by Carolyn Edlund
Create a mindset and professional presentation to fit the market and the collector you want to attract.
It’s not uncommon for artists to charge an unreasonably low price for their work, out of concern that their competition will get the business. They believe if they charge less, they will sell more work. But that’s not only unhealthy for a small creative business; it’s also backwards thinking.
Rather than price your work for the general public (many of whom may be bargain shoppers), take a more aspirational approach. Price your art for the market you want to be in. Position yourself in the marketplace purposefully. Support this position by establishing the value of your work with a powerful brand story and consistent marketing strategy.
You may be under the impression that customers select you, but it’s actually the other way around. You choose your customers. Let’s take a closer look:
Create for Your Target Customer
The designing you do, and the products you make, will be perfect for certain people, and not suitable for others. Let’s say you make stunning one-of-a-kind serving pieces that are perfect as high-end wedding gifts. Customers who can easily afford this type of gift may be members of an affluent circle of friends and peers. These people may not be similar to you at all; you might not “live in their world.” But you can be an artist whose work appeals to and sells to these customers.
Know Your Audience
Where do these affluent target customers shop? What brands do they buy, and what is the price range of those brands? Here’s where your research comes in, so that you come to know them well. If you want to have your work considered alongside expensive brands that are familiar to these shoppers, your price points should fit in as well.
In fact, if your prices are too low, customers would likely take a pass on your work and search for something different that fits within the budget they have in mind. They want to buy quality art or handmade items as a gift that clearly shows the recipient they have great taste and are quite generous. Does your work send that message?
Study your target customer’s motivations and habits. Come to understand what they value, and the prices they can afford. Brand your business and present your collection as professionally as possible, and do it with that customer in mind. Use marketing copy that “speaks their language” and that they will find relatable.
If you use beautiful high-end packaging, and plan for a premium unboxing experience, it will go a long way to justify the value of your art. Adding functions and using other strategies to increase perceived value also tells the customer that your work is worth the price.
Create an Experience
Shopping is fun for most people. Making a purchase of art or handmade work is an enjoyable experience. Every effort you take to increase perceived value, and to emotionally connect with the customers you have in mind will work towards turning them into buyers. When you reflect the look, sensibility and price range they seek, you will have found the right market for your work – and the highest price.
Then, offer topflight customer service which reflects the professionalism you project with your brand. This shows respect for your collectors, and conveys that you set a high bar for quality. After the sale, follow through with regular communications that builds relationships and encourages repeat patronage.