In the September Art Festival Newsletter, I discussed why the words you use matter in making a sale. The next step to having a successful business selling your art is creating the organization that supports follow up with those clients that 1) may have walked away and 2) existing clients that may not have made it to the show. Over the years, as an artist myself, I learned how much time and energy it can take for someone to commit to acquiring your artwork.
I know that every artist's experience in selling their work will be different. As you create your unique selling experience to different collectors and new customers, remember to be flexible, be yourself and try to have some fun in the process.
#1: You need a system for follow-up and tools to implement the system. Are you still using an Excel sheet to track all of your inventory, sales, and contacts? It may work for some, but if you're looking to take your art business to the next level you'll very likely benefit from inventory software created especially for artists. This software allows you to add detailed contact information, obtain email history and categorize contacts into groups. These tools help you to keep a focus on customer relationship management. And there are a variety options to choose from - click here to find the best software for you.
#2: Timing is everything. People buy when they're ready to buy, not when you're ready to sell. This means you have to be ready to follow up with them in a timely manner. Make sure that your clients know where you are going to be showcasing your art, what is new on your website or social media pages, and how to reach you.
#3: Integrate sales and marketing. Send relevant, valuable information to every prospective client. Keep a record of what they liked and personalize your communication about that particular piece of art after the show. You can do this by sending a note (email) with a photo of the piece that intrigued your prospective client, and the important details like size and materials to keep it fresh. Log all communications between you and the prospective client in an organized fashion (See above for system options). Arm yourself with an arsenal of specific information about your art that you can send on request - photos, size, delivery options, cost. Track the progress of your outreach so that you know when to follow up. Don't be afraid of multiple attempts. I have had clients return 5 years after the initial purchase because I continued to invite them to the events and I gave them visuals of what I was creating.
#4: You must have a living, breathing customer database. If you want the strongest possible customer base, you must actively, systematically, and methodically build your customer base. I personally have found that postcards still work to bring my clients to an art show. I change the image every season and when possible write a small note to personally invite my clients to the event. I recommend getting all the information possible - street address, email and phone number. All your contact information needs to be entered and stored in the database (again, see above).
#5: Keep it Current. Your follow-ups must have value, or you'll wear out your welcome fast. Educating your patrons on your process, progress and what motivates your art is the keystone to creating patrons vs. clients. As Jason Horejs has succinctly stated "While it is true that your chances of making a sale to someone who has walked away may decrease dramatically, they don't decrease to zero, and so follow-up becomes a numbers game."