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Personal, Timely, and Relevant

by Clint Watson on 2/13/2009 10:32:13 AM

Today's Post is by Clint Watsonfounder of FineArtViews. Follow Clint on Twitter.

You need to reach people WHERE they want your message, WHEN they want your message and the message has to be RELEVANT and PERSONAL to their needs.

This post was inspired by a video of Seth Godin where he mentioned that marketing messages only get through to people when those messages are personal, timely and relevant.

In thinking about this applies to art, it provides a context as to WHY . . . .

1.  Art galleries sell better than restaurants (more relevant)
2.  Art openings sell better than "regular" days in the gallery (more timely)
3.  Open studio events sell better than just "walk ins"  (more timely)
4.  Art sells better when the artist is in the conversation  (more personal)

We talked previously about having conversations and stories surrounding your artwork.  I wrote that you needed to develop remarkable artworks that become "purple cows", and that through having smart conversations with your clan, those artworks would become "blue monsters", or social objects, that your clan talks about.  I wrote about changing the world.  I had an entire post about leading your collector clan, and talked specifically about email newsletter marketing.

But how do you START or GROW or NUTURE a clan?

By being personal, timely and relevant.

You must "be there" at the right time, and in the right place to personally connect with someone, to start a "conversation" (online or offline) with that person, and your goal, at that point, IS NOT to sell them your artwork directly (although it's great if you do).  Your goal, at that point of first contact, is to get permission to continue the conversation.  In the real world, this normally manifests itself as permission to add that person to your email list, to add them your show mailing list, or perhaps even simply to schedule a follow up phone call.

Here's an example.  Let's say you paint landscapes of the New England area.  A local restaurant owner approaches you and wants to display some of your art.  So you hang it...and nothing (or very little) happens.  Why?  Because people go to restaurants to eat, not look at art.  Context matters.

Your message (the artwork) is not relevant at that time, it's not timely either.  So instead, you decide to show your art in a local art fair over the summer.  Assume there are a lot of tourists in the area in the summer (escaping to New England to get out of the brutal heat we have here in Texas).  A couple walks into the art fair looking for mementos of their holiday in New England.  They see your artwork and they are now engaged.  Now, at this point your art is RELEVANT, it's TIMELY and it's PERSONAL to them.  Your goal is to get PERMISSION to continue the conversation with this couple.  You want them on your email list.  You want them to join your clan.  You want their permission to keep talking to them in the future and showing them your remarkable artworks.  If you get that permission you've increased the size of your clan.  If you sell your painting, that's fantastic, be sure to get permission to stay in touch with them.  If they buy your painting, they'll be even more committed to your clan.  (Of course, make all reasonable efforts to sell the artwork while they're present, in your booth, but whether they purchase it or not, please get permission to continue the conversation).

Email Marketing

Above I said that your primary goal is obtaining permission to continue a conversation with your prospect.  And getting permission to send a prospect email messages is a powerful tool.  Like Alyson Stanfield says, "Your contact list is your #1 asset - if you use it."

Email newsletters are so powerful because, if you send them to people who have given you permission (ie you are not spamming), then they are almost always personal and relevant.   They're not always timely.  After all, you can't know when your prospect is thinking about buying art, or when they have some "time to kill" and are in the mood to stop and read your newsletter, or when they want to surf your website and look at your art.  You simply can't know if your email newsletter is going into their trash folder or if it's going to be read. 

That's why, and this is an important point, you've got to send your email newsletter often.  You need to use it consistently.   When your prospect is in that mood to read your newsletter.....then you need to be there, waiting in their inbox.  And the only way to ensure that you are there is to send your email blasts often - twice a month, or every week, twice a week, or even every day.

I previously discussed Brian Kliewer's 100 Paintings In 100 Days for $100 each.   Brian's success (selling 59 of 89 paintings so far, garnering at least 3 commissions, and growing his email list) is due to the fact that he has been in his Collector Clan's inboxes every weekday during his project.  When people are ready . . . he's there.  Some days, when I receive Brian's email, I'm not in the mood, so I click "delete."  No biggie, deleting the message doesn't mean I am rejecting Brian or his artwork, I'm just not in the mood that day.  Other days, I have been in the mood and have clicked through to look at his artwork.  A couple of times, I wanted to purchase a piece....only to discover that it had already been sold.  So, yes, the fact that Brian is emailing his list every day is driving sales of his paintings.  Because his messages are personal, relevant.......and on the days that I'm in the mood, they're timely.

Remember, your contact list is your number one asset.....if you use it.

Here's the really sad part that I just realized as I wrote the last paragraph, I never receive any marketing emails from the artists' whose works I already own.  None of them even asked me if I wanted to be on an email list when I bought the artworks.  Sure I could have gone to their websites and/or requested it. . . but I didn't think about it.  That just goes to show you:  do not be bashful - ask people if you can add their name to your email list.

But what if you don't have a big email list yet?  (Brian didn't)  Or, even if you do, what if you just want to make this strategy exponentially more powerful?

Then, ask yourself the following question . . . .

Who else reaches the same prospects I do?

 One of the most powerful ways to be personal, timely and relevant is through strategic cross-marketing.  Ask yourself, "Who else reaches the same prospects I do?"  Make a list.  Now go partner with those people.

Of course, saying "go partner" is easier said than done.  But the effort is worth it, because this form of marketing is so powerful

I've always been a proponent of "partnership" marketing, however, a recent article by Kim Cady on Empty Easel, Art Marketing Through Partnerships reminded me how well it works.  Kim, who paints animals, has successfully partnered with animal shelters, mom-and-pop pet stores, and local animal groomers.  I suspect veterinary clinics would be a good fit too.  Her partners receive anywhere from 20%-50% of the proceeds she makes because of those partnerships.  And that's an important point.  You need to have a mentality of what you can give to the partnership first.  Give first and you'll "get" later.  It's a lot easier to approach someone when you have something of value to give them.

Even the traditional gallery system is an example of "partnering."  Galleries reach people who love art, and artists reach people who love art.

But who else could you partner with?  Get creative.  This may sound radical, but what about partnering with another artist whose work appeals to the same type of buyers as your artwork?

I look forward to the day that I'll receive an email from an artist whose work I own telling me about a great new artist she's discovered whose work I will love.  THAT email would get opened and you can bet dollars-to-donuts that I would be checking out the recommended artist's portfolio.

You're probably already thinking how you wouldn't want to sell another artist's works to your customers . . . . remember GIVE to get.  The other artist will be offering your artworks to their customers too. 

Partnering with others is a way to reach a much larger population of prospects....way more than you can reach on your own, all while keeping the messages personal and relevant.

Have conversations.  Start an email list.  Explore partnerships.


Clint Watson
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic

PS - You need a way to capture email addresses on your website.  You need an easy way for you to add people to your list.  And you need an easy way to send your messages properly to ensure delivery, avoid spam filters, remove bounces, track open rates etc.  We offer all of that over at our sister site FineArtStudioOnline.  Our gold plan members enjoy an email newsletter module built right in with their website, blog and redundant image hosting.  You don't have to pay a bunch of extra money to a separate email newsletter service.  Come and give us a try . . . it's the same system Brian Kliewer utilized.  It works for him and it can work for you.


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Related Posts:

Focus the Lens - Email Everyone You Know

Blog vs. Email Newsletter

Who Can You Send Email Newsletters?

Art Marketing is Conversations

Artists: Lead Your Collector Clan

Do You Want Traffic or Do You Want to Sell Art?

Art Marketing for Artists Who Want to Change the World

Topics: Art Business | art marketing | Email Marketing | Sales | Web Site Tips 

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Barbara J Carter
via web
Fantastic article Clint! Thank you so much for translating Seth Godin's concepts into specifics for artists. Great stuff.

I'm still working on the idea of partnering. Other than partnering with artists whose work appeals to a similar clientele (which I've done), I'm having trouble thinking of possible partners to work with. But it sure sounds like a good idea!

mark bridges
via web
You know I have also bought 10 paintings, one from each of my two teachers, and only one artist sends me email art updates.

Emma Brooks
via web
Fantastic post Clint - my head is buzzing with ideas.

"Who else reaches the same prospects I do?"

This is what really clever marketeers do - partner to gain access to anothers email list / contact list...but you've got to have something to / win.

Great blog post. Keep inspiring.

richard hamilton
via web
Clint - what an incredible site. Excellent quality information to the artist at any level. The real question I have is would you be interested in purchasing a small Granville Redmond? I have a poppies and lupines that I would like to sell privately to a good home.

Thanks - Richard

Diane Olsen
via web

I am becoming more aware all the time of the need to use the internet's many avenues for making contact, and promoting and selling my art work. My website is through Fine Art Studio Online and I am so pleased with all it offers me. Thanks for the great help and service you offer. Just reading this blog creates a new and fresh impression of what is important in this business. And by the way, your newsletter today about Pilate was super.

Good to meet you, you have a lot of good knowledge , anyone that wants to think of themselves as an Artist pretty much needs to know you,, or at the least, know what you know.
I will be eyeballing this sight, perhaps I can enhance my Art Sales.

Rod Hubble
Your ideas about contacts through email is very good and I am eager to see it work for me. My art website is up and running now, so as time permits with a very busy schedule painting, teaching art part time and life in general, I am excited to be augmenting my 36 year career as an artist. You offer many great tools for artists.
Thanks so much!

So, you think we should grow an email list, but how do you go about building one without offending people who hate that kind of mail?

max hulse
Clint The article you wrote in Feb of 2009
is still relevant. I have reread it several
times and get something new each time. It is
one thing to be a good artist, and quite another
to be a good marketer.
Your idea to cross reference other artists really
hit me this reading. Just a few weeks ago, I
added another fine artist to my website, and one
of my collectors within a couple of weeks bought
two paintings from the other artist.
Max Hulse

Brandon Crawford
Hi Clint the artistic abilities Is very important,when you contact people who would like to keep up with my Email, This information you are providing for Aspiring Artist, I would like to keep in contact with other Artist,And promote my Art work at FASO online and try to getting my sales going up and increasing, I want to thank Clint for all the information, It so important to keep up with you, Clint your advise is so beneficial.


Brandon Crawford.

Brandon Crawford
Hello every one I am very excited about my web sight at FASCO, I need to do more marking, I am working on my artistic abilities and I need to meet some of the other Artist one day, and build more client tell which is very important,Thanks Clint that is very important you are sharing with us,Thanks again for your consideration and time.

Brandon Crawford.

Brandon Crawford
Hello every one I am very excited about my web sight at FASCO, I need to do more marking, I am working on my artistic abilities and I need to meet some of the other Artist one day, and build more client tell which is very important,Thanks Clint that is very important you are sharing with us,Thanks again for your consideration and time.

Brandon Crawford.

Manisha Vedpathak
You have such good articles for those artists who are new in art marketing.Making contacts through emails is one thing I have not done yet.I am already excited about the website I have created here at FASO and I have already got one person on my email list,and I am ready to try my hand on getting more email contacts.
Thank you for sharing this article.

Esther J. Williams
Clint, I wrote down the 3 words, be personal, timely and relevant. My mind will swirl these words around as I type up my next newsletter. Being personal is the one most important in a newsletter, telling the reader how I feel when I paint, what I love to do, how I create and why I am driven to do it. Stir the emotions in folks.

Anthony Dallmann-Jones
Esther, that is brilliant. Fine art at its finest originates from emotion. One could say it IS emotion made visible creatively. I saw the Pieta in Rome and could feel the emotions Michaelangelo must have felt as he worked on it towards the end...his self-doubt, his excitement, his satisfaction as he ran his hands over it to make sure it was as smooth as it should be. I stood next to Pollock's Autumn Rhythm at MOMA and was almost knocked to the floor with the raw emotion emanating from it.

By all means tell your patrons about your pieces' emotional is what they can resonate with. And why do people buy art? (unless they are decorators ;-) Resonance.


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