Up until recently, I had never bought an original art piece from anyone. I have tons of art, but it’s mostly photographs and art prints. My budget just didn’t include original paintings, but I told myself I would start my collection this year, and I did, starting with a piece by Aaron Kraten.
I know probably hundreds of artists, so why did I choose to buy from Aaron? For one, I love his work. Not every piece speaks to me, but many do, and this one jumped out at me. That’s not the only reason I bought from Aaron though.
I’ve only met Aaron in person once, and he probably wouldn’t remember it, but more than a decade ago, he occupied a space in a popular shopping “anti-mall” called The Lab. It was a large space filled to the brim with Aaron’s art work and overabundant enthusiasm. He was fun and energetic and very friendly—I wish I could have bought something from him then, but in retrospect, I’m glad I waited because his work has grown so much since then.
I connected with Aaron again on Facebook a couple years ago, and though we aren’t really friends, we’ve had the occasional friendly conversation. As popular as he has become, he’s easy-going and approachable, lacking in any of the pompous attitude I sometimes experience from artists in Los Angeles.
Smile More! Your Customers Deserve It
Some artists don’t like their customers. They seem the customer as a necessary evil they must endure in order to make enough money to pay rent. Granted, some customers are worthy of a little hate, but I am always blown away by artists who complain about their customers in public, even if it’s only to a group of friends who know them well enough to take it with a grain of salt… or do they?
When I go to craft shows and talk with artists and crafters, I know immediately which ones are going to be people I can have an extended conversation with, and which ones will be a labored exercise. The artist the engage and interact are the ones I gravitate toward, and end up giving the most love to in my blog and on social media outlets. Meagan of Mome Wrath Garden is one. Tony of Genuine HaHa is another. No matter how many times I talk with them, they are always friendly, always engaging and at least pretend to be interested in what I have to say.
A smile goes a long way, but with some art and craft types, it can be tough to get them to look up from the book their reading at the booth, let alone smile and acknowledge someone. Perhaps the reason you have no one in your booth interested in buying is because you’re sitting their in the back with a frown as if you’re pissed no one is in your booth interested in buying.
Get over yourself. Stand up, put on a smile and pretend to appreciate ever living soul that walks past your booth. You might actually get the added bonus of feeling good about things if you’re smiling. If you’re in a crappy mood, just try smiling, or maybe a little chuckle to yourself and tell me it didn’t improve your mood just a little. Now repeat that process and stop be an ass to your potential customers.
The Friends You Make Today Pay Dividends Tomorrow
I may not buy everything Aaron, Meagan or Tony sell, but you better believe that I will pimp their stuff all day long every day. I think the next time I go to a show, I’m going to give out awards to people I feel have the best attitude. Maybe it will spur a trend and everyone at the show will be eager to please because they got a special button from a guy they hardly know, but they got it and their competitor didn’t.
Make friends with your customers. You don’t have to invite them over for tea and cupcakes, but there’s nothing saying you can’t give the impression that you might, if they continue buying all your stuff. You don’t have to be inauthentic, but at least show a little appreciation for the people that took time out of their day to come to the event and then spent a little of that time with you, whether they bought something or didn’t.
A Brand is an Impression
Your company’s brand is more than just a logo and fancy, letterpressed business card. When you put yourself into public spaces to sell products, your face and your attitude become as much a part of your brand. The impression people get from you is what they will associate with your products. You may have cool stuff and attractive packaging, but if your attitudes stinks, that will be what they remember, “Oh, it was cute, but that chick was a biyatch”.
Everything you do, either online or in person, becomes an extension of your company’s brand. Going out of your way to be friendly and courteous builds a bond with that person, who may not buy from you today, but they might tomorrow, or maybe tell a friend. Or, they start a blog about arts and crafts and shout your praises every chance they get.
Image: Aaron Kraten Art