Its three AM. I awaken and my mind is racing. Things to do, business to conduct. In the old days I’d awaken, make my list and return to sleep because I could not implement my work until morning. Today I awaken, delegate some projects by email and return to bed. Sometimes I use this time to focus on things I need to do, which I cannot accomplish during the day. On-line travel, purchases, etc.

A few weeks ago I was told of a product I wanted to purchase. I went to the website, which said "download a pdf of our catalog." They did not have an on-line catalog to view the products, they did not have an interactive pdf so I could click to purchase. The site said, "Once you determine the items you wish to purchase call our 800 number and we’ll take your order. CLICK. I’m gone.

Sorry to be so impatient. Weeks have passed and I have not purchased the product. Once I returned to the web in hopes something had changed. It had not. Of course I Googled the product in hopes of finding it elsewhere, but I did not. If I wanted this product I was forced to buy from them… by picking up the phone. No such luck. Time passed, I forgot.

I’m sorry to admit I have become impatient with anyone who cannot fulfill my needs via the web. I have become so accustomed to purchasing on line, gathering research, finding needed information that when I encounter someone who does business the old fashioned way I don’t like it. AND because my life seems so busy and complicated, I often don’t buy. Maybe I intend to eventually but picking up the phone has become a major inconvenience. how does this relate to you? Dealers tell me they still expect the phone to ring, yet it is happening less in less in response to advertising (in any publication). Advertising is not less effective, people are simply less interested in the encounter.

Start your timer…now.

– Look up the number: 20 seconds
– Ring: -20 seconds
– "Hello, welcome to XYZ Gallery. My name is Melissa, how may I help you." 25 seconds.
-"Hi Melissa, how are you today? My name is Eric and I saw a painting in a magazine and I would like to find out a little about the painting." 25 seconds.
– "Sure Eric, let me connect you with someone who can answer your question." 20 seconds.
– Hold music. 3 minutes.
– "Hi, how may I help you. My name is Patrick." 10 seconds.
– "Hi Patrick, how are you today? My name is Eric and I am interested in a painting I saw featured in a magazine. Can you help me?"- 20 seconds
– "Sure, I’d be glad to Eric. Can I ask you what magazine and the date of the magazine so I know what painting you’re referring to?" 20 seconds.
– "Of course, it’s Fine Art Connoisseur, page 45, the August Issue. Its a painting by John Singer Sergent. 20 seconds.
– "One moment please. Shuffling of papers. 2 minutes."
– "Oh, here it is. That painting is called "Mountain Fog." it was painted in 1866 and it is a 30×40 in oil. It came from the collection of the collector William Harris." 2 minutes.
– Great, Patrick. How much is it? 10 seconds.
– Eric that painting is $1 million dollars." But, hmmm, let me see, oh that painting is sold. 20 seconds
– OK, thanks Patrick.  5 seconds.
– Yes, Eric. Are you interested in this artist? I can take your name and address and call you if I get another. 20 seconds.
– That would be nice. My name and address are….. 30 seconds.

Whew. Compare that dialog with going to the website, clicking on the image, gathering the information, seeing the price, finding out its sold or not, entering my info (one click with auto fill) and I’m in and out in 1 minute. Compare.

Many dealers tell me they force people to call. Of course they wish to capture the lead and try to sell the prospect. That makes perfect sense, but fewer people will call and therefore if your Internet strategy is not easy, fast, and does not require too much information you will get a lot of business. Plus they can browse at 3 am, like I do, point and click to own, and ship anywhere in the world.

I may be wrong but I know my own patience is tested by the phone and I need to save time. Many dealers do not list price. I personally think that may be a mistake. One dealer I know sold a $600,000 piece from his website because he listed the price. It was shipped outside of the US. Others insist on forcing a phone call. Time will tell what the right strategy is.

At 3am one night I found a painting I had to own. I clicked, purchased it, gave my paypal account and it arrived about two weeks later…from Russia, which was the only reason for the delay because it was too big (5ft x 6ft) to ship overnight and it had to pass customs. In another case I emailed offering a lower price, danced by email for a day and ended up purchasing the work at a reduced rate. Again, from Russia. 

We all have to tune into a revised strategy. My 80 year old parents are on-line and on email, shopping and not wanting to pick up the phone. Younger people who are the Internet generation will not buy unless you’re on-line and make it easy. If we’re not there for them we may loose their business, even if we have a one-of-a-kind painting. Therefore its time to adapt to these changes. Advertising works, exposes artworks and brands your gallery, and it is also an excellent tool to drive traffic to your site with qualified collectors. If you make it easy and let me shop on my schedule, even at 3am, I’ll buy from you.