We kicked off our three-part branding and marketing series with the difference between marketing and branding and then broke branding down in four easy steps to understanding your brand as an artist.
So, we have branding covered. It’s the foundation of every great business. However, it’s just one part of what makes a business great. One of the most difficult challenges every artist faces is not to make a name for themselves, but getting others to recognize that name! That’s where marketing comes in. You need to get the word out. And you need to do this efficiently, effectively, and consistently. The way you do this is to create a marketing plan and strategy, and then implement that strategy consistently throughout your career.
Marketing is the vehicle that takes your brand/product/art to where the people are. It’s your website. It's the content on your website. It’s the blogs you write, the information you share, the emails you send, the direct mailers you send, the social media accounts you manage, the ads you purchase, the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you utilize to attract more followers, and the events you host in order to build and maintain personal relationships. Marketing is necessary for all stages of an art business' selling journey.
In this blog, I will go into detail about what you need to do to establish a strategic marketing plan:
Chakras by Maria D'Souza
Build and optimize your website.
We already established your brand as an artist in last week's blog. You should have an overall idea of the look and feel you want to convey to your audience. Now you need to apply these things to create your online presence. You need a website. And let me assure you from an art buyer’s perspective, website design is more than just “looking pretty.” Your website is YOUR BRAND. It’s your audience’s first impression of you, but it also needs to be functional. It needs to be concise. (The average person clicks-through or out of a page in less than three seconds!) Give your audience a reason to stay or give them enough information as possible with as few words as possible. You need to immediately greet your audience’s attention. For artists – it will be your work. Your pages should not appear cluttered. The work should be well curated (just as you would for a tradeshow). If you’re not tech-savvy, hire a web designer to help you. Some finer points:
- Invest in photography. Since you’re showcasing artwork it’s also imperative that you have high-quality photos of yourself, your art, your studio, and completed projects. Be sure to have professional headshots as well as images of you and your work environment, along with action shots that show, for example, you working in your studio. This will help with portraying who you are to your clients and potential clients. Beautiful photos are worth the time, expense and effort, and they’ll make you look polished and reliable.
- Make it easy for people to contact and reach you. Visitors come to your website to learn about your business, but they also want to know the person behind the scenes. By creating a streamlined one-click contact section, you’ll ensure that they can easily find and connect with you. Make sure to include your email address, business phone number, and links to social media pages. (Tip: Avoid those annoying email security contact pages on your website. Gallery owners, like myself, hate these because we have to wait for you to respond. Many times, if I’m looking to buy art and need information quickly, and I see this, I simply move on to another artist and that artist loses a potential sale.)
- Focus on your content. Make sure it is excellent. Every marketing major knows the oft-repeated statement: “Content is King.” And it is. The content you have on your website is what will ultimately attract your clients. Google’s search algorithms are designed so that relevant, timely, and consistent keywords drive users to your site. It’s not just about selling either – it’s about informing. Your site has to “offer” something to attract buyers to you. And the blogs and information you write will drive potential buyers to your website. Make sure you're making good use of alt tags on your images, too! Google can't "see" images, so they can only identify images if you put an alternative text when you are uploading them to your site.
Carnival by Ed Schlotzhauer
Get yourself out there on social media.
Yes, content is king. Yes, branding is massively important. Yes, your website looks beautiful, but it will all go to waste if it just sits there in cyberspace. If you build it, they decidedly, won’t come. Let me assure you. As important as all this is without distribution channels (paid and unpaid), as well as a clear understanding of how each works, your content goes to waste.
- Only utilize social media channels that you’re active on. Just because they are out there doesn’t mean you have to be posting on every social media platform there is – trust me, you’ll get burnt out. Focus on social media platforms that favor imagery like Facebook and Instagram since you’ll predominately be sharing visual content. Important tip: don’t post repetitive content. You want your followers to engage with you on each platform (you’ll see why below), and if they’ve already seen the content on another platform your followers will scroll right through it.
- Understand your audience and post engaging content. A huge part of content marketing is knowing when your audience is using the platform. If you have a Facebook and Instagram Business account you can easily access analytics, which shows you when your audience is most likely to be online. Why is this important? “The new Facebook algorithm prioritizes active interactions like commenting and sharing over likes and click-throughs (passive interactions)—the idea being that actions requiring more effort on the part of the user are of higher quality and thus more meaningful.” - Hootsuite. So the more your audience engages with a post like commenting or sharing, Facebook is more likely to continue showing the post to your followers – aka more exposure.
The Power of Paid Advertisement.
Once you have your brand set in place, your website up and running, and you're sharing your art on social media, paid advertising is the next best marketing strategy to get your work out there. Why? Because it allows you to target a specific audience of art buyers. Essentially, paid advertising gets your artwork exposure in all the right places whether you're looking to sell more from your website or connect with interior designers for corporate commissions.
- Do not overlook the power of direct mail. With so much happening in the digital sphere, direct mail stands out. Be sure that it’s a carefully-designed invite or promotion that is sent in the mail to your clients. Nor should you ever hesitate to mail a handwritten and thoughtful thank-you note to a customer. Every touchpoint is an equally important one.
- Paid promotional advertising sets you above the rest. You can pay for ads on social media platforms, but you can also pay for placement in magazines and other publications that put your work in front of buyers. Our annual publication Blink Art Resource was designed to give artists an opportunity to get their work in front of top designers, art consultants, and galleries in North America. The best thing about this paid advertising? The book can be used year-after-year as it is a valuable resource in the libraries of design professionals.
Key takeaways from how to market your art
- Marketing is your connection to your buyer. It’s your website, it’s the blogs you write, the emails you send, the direct mailers you send, the social media accounts you manage, the ads you purchase, the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you utilize, and the events you host.
- Your website is an extension of your brand, but an important marketing tool where buyers engage with your art and go to make a connection with you. So be sure your artwork is looking its best!
- Social media is important, but only impactful when done well. Don’t post to just post. Make sure the content is meaningful and engaging.
- Paid Advertising takes your brand to the next level and helps you target a specific audience.
ART COMES ALIVE – NOW OPEN FOR ENTRIES
Known as the “Academy Awards for Art,” Art Comes Alive (ACA), ADC's annual art competition and exhibit, is embarking on its 10th year of helping artists get their work in front of art-industry professionals such as interior designers, art galleries, private art collectors, and corporate collections. Each year the art competition gets bigger and better, and this year over $300,000 in awards will be given to artists through gallery contracts, purchase awards, publishing contracts, and more!
Buy one entry and get one entry free on a 4-image entry only through Friday, July 12th with the code ACABOGO19 at checkout. That's a total of 8 IMAGES (2 separate entries) for the price of one 4-image entry!