Making the pitch - Woodshop News

Making the pitch

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The key to sales is promotion, and the key to good promotion is making your work – and yourself – look almost too good to be true. How do you do it?

I have a new book out this month, and I’m in the process of putting together promotional materials for it. Of course, this is a woodworking project book and there are thousands of those out there, so my goal is to make it sound great in a you-can’t-live-without-it sort of way. And since the projects are all historical reproductions, the key for me is to target woodworkers who have that interest.

This got me to wondering about how you do promotion. When you’ve completed a major piece, or perhaps an entire line of a new design, you simply must promote it to get buyers interested. Trouble is, every other maker out there is doing the same thing, so exactly how do you do that and still make your item stand out? It ain’t easy.

Let’s say you’ve just finished a new chair of your own design. You’re a good designer, and you’re not only pleased with your work but you know you’ve done an outstanding job. Now, how do you relate that to the buyer when they already know what a chair is after seeing thousands of them? “Buy my new chair! You can sit on it, and stuff!” just isn’t going to cut it. But coming up with even the best prose to describe it can’t hide the fact that it’s still, well, a chair.

In this instance, photos are probably the most effective way. Use your description to tell the buyer about the wood, the finish, the joinery, the size and any other physical traits, but the photo will do the bulk of the work. What about the intended audience? If this is for up-scale contemporary interiors, your description should note that. If it fills a specific need (desk chair, dining, outdoor use, etc.) you’ll probably point that out, too. And if there are companion pieces of the same design, that’s an important aspect that can sell the chair almost by itself to customers looking to furnish a whole room.

I’m curious – how do you do it, and what’s the most important aspect for your promotion?

A.J.

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