Following up to ~RE's post: I've noticed that the words we use matter more than they should, so I've always preferred to say "handcrafted" to "handmade". I think perhaps that's because "craft" is indicative of skill and creativity. Also, I prefer so say "artisan" or "artist" -- depending on the craft -- to "crafter" or "craftsperson". The public has different perceptions of these terms and I feel that "artisan" and "artist" reflect who BCG members are more accurately.
I've also learned not to be negative at all in regards to my own work. Being modest doesn't help either! It comes across as negative and that makes the buyer doubt how much you put into the craft. I don't believe in being pushy and phony, so honesty works best for me, but I am not obliged to tell a potential customer everything. I made the mistake of telling one fellow that I used acrylic paint for a book. "Just plain old acrylics?!" Um, I don't buy my paint from teacher supply stores. I get the stuff meant for professional artists. Not to mention the hole-puncturing, sewing, sealing, painting, varnishing, gluing, careful-and-thus-time-consuming lining up of paper and fabric ... it wasn't just paint that went into the making of that book. And of course, all that waiting ... waiting for the glue to dry, waiting for the sealant to dry, waiting for the paint to dry, waiting for the varnish to dry, waiting for the compression of the pages ... and even after everything's dry enough, I still have to wait for it all to 'cure' so that it won't become sticky in its packaging. Imo what counts more on a bookcover is the art, not the media used to create it. It's still handpainted/handcrafted, still one-of-a-kind and still takes as much time to paint (or collage ... sticks and stones and leaves and flowers are free, but does that make the art any less artful, any less worthy? No!). So, rather than say "acrylics" right away, I'll say "professional paint". A better term and not a deception.
I also prefer to say "customised" rather than "custom-made". 'Customised' gives me a lot more freedom to create. I ask the customer to tell me what colours s/he prefers to look at as opposed to what s/he likes to wear, since colours for one's skin aren't necessarily what a person prefers as a part of her/his environment.
Regarding thinking like a customer, mine vary too much in culture and age for me to do that. Instead, I bring the books I believe will 'speak to my audience'. I've found that this works better than assuming their reasons are always around whether or not the books will match what they have. Although, of course, that's the norm for some crafts. Deloris (potter) sat beside me at the Apr 15 event. The singer came over and exclaimed that everything she had would go well with her home. I noticed that the colours of Deloris' pottery even matched the bead embroidery of the singer's blouse. I felt that she must be a woman who's sensitive to colour in the same way I am. But, not everyone's like that. I have a friend who doesn't care about or notice such things ... whether or not an item matched something in her home wouldn't be a factor in whether or not she'd buy it.
I agree that telling a story (briefly though!) about art helps the sale. This is an old technique that still works. I've seen it happen recently and it even works on me. :D However, if you're not much of a public speaker or storyteller, and if you can't remember all the circumstances that surrounded your crafting the items, surely there must be another way to express that they're meaningful? Any suggestions?
ITA that image counts. Customers are buying a piece of you. And, they'll want a pleasant, fitting memory of the purchase. Because of my poverty and size, I've never been able to dress very well (as in, to my advantage ... I know that one can look great w/o having to spend a lot) and I'm sure that always affected the perceptions of my items. I believe this because I've observed that happening with others. And of course, it affected one's own aura and confidence. I've also noticed that if how you look doesn't match your goods (not just the quality but also the style), that can be subtly disconcerting for the customer. But alas, knowing this isn't helpful for me because pretty much all my extra $ goes into crafting. haha How can I justify spend $XX on hair when I need material to make things? ??
~RE, the article you posted was great. It was full of classics that the author managed to express in language people relate to. Thank you!