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How to Sell Art to the Affluent Market – Part Two


Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options.

Chris Rock

This post is part two of How to Sell to the Affluent Market. Read part one here.

Selling Original Art to Somebody versus Anybody.

Selling in the luxury market is unique in some ways and identical to mainstream marketing in others. How you get traffic and convert it makes a massive difference in how you approach marketing your art. The more you identify who will buy your artwork, the more you are selling to somebody. The further you move away from trimming your list to only those most likely to buy, the more you move toward mass advertising.

All those decisions affect your product line and pricing. Or vice-versa, you choose your marketing to match your product line and price points. You will do what is best for you. My recommendation is to market to somebody to create long-lasting relationships. It’s how to make repeat buyers and steady referrals an integral part of your business.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use

Search for Them As You Want Them to Search for You.

#1 in the hierarchy below represents your best prospects. They know you and like your brand. When they seek you, it makes a high-quality connection, and so does it when you connect with somebody you strive to meet. Creating ways to put yourself in the bullseye with targets you want to meet is next-level marketing.

Target Rings of Awareness and Intent

  1. People who are searching for you. Bullseye. Branding.  
  2. People who are searching for art like yours. Second Ring. Signature Style.
  3. People who might feel an attraction to your art and you if they were only aware. Third Ring. Tribal Beat Marketing.

There Are Very Few Secrets Especially in the Digital Age.

Everything and everyone has a story. It is in your best interest to be curious. Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to do something on your own in a vacuum. Instead, seek out those who have gone before you and learn from them, or indirectly by studying who they are and what they did to get to where you want to go.

What might have taken artists from previous generations a tremendous amount of time and effort to dig up helpful research on those they wish to learn from and emulate is now at your fingertips, courtesy of the internet and Google. Use the resources to their fullest extent, but don’t stop there.

Reach out and connect with anyone who might give you more pieces to the puzzle. The human factor is huge and is the X factor in propelling your career. By proactively seeking people in the know, you create awareness and potential side benefits but enormous opportunities for yourself in the process.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use

Here Is the Truth About Marketing and Selling Success.

On the primary level, it is a personal business. When all else is equal, or even when it’s not, the buyer often gives the business to the person they like the most. When I sold trade advertising to Fortune 500 companies, I had tons of competitors. Although some represented magazines that were better looking, or they had more subscribers or more impressive reader statistics. I was not only able to compete with them – I bested them year after year.

My magazine was an excellent publication. It was a worthy contender without my sales ability, but my relationships with my buyers were the key to my dominance over my competitors. The more anxious and frustrated my competitors were with marketing to my buyers, the more they dug a deep hole that made getting a more significant share of the annual print advertising budget near impossible.

The Power of Personal Relationships.

Personal relationships trump most other buying decisions when the decision is close. A competitor may have better art or a more compelling story but will still lose to your friendship with your collectors.

There was a marketing and communication association to which all the industry advertisers and trade magazines belonged. It held twice a year events where we all gathered in posh resorts around the U.S. and Canada. Besides the fun of staying in fantastic locations like the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, it was a tremendous opportunity to meet and mingle with decision-makers from big companies.

You can be sure I worked those events relentlessly, but always with an air of casual indifference. I never wanted anyone to feel I was desperate for their business. My goal was to display confidence in my publication’s ability to deliver interested readers who matched my advertisers’ desired demographics. I was friendly and professional with a mission to serve and help them meet their goals using an attitude that I call obsequious nonchalance.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use

Obsequious Nonchalance Is Not an Oxymoron.

You can study your target audience to understand its needs so well it’s almost second nature to you. Being ready with answers, research, and services when needed, or better in advance of your prospect’s anticipation of such needs. If you paint sailboats and have an in with a yacht club, start observing its practices until you anticipate its needs. Here is an example. From the group’s growth, you can see that they will need a larger facility for the annual holiday party. Then seek the solution and be ready with it before it gets to the committee.

I got on committees and helped where I could. I also used every chance I had to meet my prospects for my magazine. I rarely asked about advertising or marketing in these meetings. Instead, I made it a point to get to know the person. How did they come to work at that company? Where did they live? What activities were their kids doing? My wife was always welcoming and helpful if their spouse came, especially to timid first-timers trying to navigate the sometimes-awkward social situations.

Going the extra mile pays dividend after dividend.

Besides getting kudos for my apparent interest in helping the association progress, I was the person who often made introductions to strangers. I don’t know what it is about doing this, but it is sort of like the glue between two people. It lifts your status in a positive, intangible, and remarkable way. I also made sure to invite competing publications to join the organization. It was unique to many members who were surprised that I would undertake such unselfish tasks with aplomb. It took competitors off guard, as well.

Such acts generate goodwill all around. My prospects and competitors could sense this as it worked in my favor. What they couldn’t know was how they felt about me was due to nonchalant service-mindedness. For me, this sums how I felt about being in service to my clients.

I will never be desperate enough to kiss your butt because I don’t have to and don’t need to. However, I will always go beyond your expectations to earn your confidence in me and my ability to help you solve problems.

– Barney Davey

When I called on my buyers and prospects in their office and home base, I made it a point to meet with them outside their work environment whenever possible. Neutral settings made them more relaxed and gave me power points for having arranged the meeting. Our friendship made being warm and comfortable with me easy for them. While my competitors might sometimes find their prospective buyers would decline their offer to take them to lunch or dinner, preferring to take a shorter meeting in the office, this rarely happened to me. I always did everything to ensure I was welcome as a helpful friend first and mag rep secondarily.

Making It Work for You.

You will not have the same situation as me, but you can use what I did as a model of how you might start networking your way to begin knowing influential potential buyers and influence members in the groups you join. The lesson here is the value is in the relationship.

Relationships and Perceptions Sell Art.

This lesson readily applies when buyers consider buying your art. With original art, it is rarely purely about art. Valued collectors are buying you, the artist, as much as they are your art. You and your art are inextricably entwined. The wisdom comes when you realize you have the power to leverage it.

You only have so many hours to devote to marketing. My advice is to target the prospects who have the money to buy it without denting their budget. I am a true believer in social media and online marketing. Still, I believe your career is more robust and successful when you use tech to build on your in-person encounters and relationships with your collectors.

Marketing Art Is Hard and You Don’t Have to Go It Alone.

I’ve always had a soft spot for artists because I know running a solo artrepreneur business is challenging. I am also a realist who understands that the marketing concepts I teach are not easy to implement, including suggestions in this two-part series on selling art to the affluent market.

I launched the Art Marketing Toolkit Project (AMTP) to give artists a way to go deeper with training and join a community to get guidance and encouragement to work on selling art in the luxury market. And explore what marketing concepts and tools they will put to use.

In short, “Get stuff done.”

The AMTP is a monthly membership program with a twist.

My idea for the AMTP is to simplify how I help artists learn to market their art. I found the easiest way to mine the value in my blogs, books, and courses was to publish the best bits into a library of essential art marketing workbooks. Then work with them through the weekly live sessions and the private Facebook group.

The twist is simplified pricing. AMTP has a single price point of only $4.99 per month with no contract because…

I Believe:

  • Accessing practical art marketing training should be affordable to all artists.
  • Living a well-balanced lives helps artists become cultural leaders and ambassadors.
  • Making the AMTP inexpensive is the best way to help most artists globally.
Art Marketing Toolkit Project
Tips to market art your way and inspiration to live your best artist’s life.

Read How to Sell Art to the Affluent – Part One here.

Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use
Download List of 7 Essential Tools Artists Use

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