This Post is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for
FineArtViews. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
I have been reminded recently of the fact that “your mailing list is your number one asset”, to quote Alyson Stanfield. This is something that I took for granted when gallery sales were stronger a few years ago. I wish that I had done more with my mailing list at the time. Better late than never, though. This has been a huge priority this past year. Now, about 70% of my sales are the result of my own marketing efforts, whereas a few years ago that number reflected my gallery sales.
Use your Mailing List
Put it to work for you. Be creative in how you use it. There are many ways to market to your collectors and prospects, and I find that a variety of methods work best. There has been a lot of discussion lately about email, blogs, newsletters, twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. All of these are great. But don’t neglect the traditional. Send cards or letters once in a while. Send ‘Thank You’ cards. Send announcements or invitations, even brochures, etc. Mailing a copy of an article about you (or by you) is another great reason to correspond with your clients.
There is great power in using these more tactile marketing tools. They are more likely to be seen. It will set you apart from the crowd. You are reminding your collectors that you are still there and still creating art. They will see your work (if you use your art on these marketing items) in a format that they can hold on to for a while. They may even frame it. Even if it eventually makes it into the trash, they will see it and handle it and think about it more than an image attached to an email or blog. Or at least it will make a different impression, it will be noticed and you will be remembered. Also, there is something about the personal touch of a hand-written note that speaks volumes to how you appreciate them as collectors.
Again, I repeat: use a variety of marketing methods and be creative in those methods. Use both on-line and traditional strategies.
Recently I began a project that is of great excitement and interest to me. I won’t bore you with the specifics, but will share how I marketed it. A month or so before beginning the project, I decided to announce it to selected people on my mailing list. I invited them to join me in this exciting endeavor. The invitation was for them to become a sponsor by paying a modest amount which would be completely applied to the purchase price of a future painting. The sponsors were guaranteed a first purchase right of any paintings from the project and they would have the opportunity to see them before the general public. They were also guaranteed that I would return their sponsorship money if they did not find a painting from the project that they wanted to purchase. I intentionally kept the number of sponsors to a minimum.
The idea behind the sponsorship was not to have money to cover any up front expenses. Rather it was a way for me to know who was seriously interested in the paintings. With a handful of clients already interested before I even began, my efforts in marketing the paintings afterwards are minimized (but not eliminated). It is great to know that I have the freedom to paint what I am inspired to paint, knowing that many are likely to be sold right away. The audience is in the grandstand watching play by play as the project unfolds. They are a part of it.
This is briefly how I am doing it:
I sent a packet in the mail (yes, snail mail) which included a letter explaining the project and an invitation. I also included some anticipated FAQs. Additionally there was a brief bio sheet which showed recent paintings. Finally, there was a form to fill out and return with their check if they wished to be a sponsor.
I did not follow up with telephone calls, but likely could have gotten more sponsors had I done that. I was, however, comfortable with the number of responses I got. I didn’t want too many, because I was unsure how many paintings would ultimately be created in this project.
As paintings are completed, I send an email of the images AND a hard copy (again, snail mail) to the sponsors. I send three at a time about once every 6 to 8 weeks or so. The clients are anticipating these updates and eagerly review them when they come (remember, they signed up and even put money down so they want to be updated). I then follow up about a week after they receive the images with a telephone call (unless they contact me first). The clients are given first purchase rights on the paintings before I open them up to other clients or the general public.
Interestingly, one of the sponsors saw one of my recent paintings which was NOT part of the project, but loved it. They asked if they could apply the sponsorship to that painting. Of course I obliged. After all, the sponsorship was to pique the interest of clients, some of whom I hadn’t communicated with in several years (shame on me). Through this, they found a painting that they liked and wanted to purchase. Without their responding to the sponsorship request, they likely wouldn’t have seen this other painting which they bought.
This is just a brief example of some things that can (and should) be done to market your work. I have other pieces and projects which are marketed differently. I have my overall business which is marketed. I am marketing myself as an artist. There are many different ways in which all this is done. I don’t rely on just one thing, and you shouldn’t either. Consistency in the larger message and consistency in your efforts are crucial. Yet, variety in your methods of communication are equally important.