Welcome back to “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z. Today I’ll be focusing on the letter “E” with five ways you can get a buzz going about your art.
Please note that I’m not the first to use these five concepts. . . years ago, I heard Terry Wisner talked about the importance of “educating, entertaining, and engaging” in regards to social media. Denise Wakeman contributed “enrichment” to the list, and I added “evolution” and expanded the notions to apply to marketing in person, in print and on the Internet.
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These concepts are just as good today as they were then. Let me give you an illustration.
Imagine that you are the host of a talk show. You need interesting content, inspiring guests and outstanding delivery. If you get the right mix together, your audience faithfully tunes into each show and your contract renews. You can even show funny “out-takes” or “bloopers” once you have a loyal following. Of course you have to keep moving the bar up to stay in the winner’s circle.
Oh wait—that’s already your job when you market your art!
You educate, engage, entertain, enrich and evolve each time you promote your artwork, or yourself. Let’s examine each of these five methods for promoting your work:
1. Educate your audience
Treat every question as valid and worth answering. Also, keep track of common questions to develop your own education primer.
As spokesperson for your work, you’ll answer typical questions like “How did you make that?” or “How long did it take you?” And of course, you’ll need to explain your business practices to purchasers, too.
To educate your audience, you’ll need to first educate yourself about:
• The history of your art form, materials and methods, so that you can explain them to viewers and workshop students.
• The art market and artists who make work that might be considered similar to yours, so that you can describe the value of owning your work compared to others.
• Copyright law, pricing practices and resale rights so you can describe your art purchase policy.
2. Engage with your audience
Treat each conversation as the start of a relationship. As the host of your art shows, engage in lively conversations with your guests to keep the energy flowing. Your goal is to become a “friend” they trust, recognize and like to engage with. People buy from confident, competent people they like and trust.
• Get their attention. Make it easy for viewers to remember you and your work with a strong first impression
• Keep their interest. Give people facts they seek, so that they can decide if who you are and what you have to offer is worth more than a glance.
• Ignite desire. Art is an emotional purchase, so make your invitations and follow-up messages appealing to positive feelings about art in general and yours in particular.
• Generate action. Building relationships takes time and repeated engagement as you turn acquaintances into followers; followers into regulars; regulars into fans; fans into buyers, and buyers into collectors.
3. Entertain your audience
Treat viewers as people who want to be around you, not as “prospects” or “targets.” Also, choose to have more fun when marketing your art. If you enjoy it, it’s easier to do more of it, and of course the more you do the more attention you’ll get.
• Share amusing images, stories and videos that let people peek at your less serious side so your audience looks forward to hearing from you.
• Put the spotlight on your audience instead of yourself. Learn from this anecdote of more than a century ago, when a young woman explained why she preferred dining with Benjamin Disraeli over William Gladstone:
“When I dined with Mr. Gladstone, I felt as though he was the smartest man in England. But when I dined with Mr. Disraeli, I felt as though I was the smartest woman in England.”
• Don’t make every event about promoting your art. Invite interesting people over for a party in your studio, give them smocks and finger paint and let them have fun. They’ll have a good time, and also see that making art like yours takes skill and effort.
4. Enrich the lives of your audience
Treat everyone with respect and care because you never know who will buy your work or tell others about you. Discover the aspirations of everyone you meet so you can enrich their lives. In addition, when you help other achieve their goals, it always improves your life in some way.
Painter Eric Armusik explains:
“I enjoy the opportunity to teach the things I’ve worked hard to understand and to give them the chances I didn’t have. I’ve helped many of my young students get into very selective college art programs and find direction in their art career paths. I’ve helped fellow mid-career artists understand their materials more, so they can grow individually and find greater success in their careers. I take pride in their accomplishments—that to me is success and I am humbled to be a credible resource sought out by many, to help facilitate their future.”
We are all part of a bigger reality than our art business and when we contribute to communities and causes with our time and energy, we show the public that we are more than our art. We become “us.”
5. Evolve your marketing as you go
Treat each marketing action as an opportunity to improve on what you’ve done before, just as you develop your art form.
Abbess Zenkei Blanche Hartman said it like this:
“Beginner’s mind is the mind that is innocent of preconceptions and expectations, judgments and prejudices. Beginner’s mind is just present to explore and observe and see ‘things as-it-is, that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement. ‘I wonder what this is? I wonder what that is? I wonder what this means?'”
When you keep an open mind, anything can happen! Outdated ideas are discarded, and new ideas come to the surface which will help you attract the RIGHT kind of people who are interested in your art.
Each time you execute a marketing task, consider how you can elaborate and expand what you’ve done. . . always seek new ways emerge to educate, engage, entertain and enrich your audience!
Follow the links below to read more articles in “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z: