Ah, the joy of the sale. When someone (hopefully not just your mum) hands over some of their hard earned cash for something you’ve created from an idea in your head. There really is nothing quite like it as a seal of approval, but it’s something incredibly hard to get right.
Some people are born with the ability to sell, others acquire it, some spend years reading every help book and article written on the subject and still couldn’t sell a bucket of water to a bloke in burning trousers.
In part one we talked about designing your products. In part two we discussed how to get them produced whilst in part three we chatted about how to finish them ready to release into the big wide world.
Well, the cage has been opened and the big wide world is waiting as we reach the fourth and final instalment of the ‘Rodology on Making’ series – the art (and science) of selling.
The thing is, there is so much to cover in this final instalment that we’ve had to break it down into several more, well, instalments. So, this week we will be focussing on…
Before I get all bullet pointy with the best ways to sell something I should probably say a little something about pricing. After all – you don’t want to just give your stuff away.
The question is – what do you charge for something that you‘ve put your heart and soul into? Do you aim high so you sell fewer items, but make more of a profit? Or aim low so you shift more?
Design Trust Director Patricia Van Den Akker has it spot on in saying, ‘charge too much and you won’t make any sales; charge too little and you won’t survive for long’. There’ll always be someone out there willing to pay whatever price you attach to something, but it’s best to figure out early on the prices that allow you to actually sell a decent number of your products.
Costs and formulas aside, a great exercise is to see if there’s anything similar out there from which to gauge where other makers are financially pitching their products. Whilst obviously not foolproof, it’s a good benchmark to start the question-asking process – how are they able to sell it so cheaply? Or – that seems a bit steep, I wouldn’t pay that, etc.
In these instances it’s quite useful to listen to your gut. After all, you’ve been a customer and consumer for years so you already have a pretty good idea of whether something is too cheap or too expensive.
Next up, start working out what it costs to make your piece. I don’t just mean the raw materials and cost of nice packaging. Really, really think about it and count absolutely everything.
What were your overheads?
Did you pay someone else to manufacture anything?
Did you have to go and pick something up?
If so did you use the car or public transport? How much did that cost?
Make any phone calls or use the internet to order your parts? Bet your internet bill isn’t as cheap as it could be.
What about electricity?
Hiring a studio space at all?
Used ink from your printer to print anything out?
The above is not intended to scare you. Hopefully it’ll get you thinking about the fact that each and every item you make already costs you more than the raw materials alone. If you don’t factor these in then you’ll have to sell a lot more than you originally anticipated to get near to breaking even.
Next up is to factor in your time.
As the value of one’s time is very subjective this is often an overlooked area when makers are trying to calculate their retail price. It’s easier to just say ‘oh I do it because I love it’. Sure you do. But when it’s 3am and you’re making your 2000th item that week because you had a massive order, you’ll soon wish you charged a little more for your time.
Done all of that? Grab a calculator so you can work out broadly speaking how much you should be selling each item for:
RAW MATERIALS + OVERHEADS + TIME = UNIT COST
UNIT COST X 2 = WHOLESALE PRICE.
WHOLESALE PRICE X 2.5 = RETAIL PRICE.
How’d you get on? Still thinking about selling that piece for a tenner?
Don’t worry – getting a figure much higher than expected always happens the first time – pricing is about realising what something is worth to you as the maker.
As I mentioned in part three, there are some decent ways to add value to your product without adding too much to your unit cost, and getting a production line going (like the one talked about in part two) will only help bring that unit cost down even further.
Now we’ve talked pricing, we can get onto the hard-sell stuff as I break it down into the three best ways of getting people to buy your products: online, at markets, and via stockists.
Join me next time for 4.2 – selling online and at markets.
And while I have you, a little note about an opportunity I’ve mentioned before – the Royal Academy open call, RAted. They are once again inviting British designer-makers to submit their original products for a chance to be sold in the RA shop from February next year.
Personally, their open call last year was a brilliant and successful experience for me, so I highly recommend applying. The deadline is October 1st so get your skates on.
Latest posts by Rod Barker-Benfield (see all)
- Rodology on Making, Part 4.1: Pricing Your Products for Sale - September 18, 2015
- Rodology on Making, Part 3: Finishing - August 11, 2015
- Rodology on Making, Part 2: Production - July 10, 2015