A guest article by Brittany O’Donnell:
Learning to Market Your Art For A Sale
As your big weekend show gets closer, it’s time to refine your sales techniques. Most artists that I chat with complain that it’s hard to sell art or that no one wants to buy it. I want to tell you that there are people who want to buy art, want to improve their lifestyle, want to feel good about themselves, and enjoy art in their life. You need to find these people. Identify where they usually are; the places they spend their spare time, their hobbies etc. That is what marketing is all about, finding and contacting the right people.
It is important to note that the term marketing is sometimes used incorrectly to describe selling. Marketing is the sum of efforts such as promotion, intelligent research, planning, pricing, studying competition, being seen, etc. Selling on the other hand is the actual act of getting money for your artwork.
So how do we effectively market ourselves to get to the point of selling? One of the biggest secrets is that the most active art market is your own city. Yes, it’s true your buyers are the people in your neighborhoods, communities and social circles.
Now that you know where your potential customers are, you need to reach them. For this, you need a four step process: One: Meet people by participating in shows within your community and interact with the people who view your work. Understand that art sells its self. Knowing information about the process or about you can help a potential buyer become more interested, but initially they have to connect to your work, there is no convincing involved with this.
Second, you need to have an on-line presence. This is important because study’s show that when people consider a purchase, one of the first things they do is to check it out online. You need to make sure your work is always fresh and updated, that you have strong marketing techniques in place to drive eyes to the site and that it is easy to purchase off the site.
Steps one and two go hand-in-hand because when you go to a show and buyers walk by, you need provide them with a card or other such promotional piece to take home so that they can see your work again later. It’s all about being forefront in their minds. I recommend that you have the cards in your hands as you make contact with the browsers using a smile, a hello and other small talk. The key here is to try and avoid questions that the potential client can answer with a simple yes or no. Your goal is to initiate a conversation with them. It has been my personal experience that I will remember artists who take the time to speak to me rather then those sitting quietly in their booths waiting for me to contact them.
The third and most important step is to gain your clients’ trust. Trust is the common thread for everything you do. Statements such as “I have been at this art show for several years” lets me know you are serious and committed to your work and have been for some time. “Your friend Mr. Smith bought painting number three from me last week, it was a part of this series over here”, provides a reference for you to establish both your inventory as well as your integrity and popularity. “You can also find my work on Artistically Connected” links you to reputable companies, people they already trust. “Did you see this article about me and my art in last week’s newspaper?” tells me your work is current and new and likely in demand.
Make sure that you avoid pressure sales. Allow your potential clients time to reflect on their purchase choices and to feel comfortable with their decisions while making sure that you provide them all opportunities to revisit your pieces either personally or on-line.
Last but not least, step four. People like to know that the purchases come with extras or benefits and owning your artwork will come with many of them. These benefits can include the right colour, right size, guarantees, having it nicely framed with high-quality materials or that you the artist have a loyal following and are current and have received critical acclaim. Anything that will help the potential buyer see why purchasing your work is the right choice. These factors will assist you in making your sale. Make a list before you see your potential clients to give you to time to identify some points to mention.
That brings me to my last note; always sell your work wall ready. When a buyer purchases a piece of art they are excited and want to show it off right away. The idea that they will need to go and have it framed or install hanging devices tends to discourage many consumers. If your piece is ready to immediately fill their space it becomes more attractive to buy.
You are selling your self just as much as your art and both of these things need to speak to your potential clients. So start a conversation, get that trust and treat everyone as a potential customer no matter their age, gender or appearance. Let your confidence and passion shine though, it’s both contagious and effective.
Brittany O’Donnell operates Artistically Connected, a Canadian online art marketplace.