Satisfied customers are your best advertising.
We have spent a lot of money for ads in the phone book, on local radio stations and in newspapers and magazines, but none have paid off like the glowing words of our happy students and glass artists. They tell everyone who might have the slightest interest in making stained glass pieces about our classes, and they share the word about our stained glass tools and supplies with fellow glass artists. Of course, a student’s beautiful finished work is our most convincing ad!
Always carry your business cards
A good supply of business cards is the next best and most inexpensive advertising tool. Have them professionally made and unique to you and your business. I like to have a lot of color in mine, and sometimes add a picture of a custom panel we have designed and made. Always carry your cards wherever you go and don’t be afraid to give them to everyone you meet. Even if they aren’t interested in stained glass, they probably know someone who is.
Local craft shows can be gold mines.
Early on in our business we found that people love stained glass panels, but often can’t afford the price tag. As a result, we started making small suncatchers that provided unique souvenirs for tourists, and great gift items for locals. The smaller items sold so well that I decided to try selling at some local art/craft shows. While the big art shows proved too expensive for me (suncatchers don’t generate huge profits), there were a number of small shows at local churches, YMCA’s, Activity Centers and mobile home parks offering opportunities to sell, and asking for much lower entry fees.
At first I teamed up with a friend who sold jewelry, thinking we could split the fees and cut both our costs as well as our potential losses. But we didn’t lose! From the first show we made our entrance fees back, and also earned a little profit. In the process, I learned that these shows were a great opportunity to let people know about our store, and also to recruit students for our classes. I created my own brochures, fliers and specialty handouts for each event, and we always got new customers! Most of all, I talked up the opportunities in stained glass and got to know the customers a little so they would be comfortable entering a new store. I encouraged them to visit within the week, and often gave coupons or a list of specials available only to them.
Most stained glass artists can’t resist stopping to check out another glass artist’s work. When they do, be enthusiastic. Tell them you sell supplies and glass and are a local business. Invite them to stop in. It’s a better opportunity than you would expect.
People love to get something free. One of my most successful handouts was a little paper “bundle” I copied from a free template available at Mirkwood Designs. I customized the basic design with our store name, address, phone number and a list of services we offered. The sides folded in, and I sealed each with a glass nugget. People were lining up to get one, and later several people came into the shop carrying them. Unlike a business card, it was a fun little fidget they could keep and enjoy!
Another successful promo item was a small paper fan, printed with “I’m a fan of Stained Glass One” and listing our address and phone number. I gave them out during a hot afternoon outside show, and once again I had folks coming to me to get them. In the past I also handed out matchbook memo pads, origami-style folded cards and a credit card holder. I am amazed at how many folks come into the studio months after an event and show me they still have the item and use it regularly.
Brochures and fliers are great reminders.
Once a prospective customer walks away from a conversation with you, especially at a craft show or similar event, they are quite likely to forget everything you told them. If they walk away with a colorful flier or well-made brochure, the information will be at their fingertips when they are ready to make a visit or take a class. We print our own using paper purchased at the local Office Depot and our own color printer. We often choose paper printed with tropical scenes as our background, as it suits our area and is pleasing to locals and tourists alike. You can choose something well-suited to your area. We list the whole variety of services we offer. Someone who would never take a class might have a panel that needs to be prepared, or may consider a gift certificate for a family member who works in the art.
Local Newspapers and magazines reach local customers.
Many of our local newspapers, both free weeklies and regular circulation publications, have “classes” and “activities” listings. Since these are things community people are generally interested in attending, the papers offer to print your information for free. Check it out.
Because we are in a tourist area, there are several little magazines which are given away free at local stores and information centers. Some of these also have “classes” and “activities” sections and allow you to list for free. Check to see if there are any available in your area.
Don’t forget your computer.
When we first started selling, we got a friend to set up a website (my website) with general information about our store, including who we are, what we do, what hours we are open, etc. It was also a great place to showcase our work. Immediately I began submitting it to any free online directory I could find. There are many sites which list craft suppliers in local areas, or specific work in your field (for example, we are listed on the Spectrum Glass site as glass retailers for our area). Do an online search, or check the link below to get started.
Craig’s List is a wonderful, free service for advertising classes, supplies and completed stained glass pieces. We have had immediate and consistent success with the local chapter
Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are wonderful for notifying others about your website, items for sale, etc. I also love the interaction with others who share my interests. I have gotten many tips and much assistance from my “tweeps” online. Try it out – it’s free..