The focus of this month’s meeting of the Nova Woodturners Guild was a journey into the mysterious world of pricing and marketing of craft items. The guest speakers were members Don Moore and Stephen Zwerling who both gave us lots of important and thought provoking ideas for selling our woodturned products.
The meeting opened with an acknowledgement and a big round of applause for Rona, ‘The Canadian How-To People’ for opening their doors to us and allowing us to hold our future meetings here. This was followed by a short business session that included a club financial report and club website update.
From there, Don Moore took the floor and gave us a great review of the marketing options available to us. He interspersed his presentation with hints, tips and information gained through his own experience as a professional seller of art and craft.
Don spoke about many of the different avenues to sell our wares including craft shows, galleries, auctions, agents, collectors and cooperatives. Another very viable option that he mentioned was networking through associations. With each of these options he included an overview of the things to look for. For example, when checking out a craft show look at the floor layout, the displays, your competition, talk to the vendors and even the customers. Then ask yourself, “Is the floor layout conducive to maximum sales?”, “Are the displays of the quality and/or type that you are seeking?”, “Is there a lot of competition?”, Is there no competition?”, “Are the vendors happy with the results?”, “Are the customers enjoying the shopping experience?” “Do you want your products displayed here?”
These are just examples of what one should ask themselves when deciding on a venue with the point being, and he repeated this often, “Do your homework!” In addition to this cardinal rule was another, “During a show always maintain the price, never lower it!”
Don also touched on the need for professionalism in your presentation and display. This included the requisite for quality business cards and brochures as they represent you and your work.
He concluded his presentation with a short question and answer period, fielding several questions from the members on the subject of marketing.
This was a great overview of this important side of ‘the business’. You may have a great product but if no one knows about it you will receive minimal sales. The responsibility is yours to get out there and tell everyone!
Stephen Zwerling followed with an Powerpoint presentation that dissected many facets of the pricing model for a craft business. Stephen is also a professional woodturner and his presentation came to us from many years of experience as well.
He reviewed and defined such topics as recognizing true market value, price point position and logistics. He also compared various pricing methods including cost of production analysis, market forces and ‘ego pricing’.
Using a spreadsheet model Stephen went through a costing scenario where he calculated the actual cost of production for making 100 ornaments. The importance is in the details and accounting for all factors that effect the true cost is a must. The visual impact of this process quickly made us realize how even simple things like our coffee breaks and ‘research’ time, which must be included, effects the bottom line!
Pricing your work can be a very complicated, and at times, heart-wrenching issue. From the value that a customer places on your work, to the price that other woodturners may have for similar items, to your own feelings about the value of your work, there are plenty of things that have to be considered. Not charging enough is probably one of the most common mistakes that woodturners make when they are pricing their wares. Ensuring that you consider ALL of your expenses can make the difference between success and failure.
Unfortunately time did not allow Stephen to go in to more depth, as he had planned. However, he made it quite clear throughout his presentation, that pricing your work is, first and foremost, a business decision that must remain apart from your creative side and is very much dependent on a business plan.
Special thanks to both Don and Stephen for sharing this one-two-punch on marketing and pricing with us. It certainly gave us a comprehensive overview, definitely something that we can ‘take to the bank’!
Although there wasn’t enough time for Show and Tell there were several beautiful items that members brought in on display:
This was another great meeting, due in part to the 36 people in attendance. The only thing that could have made it better would have been for it to last longer… but alas!, all the meetings are like that… 😉
Back to the shop….