Marketing, Artists and the Bubble

Time to Burst the Marketing Bubble

Marketing, Artists and the Time Bubble

Why doesn’t marketing and art go together?

This is the question I ask myself whenever I visit an art fair.

Every Labor Day weekend, the Art Fair in the Pearl is held in Portland, OR. It pulls serious artists from around the country – from PA, AL, all part of CA and my former home town of Chicago.

Art fairs represent a serious investment of resources on the part of any artist.  For some, this is the only marketing they do.

One lady who creates exquisite silk and wool felted pieces told me it took her 6 months of preparation just for this one show.

A sculptor from Chicago had driven 2300 miles in a truck and van up and down the Rockies and skirted wild fires to get to this one three day event.

Another artist told me he only sold his wares at art fairs – no website, no galleries – just art fairs.

As a marketer, I can’t help but ask if these artists are creating any marketing leveraging from their 3 day exposure.

Answer: Few are.

How do I know?

Over the decades of attending various art fairs, I’ve left my mailing address and/or my email address with hundreds if not thousands of artists.  I can count on one hand the number who have actually mailed or emailed me anything – ever.

Then there are the gonna-get-to-it-one-day websites.  Most artists when asked why they don’t have a website shrug, indicating they don’t have a clue as to why they need a website in 2013.

Here are a few responses to my question.

“I’m so busy designing and making my art I just don’t have time to do my website.”
“Our website is up, but it hasn’t been updated in 3 years, so you won’t see our newest works.  We’re too busy getting ready for and traveling to art fairs to spend time on our website.”
“People don’t want to purchase our works without seeing it in person.” 
“No one goes online to buy art…at least not our art.”

Of course, not! 

Because YOU ARE NOT ONLINE!  Your best or recent work isn’t ONLINE!  HOW COULD THEY?


it is as if these artists reside in a bubble.  Or as if marketing resided in a bubble, too precious to burst.

There is one lady from PA who creates wonderful whimsical mixed media pieces that range anywhere between $600 and $2500.  She has been working the Pearl Art Fair for at least 3 years.

This was the first year she asked for email addresses.  When I asked her why, she explained

“I’m thinking of doing a series of prints and thought it would be a good idea to collect some emails from those interested in my work.”

This is one of those slap-my-forehead-like-in-a-V8-commercial questions.

Wouldn’t it have been helpful to have collected email addresses from all of the admirers from the three years previous?

Not only could she have sold existing works through her email addresses, it also would work for her new product lines.

I not picking on artists.  I love artists, their creativity, their drive and courage.

There are many business owners with expensive brick and mortar storefronts who behave as if they’re in the same bubble and haven’t caught up to the realities of how business operates today. A recent research figure from Google stated 57% of the small businesses in Oregon are without a website.

This is NOT 1984.  This is 2013!

There is room for improvement for all sorts of businesses.

So, here are some factors every business owner needs to understand – including artists.

1.  Who really loves your stuff? 

Answer:  Those who have already purchased it, fondled it, seen it in person…like at an art fair!  They will always be your very best customers and prospects and they will buy more.

2.  These days, someone’s email address is a GIFT. 

If someone gives you their email address, treat it with respect and use it.  That is why they gave it to you!  It is rude to ignore them and senseless to squander.

3.  Sales DO happen online. 

Online sales require three things:  a website designed to sell, products people want to buy and smart email messages encouraging your audience to buy.  That’s it.

Consumers are becoming very accustomed to purchasing online – e-commerce sales are 18% over last year with forecasts for stronger growth in the future thanks to smartphones and tablets.

4.  Shepard your resources.

The costs and efforts associated with email marketing and a website are a tiny drop in the ocean when compared to those of an art fair. Why not use both?

5.  It isn’t this OR that.

To have a functioning website and an email marketing component doesn’t mean you never attend art fairs or close your storefront.  It only means you now have the tools to boost your art fair exposure or storefront business and augment your sales now and for as far into the future as you care to.

6.  Burst the Bubble

While you’re busy focusing on doing your art, the thing you love, the world continues to turn and change.  Don’t hang-on to outdated thinking. Come up for air occasionally and see what is going on around you.

If you’re an artist or a business owner struggling with sales, ask yourself if you are really doing all that you can to share your art and sell your products.

I think you’ll discover you are not doing nearly enough. Worse you’re squandering some golden marketing opportunities.

If you’d like to find out more about how email marketing can help, you may be interested in checking out these posts:

5 Steps to Make Your Email Marketing More Effective

Email Marketing 10 Times Better Than Social Media – Infographic

Email Marketing – What Does It Take To Get An Open? InfoGraphic

Email Marketing 10 Times Better Than Social Media – Infographic

Find a trusted someone to help you with the business side of your business.  You’ll be happier and so will your customers.

If you’d like to learn more about how to market your art and products online, why don’t you sign-up for our weekly newsletter by clicking the button below?  It will give you the marketing low down and keep you moving forward.

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Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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