Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter-A Message Beyond The Religious
Some people associate Easter with the resurrection of Christ, but if we look at its broader implications to all people of all belief systems the take-home message is really one of hope and regeneration.

Think about it; the common tradition of hunting for brightly colored Easter Eggs is inherently about pleasant surprises, beauty in otherwise simple things, comforting and happy images of adorable bunnies, and other baby animals that symbolize youth, freshness, and life full of possibility and wonder.
Trees are budding, crocuses sprout from their slumber and pop forth their cheerful colors in shades of purple, and birds begin to stir in the trees, chirping as the sun comes up each morning signalling the beginning of Spring.

This is a time to take stock, evaluate where you are, and where you need to go from here, clean out the old, and phase in the new.

For many art based businesses, this year, even more so than years past, this is a time to fine tune one's operations and to decide which baskets we place our "eggs".
For some this may mean doing more shows, and for others looking for more stores through which to sell our wares, and/or it may involve looking at new ways to reach out to customers in existing venues to affect the perceived usefulness of the product.
One way I do this is to try to think of every possible use one might have for the products I sell and promote these uses along with the product. This doesn't always work, but it is one more tool you can utilize.

Think of each potential customer as not just that person but as a social network. Ask yourself who they buy for beyond buying for him or herself.

That person themselves when first viewing your product may not immediately think of all possible uses for it, so something you suggest may jog their memory and turn a view into a sale.

Does this customer have a daughter who is getting married next month?

Does she have a sister whose birthday is coming up?

Is this person a young man with a girlfriend who just happens to love pearls and he might want to buy her something for an upcoming dinner date?
Maybe the person now viewing your unique greeting cards needs a special Mother's Day card that has a message he or she just can't find in a commercial store.

Customization is always popular. A name, a color, a specific stone, or other image that has special sentimental value to that person or their loved-one may make it worth spending the cash they are holding onto.

With so many demands on an often tight budget people want to get something they feel justifies their spending it on a non-necessary item. The potential buyer may feel guilty about spending any unnecessary money, but this can be offset by the value the item imparts upon their lives and the lives of others they might give it to.

Take for example a veterinarian whose livelihood depends on maintaining a steady stream of regular customers.  That vet may find it advantageous to buy hand-made dog treats from your small business because giving these away to his customers while they wait in the waitingroom helps to cement the relationship and builds loyalty.  Some vets already offer this, and others may not have thought of it yet. If you mention this in your advertising, on business cards, or in talking to people one-on-one you may gain some buyers that had not considered before that this will help them build and maintain loyalty in their customers!
Similarly, hair ties may go over well in hair salons. These can be great as add-on point-of-purchase items at checkout, or as giveaways with services that the salon wants to sell more of. Spending $30.00-$40.00 on a bunch of hair ties for the salon owner just might bring in several hundred or more dollars in business, so although there is some initial investment, the expenditure pays off and is not frivolous.

Gifts make people feel appreciated and loved and employers might want to give these as incentives or rewards for a job well done, especially if they cannot afford to give raises this year. With job descriptions expanding beyond salaries any little token of appreciation throughout the year can help to remind workers that their contributions in the workplace have not gone unnoticed.
By the same token, supplies enable potential buyers to do many things which expand beyond the face value of the product itself. They can be used to create items for re-sale, to create lower-cost gifts instead of spending more money on finished items from a commercial store, they can be used to decorate one's home, to entertain children, or to give as charity offerings to organizations that use crafting/art as part of their programs to help others less fortunate.

If you're a teacher you know that the budget for art has continued to shrink, especially in the public school system, so buying supplies for the classroom can enrich your curriculum. When your students learn the valuable lessons that art and fine craft can illustrate, the returns are immeasurable! Besides, this is a prime opportunity to teach children why it's important to support small business/micro-enterprise.

Whether you own a business that markets handmade art or fine craft items, know someone who does, or whether you live outside that construct and work in a more traditional field, Easter and the beginning of Spring carry a universal theme. Today brings with it yet another opportunity, and the greatest value is not of material things themselves; rather demand's driving force is the relationships they forge in our lives.


Plantress said...

you make some good points. Lots to think about.

Nina said...

wow, very interesting post :)

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