. You may think that this is not necessary when the event is far away – not so! People love to travel to attend events.  They plan their vacations around them. So – make sure you encourage your customers to follow you – a surprising number of them will!
  2. Build your customer base. People who attend events will discover you at the event.  Make sure you keep in touch with them. Don’t assume they will only purchase from you at an event! Collect mailing list/email list information. It can be as simple as putting a sign up sheet at your check out point and filling in a couple of lines to get it going (use your friends’ information or family members… no one wants to be the first one to sign up). Or – have a give away during the day – encourage people to sign up and pull a name mid-afternoon and give away something – you’ll collect a lot more names.  Make them come back to your booth to win – that will bring them back for more purchases later. This is a really good way to introduce your product to people who may not otherwise purchase it for whatever reason.
  • When you get home from your trip make it a PRIORITY to enter those names into your contact list. You can use Excel and Outlook to create a contact data base and email merge. Or get yourself an inexpensive program and be religious – enter those names and send out a note thanking your new customers for signing up. Give them some news – your next show, an upcoming workshop in your shop – a sale. You want to create a community at your shop – that builds a loyal customer “family” and you want to contact them soon after the event to get them started and to remind them about your business.
  • Do a monthly or quarterly email. Just a “newsy” little email with whatever you have going on – but keep in contact. Talk about new products you are getting in, what’s new in your dyepot, tell them about the lambs – whatever you have going on. It doesn’t have to be long – just a friendly note. Fundraisers and professional sales people will tell you it takes 7 times to make a sale. Probably not so much is needed when people have bought from you and you are keeping in touch. What you are doing is reminding them about you – and that will generate more sales for you AFTER the event. It will also ensure that they come back and buy more from you the next time you are at the event. You will be proactively increasing your sales each year at the event.

Other important tips:

  1. Smile – always. Don’t complain to customers, ever – don’t complain about the event, or the lack of sales, or how little sleep you got. Smiles=sales.
  2. Make sure you have enough space – make your booth spacious enough that people feel comfortable entering and can move around. Don’t overcrowd your booth – if you need more space for more product –get more space. The worst thing at an event is to have your booth so crowded people can’t get in. Great if it is crowded with people – but if that is too frequent – think about getting more space. You have no idea how many sales you are losing because people couldn’t get in and thought they’d come back later…how many do and how many don’t?
  3. Create a space for talking to your customers that is out of the aisles – again, you don’t want to be blocking your aisles. Make a space around your checkout counter where people can stop and chat with you. (But make sure you aren’t blocking the entrance to your booth). Be aware of space requirements at the event – you may not be welcome to chat with too many people outside your booth because it reduces traffic flow in the main aisles at the event. Fire Marshals do come through to do inspections and that may get you (and the event) cited and fined.

Follow the above and not only will you increase your sales at the event, but all year long.

Marketing Artwork: Separation from Art

March 14th, 2010

I’ve been noticing how standing in a booth at an event and trying to sell your work affects people.  It does, and not always for the better. I understand this because I’ve both sold my own work – but more recently, it happens to me when I send out a great email update about the Fair and people come back with “Remove me from your list”.  Oh…  Was it something I said?  Did I send too many emails?…And it happens every time I send out an email update – at least once.

I think it has to do with superstores.  We used to all shop at the local stores – let’s say a butcher shop, or a florist, or a bakery.  The products were made locally, sometimes by the shopkeeper.  And you went in and bought what you liked and asked them how they were doing and…exercised a little tact.  You knew the person talking to you probably was back in the kitchen earlier baking your cookies, or carving your roast, or…whatever.

Nowadays though – we go into the superstore and…how many levels removed are we from the person who made whatever it is we are buying?  Let’s see, there’s the buyer, the distributor, the store and the clerk is generally a high school or college kid earning money for school.  So you can say, “Ew! That smells bad!”, right out loud and nobody gets offended.

Not so in an art fair or a fiber fair or any fair. Let’s say the artist is a colorist who has dyed a whole lot of yarn in her signature colors, or someone who has painstakingly created a great pattern/kit, or a painter, etc , etc.  They’ve spent lots of time at it – creating unique colors with dye or paint, shades and highlights, trying fibers, etc.  In short, they’ve put a piece of themselves into their work, their heart, their spirit.  Even those of us who knit for ourselves…a little bit of ourselves goes into everything we make.  And then you are in a booth and someone says: “Ew! Can you believe those ugly colors?”  Wow – that is personal rejection in the flesh.  Or, somebody says “Remove me from your email list”.  Same thing.

So – how do you deal with it?  First, realize the person isn’t rejecting you. Easier said than done, but it really is the truth.  That person is used to going to superstore and not thinking about what they say.  That person is used to dealing with automated lists on the internet, too : )

Second…realize that YOU are your best asset and you provide the customer service to your clientele, so you can’t afford to let it get you down.  Ask them what they don’t like about the colors – or the yarn.  I’ve done that with people who ask to be removed from my list and guess what – they’ve moved or it was a previous employee who signed up and they no longer are at that email address…and so it isn’t really personal at all.

I know a gal who has a real artistic temperament.  She’s a great artist – does wonderful colors….but if someone said they didn’t like her stuff to her face – I know she would be totally crushed, or worse, she’d get really angry.  And, the other problem?  Like most of us, she’s humble about her work – it’s just something that she does and she doesn’t realize just how difficult what she does is for most people…and how good she does it.  It’s become easy for her.  She isn’t the best sales person because she can’t say it’s a beautiful job or how great her products are.  So – she teaches and does very well with that and has someone who loves her products do her sales in her booth.  It’s a beautiful solution because her sales person can sell her stuff MUCH better than she can.  They can say “this is a superior product” with total confidence because they believe it is, and they don’t have all the personal baggage that comes with something you create yourself.

For those of us who can’t have someone sell our products for us – knowledge is power.  Now that you know what is affecting you and why – it’s a little easier to develop a tougher skin.  Try to realize that when you lose a sale, it isn’t a rejection of you.  Also, keep in mind that these folks aren’t used to buying things directly from the artist – we’ve lost that in today’s society.  They’ve lost the art of tact when it comes to shopping.    And, keep believing in yourself and most importantly – keep smiling.  Just the act of smiling makes you feel better!  And, as important for your success, smiling attracts people to your booth.

Marketing Your Artwork: Part 3: Getting Down to Marketing

February 22nd, 2010

Marketing really means letting people know about your business, your product, or your art. According to Wikipedia: “Marketing (or advertising) is the process by which companies advertise products or services to potential customers.  It is an integrated process through which companies create value for customers and build strong customer relationships in order to capture value from customers in return.”  It is the most important aspect of your business, after development of the product or art that you are selling. It isn’t rocket science and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are many tools and products that you can use to effectively market your business.

Now that you have a business name and a logo, let’s talk about how you can put these to work for you. There are several tools that you MUST have to market your business successfully. Let’s start with the most basic and one of the most versatile: Business Cards.

Business Cards
No matter what business you are in, you must have a business card. This is the most personal way to advertise your business because you hand it out – person to person. The more personal the delivery is, the better customer service you are providing, the more effective your marketing. People will remember you. It can also be used as an effective mail market tool and you can even email your business cards. Another great use for a business card, especially when you are starting up and want to be more cautious about spending – it makes a great tag to put on your product. Never let your products walk out the door (or booth) without your contact information!

It is relatively inexpensive to get bulk business cards made on the internet. Local businesses are now competing with those prices, so you may be able to get a good deal at a local print shop as well, so shop around. Before you can buy them though, you need to design them. Most word processing programs will allow you to do a business card, there are even templates, so let’s talk about a few rules – the rest you can learn about on the internet, but these are important:

Don’t use templates. Templates are available through most software. Please don’t use them. Remember what we said about clip art being generic? Templates are too. You’ve gone through the trouble of doing an original logo, don’t put it in a generic template!

Don’t use more than 3 fonts- the fewer fonts, the better in a document as small as a business card. Your logo doesn’t count. So, in adding text for your contact information – try to use one or possibly two fonts. Italic versions of a font count, so if you use the roman version and the italic version of say Times that counts as two fonts. Simple is better.

Use white space. White space helps emphasize the information on your card – and that information is the point of the card.

Line things up. You can have two sections – one for your logo and one for your contact information – you can create a visual line by lining up the text.  It will look messy and hard to understand if your text is all over.
Make sure your card includes ALL your contact information. It should have name, title, business name, phone, fax, cell phone if appropriate, mailing address, email and web site.

A note about email: Establish an email address for your business and use an appropriate business-like name (not a nickname) for your business email. Try to avoid hotmail and gmail addresses because people change those frequently. You want potential customers (who use gmail and hotmail themselves) to know you’ll still be there when they contact you. For that reason it is best to get your own domain and set it up as your business email and website (they should match).

A note about websites: You should have one – it is your business flyer and gives your business stability (important when you are setting up your business) and credibility. You want to have your own domain name – something appropriate for your business.  You don’t have to make an entire catalog of your business right from the start – make a page that is like your business card to start – you can develop more information as you go.  Your website is like a flyer or catalog advertising your business – start with the basics and build from there. We’ll talk about web sites later – for now, please don’t apologize or say you are “under construction” on your web site. Use your business card, include ALL your contact information, and include a nice photo. For those of you who use your home address as your business address, potential customers like to see an address – rather than not have one, use a PO Box.  Make sure your contact information is right up and front, don’t make people go searching for it!

Back to Business Cards: There are lots of graphic design business portfolios that include business cards on the web. Look at them to get inspiration for your design if you want to do it yourself. If you hire someone, go for an original design instead of choosing one of their private templates. The professional look of your business card sells your product and creates credibility for you as a business—keep that in mind at all times when designing your card. Truly, the design and look can give you a huge leg up in your marketing.

Last note – you want to develop a professional “look” for your business. Your look should be consistent across all your forms, website, etc. For that reason it is a good idea to design your stationery, notecards and web header at the same time you develop your business card design. Being consistent in your design adds familiarity to your business that your customers will begin to recognize. The look works with your logo to establish your brand/identity as a business.

Order at least 1000 business cards and then make it your mission to distribute them! You should always have a few hundred in your car – hand them out wherever you go. Always keep some with you in your wallet, briefcase, purse, pocket, or whatever you always carry with you.

Next up: We’ll talk about marketing and goals for shows and events.

Marketing Your Artwork: Creating a Visual, Part 2

February 11th, 2010

Here’s an example of when it is appropriate to change your logo: I wanted to create a logo for the Fair that was a play on fiber and folk, and so I choose the iconic folk art piece Grant Wood’s American Gothic  to use as inspiration for a tongue-in-cheek representation.  I created all the artwork myself, using a gothic arch as the shape and including a barn, and the “famous” couple.  In my case the farmer was from an old cabinet card photo (it was drawn, in vector format) of my great, great uncle, Martin Hurney, circa 1900. The wife was another cabinet card from an earlier era (late 1800’s) of an unknown ancestor with a cool hairdo. They represented “folk”.  I dressed them in garb very similar to the painting.  I put a sheep (a Blue Leicester) between the two with his “arms” around their shoulders and a distaff in front (instead of the pitchfork) and that brought in the “fiber”.  It got some good reviews.  However, it was pointed out to me that the Art Institute of Chicago owns the copyright for American Gothic  and the painting was celebrating its 100th anniversary, and so receiving more-than-usual attention.  I was warned that in using such a piece as a logo without permission, I was risking a lawsuit for copyright infringement – even though I used none of the original piece in my logo.  I looked up the law on that, found out it is a $250,000 fine and decided that discretion is the better part of valor (and I don’t have $250,000) and changed my logo.  So, this all goes to prove that there are compelling exceptions to every rule!

So, on to develop a new logo! After the first event I created the perfect slogan for the Fair, “Come Celebrate the Work of Our Hands”. Perfect, because that is what the Fair is all about, from market to workshops to art show to demonstrations – the work of our hands. I choose to use the slogan as inspiration for the logo, rather than “fiber and folk”.

Let’s talk a bit about slogans. Wikipedia suggests an effective slogan:

  • states the main benefits of the product or brand for the potential user or buyer
  • implies a distinction be between it and other firms’ products – of course, within the usual legal constraints
  • makes a simple, direct, concise, crisp, and apt statement
  • is often witty
  • adopts a distinct “personality” of its own
  • gives a credible impression of a brand or product
  • makes the consumer feel “good”
  • makes the consumer feel a desire or need
  • is hard to forget – it adheres to one’s memory (whether one likes it or not), especially if it is accompanied by mnemonic devices, such as jingles, ditties, pictures or film

I chose to use my slogan as my logo. You don’t have to do this, or include your slogan in your logo, but in my case, it made sense. A slogan is not as necessary to your business as your logo, but if you are in a business with a lot of competitors, consider developing one – it will set you apart. You may not come up with your slogan until you’ve been in business for a while, as I did. I had to do the first Fair and experience it before I was inspired. If you have your logo done and later come up with a slogan you want to add to it, unless you have a compelling reason to change your logo, try to keep it the same and add the slogan to it.

Hands

I chose the hands to be the visual.  I have always been fascinated by hands. I used to watch my grandmother’s hands as they created their magic – soothing hurts, tenderly touching, or working on some project. The Hands I use are open hands that are not palm up, as if asking for money, but palm down – busy hands. Hands that are working. The attitude of the hands is suggested by the placement of the thumbs – if they had been palm up, the thumbs would be to the outside – try it yourself and see.

Circle of HandsI wanted the hands joined together in a circle. I like circles – they symbolize infinity, unity, strength, and suggest the longevity of fiber arts. Fibers, after all, were one of the first tools, perhaps the first tool, that man made. They have been around a very long, long time. They suggest the interconnectedness of fiber arts. One of the building blocks of the Fair is that most of us don’t do just one fiber art – we do six!  They are also hands joined together in a ring of celebration. And last, the attitude of the hands also suggests “Ta da!” These particular hands are doing a LOT of symbollic work in this logo!

Slogan added to handsThe colors of the hands symbolize several things: it suggests the diversity of people: age, gender, race, nationality. It also suggests the different fiber arts and folk arts represented at the Fair. Since the colors have different values, I can convert them to grayscale (black in various concentrations) and still show that diversity.

The slogan sits above the hands and is a part of the logo itself.

MFFAF Logo

Last comes the name of my business/event. I had developed this part of the logo with the first “fiber and folk” version of my logo (see first paragraph) and kept it the same to provide continuity. The font is “immortal” a font I liked because it is elegant and you don’t see it often. It also has, to me, a folksy kind of look and the round, openness of the lower case letters suggests openness and Midwestern values. I replaced the “o” in folk with an image of a heart done in rosmaling, a folk painting technique done in Scandinavia. I know it is rosmaling because I painted it myself originally, and converted it to a drawing. I have used this logotype font and heart in a logo for my website url as well – it provides continuity. I put the type in the center of the circle, so it is the hub that attracts all of the diverse people and fiber arts. Most people do not consciously think of all of that when they see the logo. It is bright, cheerful, and appealing. However, those I have asked to comment on the logo, once they study it, do respond pretty consistently with most of the above. So, it works!

To recap – your logo is a unique trademark for your business that symbolizes what you are about and can also portray your company slogan and/or values. It should be simple in design, done in a vector format, convert easily from color to black & white, and be easy to recognize. It is one of the hardest working assets of your business!

Marketing Your Artwork Part 2: Creating a Visual

February 5th, 2010

A logo, short for logotype, is a visual representation of your company used to promote instant public recognition. They are important.  IBM, NBC, CocaCola, Red Cross, and Motorola, to name a few, have logos that are *instantly* identified – you don’t even have to think about them. Imagine that you are at a trade show or festival event and your booth is in a sea of other vendor booths. A sign with your logo is visible from a long distance away, and so your customers have an easier time finding you. A logo gives you an easily recognizable identity. It is the symbol or mark of your company, your brand, your values, your goals.

You can create your own logo if you have the software. If you don’t have the software or are not used to creating logos, it is one of the things I recommend that you hire someone to do for you. It is worth the price and again, just like your business name, it is something that you don’t ever want to change once you put it out in public view. Your logo is one of the hardest working assets of your business. Your logo will pay for itself in the first year. A professional logo doesn’t have to be expensive; you can get one made for around $200-$500, maybe less: from Wikipedia: When Phil Knight started Nike, he was hoping to find a mark as recognizable as the Adidas stripes, which also provided reinforcement to the shoe. He hired a young student (Carolyn Davidson) to design his logo, paying her $35 for what has become one of the best known marks in the world (she was later compensated again by the company).

There are a few rules about logos that are important to understand whether you create your own logo or hire someone to do it for you. You want to be sure you get a good product.

  1. Logos should be simple and timeless. They should be beautiful and represent your business, but they should be simple in design and easy to reproduce. You will use your logo in a variety of ways both in print and visual media – like your web site. It will be blown up large on signs, tiny on business cards. For this reason, you do not want to use a photo in or for your logo, or photo types of files (jpg, gif, png). (However, you will need a copy of your logo in one of those file types to put on the web). Vector files (drawings) create the best logo because they re are easy to change and keep in proportion, and always print crisp and clear. Look at the logos for the companies above (you’ll find them online) – many of them are simply text that is in a unique font and manipulated. You can use a small drawing with the text – Patternworks’ logo comes to mind – it is a font with character and the “o” is replaced by a ball of yarn.
  2. Don’t use clip art. You want your logo to be unique and represent YOUR business. Clip art is meant to be general and usable by anyone – your logo must be specific to you. Clip art is used by a lot of people in a variety of ways – it is not unique or meaningful enough to be a logo.
  3. Your logo must look good and print well in color or in black and white. You’ll be using it in a variety of ways. You want to keep your black & white options open so you can save money on some print jobs (like receipts). Again, ask for a vector file such as an Adobe Illustrator (.ai) or Encapsulated Post Script file (.eps). A good graphic designer will know this and should offer one to you.  Even if you can’t open the vector file with your software, printers will be able to do so with no problem. If you don’t have the software to open your vector file, ask for a high resolution pdf version of your logo as well. It is a very simple thing to save a copy of a vector file in a pdf format, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise or charge you extra for it.
  4. Identify your business. While it isn’t necessary to use your business name in your logo, it is a good idea. A lone red cross works for Red Cross because they have been around a long time and they are international. Their logo needs to be understood across languages and around the world. A smaller company, and especially a new business, should identify the name of their business in their logo.

Surf the web to get some ideas for your logo. Look at a variety of companies. Pay special attention to businesses that are similar to yours. Again, it may be tempting to do a logo like theirs – resist that temptation. In fact, do a very different logo. You want your business to be unique in your field of endeavor. Don’t try to look like your competition. Logos are the symbols of your business and values, if your competitor has developed customer service issues or other poor practices, even if they seem to be very successful, you don’t want to be confused with them. And if they are successful and perfect in every way, you still don’t want to be confused with them. Again, you are putting yourself in the position of disappointing their customers, who may be your customers as well one day. Your business, and you, deserve better.

If you plan to do your own logo, there are also a lot of graphic design books dedicated to logotypes. They are generally rather expensive, but you can get many of them at local libraries.

In the next article I’ll illustrate logo design by dissecting the logo for the Midwest Fiber & Folk Art Fair, which I created myself with Adobe Illustrator. I did change my logo after the first year, and for good reason. We’ll talk about when to break the rules, too.

Marketing Your Artwork: Part 1 – Establishing a Brand

February 1st, 2010

Marketing their work is a struggle for some artists.  Many of us are so involved in creating work and the idea of selling it is too detailed, or too frightening, or too far removed from our focus: creation.  However, most of us cannot afford to continue to create unless we sell our work.  There are a few simple things that you can do to help improve your marketing. Marketing isn’t rocket science, anyone can do it and do it well.  It doesn’t matter what type of artwork you create – from handspun yarn to fine painting, the marketing may differ a bit in the focus, but the steps for creating a good base are about the same. I thought it might be helpful to start a discussion about marketing artwork from the beginning, and I’ll keep posting, topic by topic.  I hope you’ll find this information helpful and please jump in and ask questions.

So, let’s start at the beginning.  You have a great product and you want to create a market for it.  First step – choose a name for your business.  There are a couple of steps to choosing a name for your business that, if you follow them, will help you realize the best results.

1) Pick a name that is easy to remember.  Short names are generally easier to remember than long ones.  There are exceptions, of course, for example, if it is a phrase that flows and makes a lot of sense. Jot names that appeal to you down on a list.  You may want to use your own name, that’s fine.   You may want to name your business in such a way that it describes what you do – that’s always a good idea.  Write down a few names that just pop into your head.  Try and get at least 10-25 possibilities.

2) Say each name on the list out loud, ask your friends, family, etc and pick your favorite three, then it’s time to do some homework.  Research those names.  Google them and see how many other businesses have the same or similar names.  Note where they are and how long they’ve been in business.  If there is a business in your state with the same name – I’d steer clear of using it.  If you plan to incorporate you’ll have a problem but even more important – people looking for you will find those other businesses and probably first, as they have been in business longer than you.  This is true even if the business is not in your state. You may think to yourself, well, if they have the same name maybe I’ll get their customers…True, but those customers aren’t looking for you – they are looking for the other business.  You are then in the position of disappointing them on your first encounter.  That is not something you want to do.  Also consider that the other business has spent some time building up their clientele, and those clients feel loyalty to the other business.  My best advice is if someone else is using the same business name, move on and pick another name.  If there are businesses with slightly different names, but close enough to cause confusion, don’t use those names either. The goal is to create something unique and memorable for YOUR business and YOUR future customers. If you are naming your business with your name (ie Carol Cassidy-Fayer) and there is another artist with the same name (not as unusual as you might think), you can still use your name.  However, think of a descriptive word to add to it, for example Carol Cassidy-Fayer Knitwear or Carol Cassidy-Fayer, Fiber Artist.  Or, you can shorten the name to something like Cassidy-Fayer’s Fiber Arts to make it different.

3) Once you’ve chosen your name and done the research to prove that future customers will not confuse you with another business – stick with it.  The very last thing that you should ever do is change the name of your business.  Everything that you do under that name will begin to collect customers for you.  The MOST important thing is that your customers find you! So, in making your final choice of name – be sure.  Give yourself some time if you are not sure.  Ask friends and go out and talk about it – the people you talk to may become your future customers!  In fact, if you have some customers already, ask them, too!

4) Be consistent in using your business name.  I’ve met people who use one version of their name at events (sometimes different versions at different events), or change it on etsy, or use another name on their web site.  DON’T do this.  Customers who find you at events and want to buy more before the next event will not be able to find you on the web/etsy, or at other events!  The most important goal you should have when attending events is exposure to the marketplace at that event.  Yes, sales at the event are great – but it’s the repeat sales that come back throughout the year that make even more money for you and keep your business going.  You want the name on your booth to match the name in the program and any advertisements you do at the event and other events. And – once your web site is established, you’ll want your web customers to be able to find you at events they attend.  So – always list your business name the exact same way.

Your name will become your brand.  Something that identifies you uniquely in your field. It is the first and most important thing that you can do to establish your business and the beginning of the marketing process!  Next up: Creating a Visual

Something of Value

January 31st, 2010

Yesterday my computer seemed to die.  I say seemed, because, thank goodness, it was a minor problem and is now fixed.  However, about the sixth time I tried to boot and it would not find the hard drive…well, it was not a pretty sight! (Hyperventilating…having files flash before my eyes)…

Eventually, I gave up trying to start it, clean it, spray canned air into it, etc. and decided I needed to knit.  I am working on slippers for my (big) son.  They were supposed to be done for Christmas, but due to many merry mix ups (order lost and not received until Christmas eve, etc) I am still working on them. Knitting would help me reduce my heart rate, give me space, bring me some peace and let me think about what, exactly, I was likely to lose since my last back up (mid-December), what I could reconstruct, what I’d emailed copies of to people, how I would rebuild.  I decided that, in all likelihood one of the “Fire Dogs” who all lost their jobs when Circuit City closed would probably be able to pull most of the files off my hard drive.  They can really work what seems like miracles these days.

And then my fingers and hands got into the rhythm of knitting and the tension began to leave me.  I realized that most of the time I knit while I listen to the radio or music or watch TV.  I’m one of “those” people who cannot sit still very long without my hands busy. I bring my knitting to the movies, family get togethers, kid’s concerts and events, waiting rooms, etc.  Before knitting it was spinning, crochet, embroidery, etc.  I have stitched my way, in one way or another, through my entire life.  The stitches mark each event, victory, set back, wait; winding their way through and around my days.

I sat in silence and listened to the click of the needles.  And then I realized that I was excited about these slippers.  They took on this *substantial* quality.  I thought “I am making something of value.  Something nice that will see a lot of wear” – my son is rather impatiently awaiting them and anticipating the warmth and comfort they will bring on the cold floors during these winter nights. How cool is that?  I’ve made a lot of socks, scarves, sweaters, hats, mittens, but somehow these slippers, with their leather soles seem…more.  And then I thought of all of the people who go every day to superstores and pick up slippers or socks or whatever garments they need and they don’t have the slightest clue how it feels to make it for yourself.  A lot of them don’t even think about it. But – some of them wish they could do it for themselves and to them, making a pair of slippers would seem like jogging up Mt Fuji…a very distant and lofty goal.  If they find the time and courage to get started, a teacher, mentor, or great book to guide them, and the patience to stick with it, they will be empowered.

It really feels good to create something of value with your own two hands.  It is…thrilling, exhilarating, joyous…to create.  And I realized that because I’ve been doing it throughout the days of my life that I lose sight of that exhilaration at times.  I get caught up in whatever else is going on.  I’m glad I was forced to step back and take a breather.  I’m glad I didn’t go down and turn on the TV, but sat in front of my blank computer in the silence of my office and reintroduced myself to the rhythm and the thrill of working with my hands, of creating.

PS. The computer had a loose cable and so the hard drive was not getting power.  It’s fixed now and I didn’t lose any files!

Great Knitting Trick!

January 24th, 2010

I learned a cool little trick at DIIP last week.  We’ve all had to deal with the cast on tails left (sometimes we are required to leave them) as we begin our projects.  They snarl and get tangled in our working yarn, etc.  A great way to get them out of the way is to wrap them around a bobbin.  Simply collect up all the little plastic clips that come on bakery good plastic bags – you know, the ones that hold the bag closed?  Wrap your tail around them so that it goes through the clip and into the little hole in the center.  They work like a charm!  Thanks to Sherry Johnson for this great idea!

That Creative Itch

January 17th, 2010

Have you ever had this idea in your head – it’s a picture, really, and you just HAVE to make it?  It is like a persistent itch that just won’t go away and you pick at it and slap at it and perhaps change it a bit (all in your head) but it just keeps on at you – waiting in the cracks between your thoughts at work when it pops up and takes you unawares.  I am beginning to sound a bit mad perhaps, but these sort of creative itches just have to be scratched!  It has been my experience that, when I try to scratch them, I go out shopping…and usually can’t find that particular shade of color or that particular blend of cloth or yarn that is in my head.  And that drives you more mad! That is how I began to spin, ummm, a few years ago…I hate to date myself, but I learned to spin just after my daughter was born and she is about to celebrate her 19th birthday.  Can it be that long?

So, that itch.  It gets you into a lot of trouble!  (I  am still spinning, when I have time and have a couple of wheels and a ton of spindles – I even started a spindle company, Lollipops). Speaking of my daughter, I had to make her a red wool coat.  (She was not quite 2 at the time).  I just had to do it.  It had to be red and it had to have pleats and a shawl collar and it had to have black velvet accents. Well…try to find wool cloth at the time, much less plain red wool cloth.  I went to shop after shop from Crystal Lake to Evanston looking for the stuff.  I didn’t need a lot – she wasn’t that big!  I finally found it at Finn’s Fabrics by Dyllis (I think that’s the right spelling) in Barrington.  That shop just closed recently…I’ll miss it!  And – I got to make the coat.  I finished it with black velvet and even made covered buttons.  Ahhhh.  Best part – I took my daughter to Marshall Fields (I miss them too) for our annual Christmas lunch and 3 people stopped and asked me where I got her coat…one even offered to buy it right off her back!  (No, I didn’t sell it).  I was amazed though – that coat came back in style the following year.  Isn’t that odd?

Well, the itch hit me again recently and that has led to my designing my first knitting pattern.  And that is a story for another article!

A Really Creative Mystery

January 17th, 2010

Just got finished reading “Three Bags Full” by Leonie Swann. It is a quite enchanting mystery that is solved by a flock of sheep!  Quite clever the way the author describes the sheep’s thought process, relationships, and their perspective on the humans that surround them.  Great read for a winter’s night.