One of my students recently posed this question to a well known production jeweler: “With galleries struggling and traditional craft shows in decline, wouldn’t it be better if we all just wore lots of jewelry as a way to promote ourselves?”
While I’ll leave you to ponder the first part of that statement (I can hear the dissenters in the comments already) what I really want to talk about is the second half. The idea that we should all be wearing our work more.
If you make any kind of wearables (jewelry, clothes, scarves, hats, bags) this should be a no brainer. But I’m always amazed to see makers who don’t wear their own products on a regular basis. In case it isn’t painfully obvious to you, hear are a few reasons you should make wearing your work a regular occurrence:
- It’s free marketing. Not many other marketing techniques are as inexpensive and effective as simply wearing your work. Of course, backing that up with a purse full of business cards makes it even more effective.
- It’s an icebreaker. If someone asks you what you do and you respond with, “I make jewelry,” the next question is inevitably, “are you wearing anything you made?” Besides avoiding an awkward moment if you weren’t wearing anything, it’s a great way to start up a conversation about your business and maybe even the indie maker community in general.
- Market research. By wearing your products, you can see what types of people respond favorably. Are they young or old? Trendy or classic? Do you get more comments at the grocery store or the mall? (This can tell you where your target audience shops and hangs out.)
- Product testing. Sometimes things don’t behave in the real world quite the way you had anticipated in the studio. Clasps aren’t strong enough. Purse handles get twisted. Zippers break. By continuously wearing your own products, you can experience (and fix) these problems before your customers do.
And so those of you who don’t make wearables don’t feel left out, you can certainly put the idea of use-as-marketing into practice for your own work. If you design stationary, vow to send more notes and cards. If you make ceramics, feature your own pieces heavily at your next party. (And use your pieces to bring food to other people’s parties.) Your paintings or photography should be prominently hung around your home. And I’m very envious of textile designers who can use their own fabric to recover a few chairs for their living room.
Just remember, if you don’t use your own work, how can you expect anyone else too?
So, how do you employ use as a marketing strategy?
PS. I’m really far behind in responding to everyone’s comments, but I just want you to know how much I appreciate them! So please, keep sharing your thoughts and participating in the discussions in the comments – they make for a much richer site!