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Art Marketing Circle IV: Website
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OK, on to the article…..
We’re continuing our members-only series outlining our Circles of Art Marketing framework. If you’re a new member, or missed what we covered previously, I recommend you catch up on the series at the following links:
Alright, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at Art Marketing Circle IV - Sales…
You will notice this Circle of Art Marketing, Sales, has a marked difference in flavor.
For your business, this is the circle where everything comes together. Your activities in all of the circles outside of this one, you attempt to pull people ever closer until they finally enter this circle. In other words, in those outer circles, you generate demand. And all of your efforts in the circles inside of this one, you must push to get your work to the point it is worthy and ready to be presented for sale. In other words, in the inner circles, you create supply.
This circle, Sales, is where supply and demand (hopefully) meet.
Sales is where the inner three circles meet the outer three circles. It’s where your product meets your true fans. And, the most important takeaway to remember about this circle is this:
Somebody must be actively selling your art.
So far in this series, we’ve looked at:
This week we’re going to take a look at Your Art Website. What it is for, and why you need one. Let’s dive in……
Your website is an online “venue” for sales. More and more, people will, as I wanted to in the black cat painting fiasco, purchase directly online. Those are easy “gimme” sales, and certainly they do happen, but more often, someone who visits your website will inquire first (and you website should have a way, preferably on each work of art, for the visitor to make an inquiry). And that inquiry ends up back in the hands of your salesperson.
Your website, by the way, is a place for your audience and true fans (upcoming chapters) to see new art, communicate with you, and make purchases. It is not the place generally where you acquire new customers, though it can happen.
A big thing people overlook in setting up an art website is that they think it can sell things automatically. It can’t. The purchase is usually just the last step of a process involving communication, back and forth. In other words: the last step of a sales process. Even the big art sites such as Saatchi have art consultants that people can talk to and confer with. If you think that you can set up a website and have things sell on autopilot, you are going to need to change your mindset.
When people purchase from a website, the purchase itself is just one small piece of the whole puzzle. And, the more expensive the item, the more assurance and hand holding people require. For example, people may want to ask you questions first. People may have concerns about the shipping, or if the piece is framed or not. Or what happens if they want to return it? What is the process? Some of this can be mitigated with very clear pricing and very clear policies, but it can’t be overcome completely. Somebody needs to be committed to be the point of contact to help your website customers and that person needs to be committed to provide prompt and courteous service.
You may assume that you can handle it yourself, but be honest with yourself and your strengths, if you are not truly motivated to do it yourself, you may cause yourself more problems. Let me share a brief story with you, I shared a longer version of this story here.
I wanted to buy a particular type of painting, in this case, as a gift. For the particular person I wanted to give the painting to, I specifically wanted an original painting of a black cat. This is a pretty unusual situation, where someone is seeking a specific subject, however, it does happen. I found an artist who painted cats. I looked at her art, and I loved it. I went through every artwork on her website and found two paintings I loved, of black cats. Neither painting indicated if it was available and neither painting was priced (first big mistake here, if I could have purchased one right off the website, I would have). After way too much hunting on her site, I figured out how to contact her. I sent the artist an email inquiring about both paintings, saying I wanted to purchase one and asked if one or both were available and what the prices were. Excitedly, I waited for her response……….for about two weeks.
By the time I received the response, I had cooled on the idea considerably, and had kind of forgotten about the idea. Huge mistake waiting that long. What was her response? “Both of those pieces are sold.” That’s all she said.
So, still wanting to get a gift for my friend, I decided to persist. I replied to her email and asked, “OK, thanks for letting me know. I really love your art, do you have any other pieces of black cats that aren’t pictured on your website?”
And again, excitedly waited for a response. And, as of this writing, I’ve been waiting for over three months for her response.
The message I am receiving from this artist (intentional or not) is I don’t care about you, leave me alone.
Don’t be this person! If someone inquires about an artwork, that is a huge buying signal. Be responsive and courteous! And if you can’t, work with someone who will be able to handle your contacts and purchase requests.
So, how would a “real” salesperson have handled this situation differently? (And how do I recommend you handle it?)
If I had been the salesperson I would have done the following:
1. Responded to the request immediately. At the very least, I would have not allowed more than 24 hours to pass before responding. If I wasn’t sure I would have responded and said, “Thanks so much for your inquiry. I’m delighted you love my art! I will check on those two pieces and get back with you ASAP.”
2. My response would have proactively taken the next step:
“Unfortunately those two pieces are sold. However, as you can see, I often paint cats, I’ve attached an image of a larger one I have and it is priced at $X,XXX, would that one be of interest to you?” or “Unfortunately those two pieces are sold. May I reach out to you when I paint another one to see if you are still in the market?” or “Unfortunately, those two pieces are sold. May I offer you a print of one?” or “Unfortunately, those two pieces are sold. May I add you to my art alert email list so the next time I paint one you will see it as soon as I post it?”
Can you see how much better my interaction with her could have been? And how she missed a golden opportunity to expand her prospect list?
You may have noticed one of my responses in the above example asked, “May I reach out to you when I paint another one?”
You might be asking yourself, how is she ever going to remember to reach out to you in the future? That is why I recommended and shared an easy and inexpensive way to set up a simple Customer Relationship Management system to keep detailed notes about each prospect.
Thanks so much for reading! Next week we’ll wrap this series up and after that, we’ll move out to the next circle, True Fans.
See ya then!
PS - If you need an art website BoldBrush offers two solutions. We run FASO Artist Websites (The easiest way and fastest to get art online and ready to sell) and, for those who want a more customizable option (with a steeper learning curve), we now offer our own flavor of Squarespace websites bundled with BoldBrush’s marketing resources.
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