We hear it all the time, "I’d like to advertise when there is a feature on an artist we sell, a style we sell, or a special feature that relates to our artwork." We encourage this, of course. But there is an upside and a down side.

Upside: If there is an article on an artist, a movement, a style that very artice can create interest from a reader in owning one of those works. It’s not uncommon for a gallery who has paintings by a particular artist to want to have their ad appear in that issue. Often people will pick up the phone, go to the web site and in some way respond to that ad. It often works. Sometimes it does not.

Why it sometimes does not work: Many things inpact the results of an ad. The image advertised might be an artist they love but might not be a painting they love. The ad design may not appeal to the particular reader, may not get their attention. Perhaps some element of the ad does not motivate the buyer to call. (OF course these days calls are more rare. People browse the website and if nothing interests them, you’ll never know they visited.)

One of the big issues hampering immediate response to an ad tied to editorial… they don’t know you.
Trust is a critical part of the buying process. It has always been an issue but its a bigger issue with internet scams at an all time high. Your gallery could be 50 years old and have an excellent reputation, but if it does not have a reputation with this individual, they are often reluctant to trust you right away. Lets say you’re known by an audience of another art publication, but lets say you decide to advertise in a publication that is new. Perhaps 10% of the audience is duplicated (meaning they receive the other publication too) and therefor they are comfortable with you. What about the 90% who readers who don’t know you? (We all get so close to our business that we believe everyone knows us. But there are new people coming into the market daily.)

The best way to build trust beyond word of mouth? Repetition. The more people notice you, see your ads, and become comfortable, the more they begin to trust you. Just like a new friend. Time builds relationships. If you rate low on their awareness scale, you probably rate low on the trust scale. So frequency of advertising builds trust.

DOWNSIDE: Most people who run art galleries are experts in art, but frequently are not marketers. Therefore they will run a single ad with high expectations. If they are not met, its usually considered our fault. Aside from the other elements that influence results (mentioned above) along with other issues like timing, economy, etc. the bigger issue is that single ads rarely work well. Campaigns work. In these days of political campaigns candidates work hard to be seen and heard over and over again. They try to get to crowds for speaking engagements, try to get quoted on television and radio, and they reinforce it with multiple ads? Why? Single impressions don’t work. Each impression has an impact and makes us like or trust them a little bit more (or less).

Single ads sometimes do work when all the stars align. But frankly, its rare. Campaigns work to build awareness, trust, reinforce the quality of your brand. Buyers cannot usually articulate that, however they know when they are comfortable and ready to call.