I have known a lot of artists that struggle with the concept of offering sales for their prints. Some have even asked me as they sit on the fence, is it okay to offer print sales? The answer is not a simple yes or no. Some artists may find the concept of offering sales not necessary but if you do choose to offer it, here is some advice to help you get started.
First, understand that sales do work to earn a business more. I know that some artists do struggle with the idea of offering something they worked hard on for less seems just not right. For others, it may cause visions of the slick-talking used car salesman trying to pitch you on a good deal.
But understand, if sales do not work, you would see a lot fewer emails in your inbox from companies ranging from Amazon to your favorite boutique online store. And if you are like most people (myself included) you probably check those emails fairly regularly in case there is something on sale you really want or need. So, Let’s look at the dynamics of an item sold at a sale price and why it can work (or not if you are not careful).
Selling any product at a reduced price, whether it be a pair of shoes or a print of your artwork sounds like it automatically means the seller makes less of a profit. Per item that can be true however the idea behind offering an item for sale is to incentivize and encourage more sales. Think volume or quantity in this case. For instance, if you on average sell 100 prints in a month at $100 each, and each print costs you $30, then you would ultimately earn $7000 for the month. However if you offered a sale at 25% off each print, you might increase your sales of the month from 100 to 150. If you don’t like math, I will do it for you. At 150 total sales, each would be sold at $75 and your profit for the month would be $6750. As you can see under this scenario, you would have earned less for the month. But if your sales were 200 prints for that month, you have actually made $9000. Below is a chart that helps illustrate this:
|Print Cost||Quantity Sold Per Month||Discount||Selling Price||Profit Each||Monthly Profit|
The bottom line from this illustration, is you do take some risks when offering a sale however you must keep the following goals in mind:
- Focus on increasing the number of prints sold.
- Discounts should be high enough to incentivize more prints sold.
This may sound like it is a lot to juggle and it can be. But you have to go into this with the following tools:
It takes discipline for this to work. Part of that means you have to accept that this will be an experiment that could very well cost you more initially than you might feel comfortable with. But throwing your hands and giving up will not result in you being able to take advantage of a very profitable selling technique.
To correctly evaluate this you will need to have a decent number of sales given a period of time that you can work with. Only you can determine what this is. I gave an example above so maybe use that as a good starting point but if your sales are much less, work with what you have to the best you can.
Pre-Purchase in Greater Bulk When Feasible
When you order prints, you will be selling, buy more at a time to save money. As with FinerWorks, buying one at a time on demand can be great at times but you will pay a lot more per print versus if you ordered 5 copies with a built-in volume discount. If this means your cost per print when from $30 each to $20, you would have actually earned $8250 versus $6750 at the 150 prints sold example above.
Mistakes to Avoid
When offering sales there are a few mistakes you want to avoid. This first one should be obvious: do not discount too high that you earn overall less over a time period. Again, this will take some discipline since you may not know initially what is the right rate that incentivizes you while earning you more.
Be careful not to pile your discount on top of another. For instance, if you offer a package deal or volume discounts, make sure you have factored that in. For instance, if you offer a buy one get one free and then add a 25% discount on top of that, you are cutting your profits considerably and will have a lot more ground to make up with the overall volume needed. Most of your customers won’t expect this but you will get the occasional customer that thinks they are entitled to both and act outraged if they do not get both.
Don’t offer the same sale too often. Space them over a few months between each time you offer the same sale. You can have lots of sales but vary them as much as you can. Especially if you do indeed offer lots of sales.
Offering a sale too long or indefinitely will again bring you those customers that feel entitled to everything insisting they should get the same sale price regardless of when they purchase. So be mindful of the length of the sale.