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I was a vendor at a local Christmas art market, and was reminded of a very simple truth: it really is all about the marketing.

Because of my hand injury earlier this year I wasn’t able to make a whole lot for the show, but my table looked pretty decent anyway. At least I covered my space and had a few things left in the bag to put out if other things sold.

Christkindlmarkt table Dec 2014

And here is where the marketing angle comes in. Near the top of the photo, you can see 2 small brown rectangles and a black-with-grey-circles rectangle. Those are business card holders. But I started telling people, in addition to being great for business cards, they could also be used as small wallets for tiny purses and wristlets, or for gift card holders. “Oh! Yes! That’s a great idea!” I sold more of those things for gift cards than anything else.

My husband is an author of action/thriller novels. Usually at this event, we sell lots of copies of the first book in his series, which people give as gifts, but it’s hard work trying to get any of the other 3 titles sold except to those who have become fans of his work. So, this year he designed and I made some mouse finger puppets based on the logo of the mercenaries in his series. You could buy a mouse for $10, or, if you bought two of his books, we’d give you a mouse for free. Guess what? We sold more books when people got something extra for free. (We sold the rest of the mice, ending the weekend with only one mouse left.)

Becki and mouse puppet

Then there was the other vendor that shared our room. (The market was set up in a mansion.) She was also an author (unlike my husband, she writes children’s books) and a quilter (unlike me, she does larger projects on her long arm machine). As we were talking on the second day of the market, she confessed to me that she had this awkward set of placemats: there were 7 of them, with three different colors of binding, and every one used slightly different blocks and were even slightly different sizes. The only reason she had them along was to use as protection for her books. We started throwing around ideas about how to market them: as a different way to set a table for 6 with a centerpiece, as toppers for small coffee tables, etc. She finally decided to put them out for sale. Know what? Half an hour later, a woman came in and bought two of them. All she needed to do was find a different pitch.

So next time you are trying to figure out how to sell something you just can’t sell, try reframing the use of the item and see if you can open some eyes to other possibilities!  🙂

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