Analysis Paralysis Could Be Screwing Up Your Convention Sales
Analysis paralysis is a funny thing and not just because it rhymes. What it boils down to is over-thinking a situation causes people to seize up and become unable to take action. Essentially, when someone is faced with too many options it becomes too difficult to choose what they want. So, how does this affect artists at conventions? Well, if you want to sell more, sometimes it’s best to offer less.
Let me explain what I mean by using an example based on the experiment conducted by Sheena Iyengar (a professor of business at Columbia University). Let’s say you go to the grocery store and you go to the jam aisle to buy some tasty preserves. You get there and there’s only one kind of jam. That sucks because there is no option for you. Now, let’s say there are five kinds of jam there. That’s great! You have options and you can pick the one you like best. Next time you stop in to buy some you find that there are five kinds of jam from five different companies with more options for organic, non-GMO, low sugar, and whatever else they can do to jam. This is when analysis paralysis strikes. When faced with so many options, people freeze up. They’re suddenly filled with doubt that they might pick the wrong jam or can’t narrow it down far enough. That’s why you see some people standing in aisles just starring.
I know that analysis paralysis seems contradictory. How could giving people options really be that bad? It’s not. However, having too many options could impact your sales. From personal experience, I can say that stopping by an artist’s booth at a con and seeing dozens and dozens of prints for sale is more likely to have me move along without buying anything. It’s not because I don’t like the artist’s work, it’s that when faced with so many options the satisfaction from making a decision starts to diminish. In other words, buyer’s remorse sets in.
So, how can you avoid all this? The easiest answer is to limit how many art pieces you offer. Before you say that’s crazy, let me offer some suggestions for you to avoid analysis paralysis. For starters, take a look at the con you’re going to be attending. Not just a casual glimpse. Look to see who the guests are, what the panels will be on, ask what kind of audience typically attends this convention. By looking at this information it will give you a good idea of the kind of art that might be popular and will help you get rid of stuff that might not be worth lugging in there. Another option is to swap out the pieces that are prominently displayed each day at your booth. Lot’s of people go to cons for multiple days. So, if you give them limited options one day, and different (but limited) options on another day, it could lead to repeat business. It might even lead to people stopping to ask about the pieces they saw the other day, and you can pull it out of your bag. The added benefit is that you can put up art that might be more relevant to that day. If a celebrity is only there for one day or there’s a big panel happening, you can put out pieces related to that. At the end of the con, you still had a chance to show off your best stuff, but were able to make buying it an easy choice for the geeks that stopped by your table.
Still not convinced that limiting your offerings will help you avoid analysis paralysis and hurt your sales? Well, how about this for a healthy compromise: You have a book showing the rest of the prints you sell and offer to send people a discount code if they sign up for your mailing list. This will allow you to do two things 1) you can build your mailing list with people who are actually interested in your art 2) it will allow you to follow up with people once they have recovered from decision fatigue (it’s a real thing).
Human’s might be complicated creatures, but we don’t like when things start to get too complicated for us. Businesses are aware that analysis paralysis affects their sales, and have actively work to avoid it. As an artist, you need to start acting like you’re a business in order to get anywhere. That means planning ahead and paying attention to business concepts like this. Your work will always speak for itself, but helping to give it a megaphone every once in awhile is going to really help. They say the devil is in the details, and this is one of those details that can make a huge difference for you.
So, here’s a quick recap on how you can avoid analysis paralysis at your next convention:
1. Limit the number of prints you offer (I would suggest 12 or less on prominent display).
2. Focus on prints related to panels, guests, and current pop culture.
3. If you don’t feel comfortable limiting what you take, switch out the prints each day.
4. Include a sample of other prints you sell online and let people sign up for an e-mail list. Two weeks later, follow up with an e-mail and a special offer for a first time purchase.
There you have it. Just a few ideas to help your sales at the next convention you attend. This is just from the buyer’s side of the table though. If you’re an artist who has experience making sales at conventions, I’d love to hear what tips you have to offer.