8 Rules to Improve your Artist/Collector Relationships

By Aletta de Wal in Art Business Advice > A-Z Art Marketing Guide

Welcome back to “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z.

In today’s article, I’ll be focusing on the letter “R” for Relationships

My recent exploration of the Riverdale Art Walk with Gary Smith was more of a crawl than a walk. We couldn’t take more than a step or two before someone stopped to talk with Gary or he called out a greeting to a passerby or an artist in a booth.

Aside from being a talented artist and popular art teacher, Gary is a master of the 8 cardinal rules of relationships:

1. Relationships are the bedrock of sales

Sales happen through relationships. Relationships build through conversations. Art purchases occur at that “sweet spot” in these conversations where your art inspirations meet their art purchase aspirations.

Galleries, museums and art consultants know that relationships are worth their weight in gold. If you’ve ever asked them to share their mailing list with you, the answer was probably “No.” Why? Because they spend years of time, money and energy to create relationships with potential customers and sources of referral.

2. Relationships are your second most important asset

After your art inventory, your relationships are your next most important asset.

All relationships are important. Taking equal care of all of them takes less effort than trying to guess which ones will count in the long run. (And unless you have a crystal ball, you can’t predict, you can only guess.)

3. Relationships begin with “first contact”

Everyone you know outside of your family was once a stranger. The only way strangers become acquaintances is through contacts over time, and one of you has to make the first move. That may as well be you.

Simply treat everyone you meet with respect and be curious about them. You may not go beyond this first step, or you may just have met your best collector. Unless you start here, you’ll never know.

4. Relationships grow out of conversations

The art of conversation is every bit as important as your art-making skills.

Conversations are the heart of art marketing. Conversations lead to connections and connections are the first stage of relationships. Only over time (and through conversations) will you build trust. People buy art from people they like and trust.

5. Relationships need continuous care and feeding

Most relationships need periodic connection to stay vibrant and meaningful.

Think about the important relationships in your life. Now think about how those relationships developed and either grew, stagnated or disappeared.

Tend to your relationships and they will be more attentive to you.

6. Relationships need more than a keyboard

You may make first contact with potential relationships on the Internet but broadcasting through e-mail or social media is one-way communication. If you do not hear from the other person, you’ve dropped the ball.

Research has shown that people who browse and buy art in physical locations AND the Internet make more art purchases. So get interactive and add “real world’ contact through the telephone and in person.

Always carry business cards, postcards or photographs of your work and offer to exchange more information as soon as you encounter genuine interest. You will amaze and astound most people simply by making it easy for them to connect.

7. Relationships require two-way communication

We are all overloaded with one-way communications. It’s always easier to broadcast information than to have a back-and-forth conversation. (In order to not fall into that pit myself, I invite you to send me an e-mail to aletta@artistcareertraining.com with your successes or challenges about relationships. I’ll answer you personally.)

We have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk. When you do speak, address the listener’s needs, not your own.

8. Relationships happen one person at a time

Whenever you are in a group of people, remember that you build relationships one person at a time.

At gallery receptions or open studios, make sure to spend a few minutes with everyone. Make sure each person feels as though they are the only person in the room while you are communicating.

• It’s always been about “who you know”
• It’s also about “what you know about who you know”
• But it’s increasingly about “who they know and what they know about you”

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:

A – Appreciating your Audience

B – Building your Business Base

C – Communicating Clearly, Consistently and Cleverly

D – Diversifying Your Delivery

E – Educate, Entertain, Engage, Enrich, and Evolve

F – Fostering Friendly Familiarity

G – Give to Gain

H – Hiring Help

I – The 5 “I’s” of Art Marketing

J – Joining Juried Shows

K – Creating Good Karma

L – Listening and Learning

M – Mastering your Marketing Messages

N – Negotiating 101

O – Turning Obstacles into Opportunities

P – Procrastination & Perfection

Q – Quality & Quantity: Creating Art that Sells

R – 8 Rules to Improve Your Artist/Collector Relationships (current article)

S – S is for Sales

T – 30 Ways to Say “Thank You”

U – Switching from “I” to “Us”

V – Volunteering in the Art World

W – Write, Write, Write!

Y – Just Say Yes

Z – Zen, Zoom, ZigZag & Zowie


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