Don't apologise for your price!
A friend and I met for lunch yesterday and had some time beforehand to peruse the bespoke shops and an art gallery.
In the Gallery, the artworks were lovely. A particular piece caught the eye of my friend. She had been looking for an artwork for one of her walls. This painting may have been it.
She asked the artist – so how much is this? Somewhat apologetically the artist replied with the price. But then hastily explained the paintings attributes (not benefits). We would have been more interested in the story behind the painting than it’s dimensions.
Over lunch my friend and I discussed the situation. Why would such a talented artist need to justify the pricing, especially when we were (we thought), clearly interested in the work? It’s seems its not an unusual predicament for artists (and consultants for that matter!).
We had paid a fixed price for lunch, I had bought some hand made cards and local wine at a fixed price – no negotiation offered or expected. So why when it comes to art – is price sometimes negotiable?
In my experience artists have trouble pricing their works. Not only pricing the work when it first goes to market but then ‘owning’ the price once it’s out there. Pricing, for artists, is not easy. There are so many variables – artist reputation (fame), the quality, size, medium used. Then there is how it is sold (direct, through an agent, gallery etc. ). But the hardest of them all is putting a value on their talent.
There are people who buy art to collect for building wealth – or people who just want something to place on an empty wall. These are not the tribe you will connect with. For the people you want in your gallery to them art is a personal pursuit. People either love it or can leave it. They connect with a piece – or they don’t. It might be the image, the colours, the emotional connection
The psychology of selling applies – if you are selling art or services – when a connection is made – it’s a transaction not a sale. Just as you have a few seconds when you meet someone to positively connect with them, the same holds true for your art. People generally buy art because they love it and it enriches their life.
In a retail environment you should be able to identify the signs a potential customer has made an emotional connection with your work at that moment and they might be interested to buy. But if you place too much emphasis on your need to sell (offering a discount) rather than their desire to buy – the sale might not go through and you will both be left dissatisfied.
Your potential customer may in fact lose interest if you insist on the discount as it discredits their desire and interest.
While it might feel that saying no, saying nothing, or not negotiating on price will reduce your sales – that will only be in the short term. Focus instead on finding the people who will value your talent and connect with your ideas. Apply this to your marketing with the theory of abundance – the idea there are enough people who connect with you – if you can find them – should help you be comfortable selling your work for what it’s worth - that is – the value you and others place on it.
Pricing – managing it, increasing it, increasing it – seems to be such a difficult part of the marketing mix for a small business – but of course it's a very important one. And pricing is not a simple equation such as the cost of goods plus some! Pricing need to consider your COGS as well as your USP, your target market, perceived value, uniqueness, number of items, and if there is any urgency attached to the delivery.
A few tips for artists on sales:
Price your artwork and own the value you place on it
Stop apologising – practice this. When you are asked the price – say the price and count to 10 – it will feel like 10 excruciating seconds – but if the customer wants more information they will fill the pause.
Don’t talk your customer out of a sale. If you have to talk – ask them questions.
Remember - if they’re not comfortable with your price, they can ask and you can negotiate — or not — it’s your art work, your reputation, your business.
Do you apologise / justify your pricing?