Sep 21, 2015
I thought I would share a blog post with you guys for this
week’s podcast because I think it hits on some really important
tips as far as marketing for your artist blacksmith business.
I have been reading this blog for, I don’t know, 5 years now, maybe
longer, it’s called the Red Dot Blog, by Jason Horejs. It’s
been extremely helpful to me. Jason is the owner of Xanadu
gallery in Scottsdale Arizona and has been in the art business
since he was 12, building custom frames for his nationally
recognized father who was an oil painter, John Horejs.
Anyway, you can go to www.reddotblog.com to check out
all the blog posts and sign up to his mailing list.
The article is titled “Keeping in touch with your Art
Collectors” and was just posted on August 19th 2015. OK, I’m
going to read the article now –
Keeping in Touch With your Art Collectors
by Jason Horejs August
19, 2015 Posted in Art
Marketing For Artists
Marketing art can be a huge challenge. How do you get your art
in front of people who will not only love it, but want to buy it as
well? Should you invest in magazine ads? Participate in art
festivals? Show your work in a local gallery? All valid tactics you
should be pursuing, but you may be overlooking your best marketing
opportunity: Selling to collectors who have purchased your work in
This seems like an obvious suggestion – after all, past buyers
clearly like your work and have explicitly told you they are
qualified to purchase(nothing says “I can buy” like pulling out the
credit card and buying). Yet I find that many artists and galleries
are not putting their full efforts into marketing to past
purchasers. If you aren’t actively pursuing sales with past
collectors you are neglecting your best pool of potential
In a typical year 25-50% of my sales are made to existing
customers. Existing collectors tend to buy larger and more
expensive works, and the more they trust me and the better the
relationship, the more frequently they will buy.
Perhaps you haven’t been as good at following up as you would
like simply because you haven’t had a follow-up plan in place. I
want to share with you some suggestions that will help make you a
follow-up expert. Better follow-up will lead to more sales.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: your biggest risk
with collectors is not that they will stop liking your work, it’s
that they will stop thinking about you. Don’t let this happen!
In this post I will give you a broad picture of what client
communications should look like – I’ll focus on more specifics in
The Big Picture | Long Term Strategies for Keeping in Touch
Before I dive into specific tactics, let’s take a moment to
discuss my thoughts and motivations underlying my follow-up plan.
By understanding what the long-term strategy is, you will better
understand my suggestions and why each is important.
Build your Mailing List
Job #1 is building a mailing list and keeping it organized. You
are going to have a hard time following up with your customers if
you don’t have a good mailing list. Make sure you are keeping all
of your addresses organized and up to date in a format that makes
it easy for you to access the information.
Our ArtSala service
will allow you to keep track of collectors, but a spreadsheet or
even ledger book, will as well. Do what makes sense for you and
allows you to easily keep track of your customers and potential
Marketing is a numbers game, so the larger your pool of
potential buyers the more sales you are going to make. Building an
effective mailing list takes time, so if you haven’t already, get
your mailing list started today.
Your goal in your continuing contact with collectors is
Continue building on the relationship you began when you first
met or when they first bought
Keep them thinking about you and your art
Position yourself so that when they are ready to buy, you are
the one they think about
Frequency of Contact
Whenever I talk about keeping in touch with collectors, the
number one concern I hear expressed by artists and gallery sales
staff alike is “I don’t want to annoy my customers.” A valid
concern, to be sure, but while there certainly is a point where you
would be crossing the line and being too persistent, most of the
time you are erring on the opposite side and not contacting your
collectors nearly enough.
As a general rule, I like to contact my collectors every 4-6
weeks. By varying the type of contact and keeping the contact
relevant there is little risk of offending. Remember, your contact
isn’t made in a vacuum – these are not strangers you are contacting
cold – these are people with whom you have already begun to
establish a relationship and who have bought your work – they want
to hear from you.
I will also say that immediately after a purchase I will be in
contact more frequently with the buyer. I’ve found that once a
buyer has had a positive experience you have a window of
opportunity to sell more art while the iron is hot.
Just after we opened our gallery in 2001 we had a couple wander
in during a show and buy a small piece by the featured artist. The
couple lived in the area and so I offered to install the piece for
them. When I arrived at their newly-built home I saw that there
were many empty spaces in need of art. I suggested bringing out
more of the artist’s work and began a campaign of sending the
clients images of additional pieces I thought might fit in their
décor. In the ensuing three months we placed nearly a dozen
additional pieces including two major works. It would have been
easy to simply sell the clients that first small piece and let it
go at that, but we would have missed out on a great opportunity to
turn these buyers into major collectors.
While frequency is important, even more important is
consistency. Sending out a newsletter one time might feel good, but
if you don’t continue to follow up, that single contact will likely
be wasted. It will sometimes take dozens of contacts to generate
additional interest or a sale – don’t give up after the first few
Start by devoting four hours a week to follow-up and you should
be able to sustain consistent contact with your mailing list. That
time will expand as your mailing list grows, but the time will be
What to Say
While you might instinctively understand the importance of
keeping in touch, you might also be saying “what am I possibly
going to say to my collectors every four to six weeks?” Glad you
Your communications don’t have to be complicated or even all
that fancy. By varying the type and content of your communication
you can avoid becoming stale or repetitious (though a little
repetition is certainly not a bad thing).
Let me share some general guidelines about communicating with
your buyers and what you will say.
Make it Personal
Newsletters and postcard are great and should definitely be a
part of your mix, but your most effective communication will be
personal. Letters, hand written notes and personalized emails will
be your most effective tools. A newsletter will be opened by some
percentage of your buyers, especially if it is well crafted, but a
personalized note will be sure to grab attention and will be
Use your client’s name in your communications and reference
previous conversation you have had. Ask a question or two to
Provide Relevant Information and Images
If you have a client who has told you they are especially
interested in one particular subject, try and tailor your
communications so that you are primarily sending them images and
information regarding that subject. While you can certainly include
the client in your general mailing list for newsletters, etc, your
personal communications should be built around the collector’s
Tell a Story
A photo may be worth a 1000 words, but telling a good story
about your art will sell it. A landscape painting may be
interesting in and of itself, but telling the story about how you
created the piece and what most excited you about the landscape
will build interest in the work and cause your collectors to look
at the work more closely. Creating the work may seem mundane to
you, but your collectors are fascinated by what you do and how you
do it. Give them details.
Talk about the inspiration for the art, what it was that drew
you to the subject, and what the challenges were in creating the
piece. If you created the piece on location, talk about the trip to
get to the spot.
Show the Story
Provide not only photos of the artwork, but get photos (or
video) of yourself creating the piece. These images will draw the
collector into the story and help them feel they truly understand
what it took to create the piece.
Provide Valuable Information
Some of your communications might have nothing to do with your
art. Send your collectors copies of interesting magazine article or
how-to information related to displaying or collecting art. Become
a trusted advisor and indispensable guide to your collector and
they will thank you with future sales.
Tools for Keeping in Touch
Be creative and varied in your communications. As I mentioned
earlier, you don’t have to (or even want to) get stuck in a rut of
doing the same thing over and over. Below are a list of
communication methods you can use to keep yourself in front of
buyers. In future posts I will delve into each of these and talk
about the mechanics of putting them together and content.
Facebook/Twitter/Other Social Media
When to Quit
When should you give up on a buyer and stop communicating with
them? In a word, NEVER. Realize that it may be years before you
hear from a buyer again or before they are ready to buy.
Only when a client tells you they are not longer interested and
would like you to stop sending them messages will you quit.
Become Strategic in your Communications
Don’t leave your communications with buyers to chance, plan
ahead. Rather than waiting for a reason to communicate to strike
(it never will) plan out your communications ahead of time. Sit
down once a quarter and plan out what your communication strategy
will be for the coming months. The more specific you are in your
plans, the better. Make it so that you can spend your marketing
time sending the communications out instead of trying to figure out
what they should be.
What you Should do Today
I encourage you to take action today to begin better
communications with your collectors. Start by cleaning up your
mailing list (or starting your mailing list if you don’t have one).
Sit down and plan out your communications for the next three
months. Most importantly, commit yourself to constant contact with