Visual artists can take control of their career using the 8-steps to art marketing mastery.
Creating success and enjoying its rewards are at the heart of every entrepreneurial business. The process is simple. Make or have a product or service that you repeatedly sell to new and existing customers. It’s the same for visual artists.
Running a successful small business is a challenge.
Now you instinctively know when you break down a simple process it often gets complicated, sometimes even confusing or confounding. For solo entrepreneurs, who have everything on their shoulders, it’s nearly always the case.
The 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery.
The subject of this post is about how using the 8-steps to art marketing mastery will improve your career. That said, it comes with the expectation that you don’t attempt to tackle employing those steps until you have the making the art process under control,which is a two-fold proposition:
- You have developed a recognizable style of art people want to buy.
- You have developed a system to produce enough art to meet the demand created your marketing.
Once you have gained mastery over the creative aspect of your art career, it makes sense to work on gaining mastery over marketing your art. Marketing includes all the myriad details required to get your art seen and sold.
Here are the 8-steps to art marketing mastery, as I see them:
- Set Achievable Goals
- Make them within one’s reach
- Set high range that is not readily achievable
- Realistic Resource Assessment
- Honestly evaluate what you bring to the table
- Understand where weaknesses need shoring up
- Branding – Self-promotion
- Create an online & offline identifiable persona
- Take charge to develop a unified image, message, and perception
- Local Marketing / Networking
- Fully use hometown advantage of built-in contacts and familiarity
- Realize selling locally is easier and less expensive than long distance
- Online Marketing
- Gain an understanding of all available tools
- Determine and use those best for the individual artist
- Traditional Marketing
- Gain an understanding of all available tools
- Determine and use those best for the individual artist
- Project Planning / Synergistic Marketing
- Focus marketing efforts on high-value projects
- Create overlapping marketing agenda using use all tools to frequently reach targeted audience with consistent messaging
- Develop Direct Buying Collectors
- Research to find who your customers are and how to find them
- Use customer hunting techniques to associate with and become known to them them
The Basis for the 100 Collector Theory.
In the past few years, the Internet and changing consumer buying habits have rolled over and drastically altered many industries, including the art business. The changes wrecked the magazine business where I made a living for nearly 30 years. It certainly walloped the art industry and the art gallery business.
Before all these changes, working through galleries was how most artists got their work seen and sold. Yes, there were exceptions, but marketing to collectors was expensive, and collectors were not nearly as open to buying directly from artists as they are now.
There are not enough galleries to go around.
Because they are fewer galleries now, and the remaining ones have less dominance in how art gets sold, I believe it is incumbent upon artists to find ways to sell direct to collectors now. I still believe in working with galleries, just not exclusively to distribute your art.
Fortunately, a couple of things make this more possible. First, the same advancements in tech and the Internet that wrecked my trade magazine business have also made it very affordable and easy for artists to market their work directly to collectors. Secondly, consumers are much more comfortable buying expensive items online than they were in the past. A case in point is that Costco.com is the largest online diamond retailer in the world.
What Is the 100 Collector Theory?
There is a common belief that an average artist will make 1,000 originals in a lifetime. A believable example is making 33 pieces over a 30-year career. Without question, your mileage will vary. However, that example supports the basis of the 100 Collector Theory.
Because artists can sell direct as never before, I think they can work to build a base of 100 or more collectors over the course of their career. I further contend those collectors can account for as much as one-third, or more, of the artist’s original work.
Art buyers are not the same as art collectors.
There are art buyers and art collectors. The distinction to me is art buyers need art for a one-time purchase to fill an immediate need. Collectors, on the other hand, desire relationships with artists and have the notion they will buy more than one piece of work from those whose work appeals to them.
You learn a lot by watching what people do.
I have observed human nature and buying trends for more than 30 years in sales and marketing. From that experience, I know that when a seller has a warm, long-term relationship with a buyer there is a high probability that the purchaser will recommend the seller without being asked, or with an easy prod to make it happen.
I contend if you amass 100 collectors who like you and your work that among them will be those who have friends and contacts who can assist your career in untold ways. These benefactors may know influential people in museums, galleries, cultural organizations that can use your art. They may know developers who can strongly suggest your work be included in public or private buildings being constructed or remodeled, and those are just some obvious things that could happen.
How to build a buffer against problems you don’t control.
Furthermore, when an artist sells direct to collectors, they give themselves a buffer against the problems that invariably occur when their other distribution channels fail. For example, Facebook might fall from popularity or change its policies that negatively affect you. Galleries are nearly always a tenuous proposition. It is a high-risk business, and only the best stay around for a long time.
Selling direct to collectors is not all artists need to do to get seen and sold. I don’t recommend trying to go that route exclusively. I believe having a mix of direct buying collectors and other distribution channels, including galleries, is the healthiest way to grow and sustain an art career.
A book based on 25+ years advising artists.
It is from my deeply held beliefs that I wrote Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof your Career. The book details the steps artists should take to set themselves up for long-term career success.
I am aware from my personal experiences that learning from a book and then taking actions on the suggestions put forth in it is difficult. That is, I can read a book and be excited about the ideas I find in it, but then I will fall well short of taking the steps to reach the goal the author had in mind for the readers. It’s human nature.
A path for artists today.
I also know it’s human nature that you get more done when you commit to taking action by getting involved in an organized program. Moreover, it is far more likely the action will be taken consistently when one is involved in a group where all the participants are on the same path.
The sum of the parts is greater than the sum of the whole.
In those situations, a group dynamic happens, and the participants gain from the encouragement and knowledge offered by the other members. It becomes a classic example of the idea that the sum of the parts is greater than the sum of the whole.
I began this workshop with the idea of four weekly 90-minute recorded webinars as the foundation of the program. After two weeks, I announced there would be a fifth session added to the agenda. It is because I have realized I have more to offer than I can reasonably put forth in just six hours that the four 90-minute sessions allow. To that end, I am committed to continuing to present as much information as I can that I think will help the participating artists.
Making good on promises.
I don’t believe that delivering more content than originally promised will cause a problem for the workshop attendees. My goal is to provide enough ideas, information and inspiration for all who attend so that they will come away with the confidence, commitment and motivation to make a splendid, rewarding career for themselves. I want them to have a plan of action they can use and refine throughout the rest of their career that will help them meet and exceed all their sensibly set goals.
In some ways, that may be an ambitious goal for me. Nevertheless, it reflects what I expect and hope for from the artists involved. I want them to set goals that are realistically attainable, but also a stretch from just being comfortable.
It is never too late or the wrong time to get started.
The way this program is evolving, there is no bad time to get started. Yes, there is some very slight advantage to asking questions in a live session, but they it is easy to pose them the private Facebook group at any time. Otherwise, all the material is recorded and available on demand anytime. Plus, there is new information, new resources, and other material continuously being added to that which is already available.
There you have it. This is my theory and my beliefs on how visual artists today can take control of their careers. If you grasp the concepts, have a buy-in that they will work for you, you can use what you have learned here as your outline to create your success on your terms.
Go it alone or get some help.
If you want some help with more fleshed out ideas and the support of a community of similarly minded artists and me, you should join the 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery Workshop. There are weekly live recorded sessions under way, but it is easy enough to get started now and catch up, or work through the materials at your pace.
At $197 for lifetime access, for most artists, it will cost less than the net profit from selling one original. I am sure the realizations, organization and productivity artists gain will far outweigh the cost to participate. Your small investment today will pay dividends for your art career for as long as you stay in the game.
If you want to register or learn more, CLICK HERE.
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