There are plenty of things that sell, not because your customer actually needs them, but because they’re pretty and nifty and look good on the shelf. If those things look better in a set that your customers can collect, so much the better – it keeps them coming back to you and making more purchases. Here are 10 things you need to know when considering your next handmade collectible line:
- There are different kinds of collections. Some collectors may buy every rooster figurine they can get their hands on; others buy furniture to decorate their dollhouses. Not all collectors focus on just buying everything one artist or crafter ever created. You need to think in terms of those different types of collections and how what you make fit into more than just your own body of work. If you sell a rooster figurine, for instance, you may need to connect with other makers of roosters and market your wares together.
- Collectors have to be able to find the different pieces of your collections. If you’re trying to build interest in a set of collectibles, rather than just one piece, you need to make sure that it’s clear that you’ve got a full set available. Link between the pieces, show photographs of the specific item you’re selling in among the rest of the collection and generally make it clear to your buyers that your collectible fits into what they collect.
- But there should be a little work in completing a whole set. It’s important to remember that collectors aren’t just in it to wind up with a bunch of stuff collecting dust on their shelves. There’s an adventure in collecting certain pieces — the buyer needs to do some work to get a hold of one of those perfect pieces, even if it’s just waiting for a seasonal item to come on the market. Make sure that there’s that sense of adventure at work when a buyer starts collecting. Make the process memorable (in a good way), so that every time the buyer looks at the pieces she’s bought from you, she has to smile.
- Most collectors want a way to display their collections. As you’re building out our product line, consider what it’s going to take to display each of the items you’re offering. You should probably be testing out attractive displays in order to get good photographs for your marketing materials already, but take it a step further if you can. When you’re chatting with a customer, can you recommend a particular stand to ensure that their collection is showed off to full advantage?
- The differences between handmade products can be both a draw and a downside. If you make each of your products by hand, they aren’t going to be perfectly identical across every production run. That can be both good and bad in the eyes of a collector. If you can show a collector that her collection is going to be truly unique — that there’s a piece that no one else ever will have — you can help a buyer see an additional value to buying handmade. But if your buyers are worried about quality and at least some similarity to your pattern, they’re going to be less interested in adding your item to their collection.
- Rare items can be very appealing to collectors. As a crafter, you have no obligation to make enough of your products for each collector to have one and, in fact, creating a limited number of a certain item or only making it available for a certain period of time can make it more appealing to buyers. Scarcity can help you reach higher price points, even with buyers who plan to make multiple purchases with you. But if you do limit the availability of one of your products, you have to stick to that limitation. You can’t come back and make more later or your early buyers will feel like they got a raw deal.
- New additions to your collection need to be timely. If you go too long between giving your customers a chance to add to their collection, they may lose interest. It can make sense to tie your schedule to holidays or other key points on the calendar, just to ensure that you’re creating something new regularly.
- Existing collectors can introduce you to new collectors. It’s only natural that someone who enjoys your products will want to get at least one of their friends in on the action, if only so they have someone to discuss their own collection with. Create an easy entry point into your collection, such as a starter set or a sale where a collector gets a new item for her own collection and one for a friend. Your existing customers may surprise you with how many other buyers they introduce to you.
- Your buyers will give you ideas on how to expand your collection. Especially if you build solid relationships with your clientele, you can expect the occasional message asking, “Why don’t you offer this?” It might be a new design or an ideal piece. While one message isn’t enough to get you well into creating an entire new product, such suggestions may provide you with guidance for where to explore next.
- A collection can be an ongoing relationship. If you create something that wins over dedicated collectors — people who will buy everything you create as soon as it comes out, you’ve made your work a lot easier. But you do need to nurture those relationships. You need to have ways to stay in touch during the times when there’s nothing new to sell or when a collector is budgeting her purchases. That can take the form of a newsletter or a blog, or something entirely different, provided whatever you do makes it easy for your collectors to stay in touch with you.
Collectors can make a seller’s life a lot easier. After all, a customer who keeps coming back and buying more from you will always be more valuable than someone who only makes one purchase. Invest the time to build the right collections for your buyers.