- by Barney Davey
As an artist, you are also an independent business person. Your business success depends on not only your creative ability to render art the public wants to buy, it also depends on how you operate your business.
Here is a simple yet powerful truism, “You can’t get it if you don’t ask for it.”
Just like many artists reading this post, I toil away at a day job. All in all, it’s a pretty good gig. The pay is decent, incentives are excellent with benefits as good as you’ll find these days. Short of blogging for a living, I don’t mind strapping it on and going to work. It is challenging and puts me on a constant learning curve absorbing all manner of things that are both interesting to me now and certain to be helpful to me later.
My only resentment is the time I put into the job because I have many other goals. For example, here is an expanded view of my Personal Brain that I use to help me keep ideas and add new ones. I look at it and it helps me keep on track to stay focused on the most important tasks rather than the most urgent that are not so important. Obviously, I recommend using it. For anyone who learns visually, it is a wonderful free tool.
However, the primary point today is to pass along advice easy to forget and harder to do for many of us. I am a seasoned sales and marketing guy and I found relearning this lesson helped my sales and confidence grow in my day job in ways that surprised me. Actually, there are two valuable lessons for you in this post:
1. OFFER BIG
2. Never sell thinking about what is in your wallet
As an artist, you are also an independent business person. Your business success depends on not only your creative ability to render art the public wants to buy, it also depends on how you operate your business. A constant factor in your business is negotiation. The better you negotiate, the more money you get to keep. Arguably, handling sales is the most important negotiation you routinely make.
Consistently asking for the big sale works!
I’m lucky. Each day I get reminded in numerous ways to make sure I offer the biggest possible package to my customers. You will need to find ways to remind yourself. It is my job to make offers to my customers and choose to make them big offers. It is their job to decide if the offer is valid and worth considering. If they say no, I say okay and move on. I admit it took a some time for me to convert to consistently offer the premium package in every situation. I had to work at getting myself out of the way. Sometimes it just didn’t feel right. But, when I overcame my reluctance to ask and put aside my personal feelings and what I thought was insight, I began to find people often responded favorably to being offered big.
Guess what? My sales went up and have stayed up as a result. I have no qualms about this because my company will give a 100% of unused product refund without question. So a buyer is never stuck with something they don’t need. How does that translate to your business? Easy. You need to think about packages you could offer someone. If you are in a retail situation, such as at a show or in your studio, you already know you have an interested buyer. Instead of getting excited about selling one piece of art, why not offer a suite of images?
Artists Can Make the Art of the Big Offer Work for Them
How about my best package deal? Many of my other collectors love it! Take two 30″ x 40″ and two 16″ x 20″ giclees and I’ll make you a sweet suite deal. Alternatively, would you prefer to have one large and three smaller images in a package?
Help Your Collector Visualize What They Are Getting. Big Offers Get Big Results
Paint a picture for them here. Mentally put the pieces in their home or office “These images in a grouping, complementing each other in a room or several rooms will look spectacular in your home or office. They will give it a fresh inspired sense of beauty. Something you are certain to enjoy for years to come” The point is to allow them to think about how hanging a suite of your images will brighten their home and bring them joy.
If you figure out your offer and practice it until you can make the offer with conviction and confidence, I assure you that you will see a dramatic change in your results if you offer big consistently.
You may be struggling to make the rent, or just working hard to make your second career art business profitable. Either way, it’s no sin to be modest and conservative with your own money. That said, you have to park your own sense of financial well being and not project what is happening in your life onto your collectors. If they are looking for art, they have discretionary income.
Never Pre-judge What You Think Someone Can Afford to Spend
It is not your job to decide how much they of your art they can afford. It is your job as a smart business person to ask for the order and offer big. If you have a problem with doing this because your are shy, uncomfortable or what have you, here is a bit of tough love: Get over it! Your attitude is costing you money. You have to realize you are dealing with rational adults who are fully capable of telling you no thank you they don’t want any, or just the one. However, if you never present the offer, you are guaranteed to never make the big sale. Most people are not that creative in thinking big for themselves. They often want you to tell them what they want and will respond to creative offers, even big ones.
HINT: After you make the offer, SHUT UP. I don’t care how much time passes. Just smile, be relaxed, casual and wait. If you start talking before they respond, you have effectively taken them off the offer. If they change the subject, answer the question and ask if they liked the offer. Get back on track.
So as the immortal Shakespeare adroitly put it, “Screw your courage to the sticking point, and we’ll not fail.” In these times especially, you have to leverage all you have. Practice these simple concepts and watch your sales and confidence grow.