A wise mentor once asked me what I thought would be the best way to grow my business. When I told him I thought I should bring in more customers, he scolded me politely and told me I was wrong.
He then asked me what my most valuable asset in the business was. Of course I told him it was my product and my people. Strike two. I was wrong again.
Selling art is, well, a business. Selling anything, even lemonade on the street, is a business. So if I asked you the same questions, what would you answer?
Last week, after teaching my Art Marketing Boot Camp on stage at the Plein Air Convention and revealing my new Art Marketing in a Box™ system, I was approached by a woman in the audience. She was a gallery owner and had a reputation as a top marketer. And it turned out that, based on what I revealed in this new system, she too hadn’t had the right answers.
Are you ready?
The best way to grow your business is from your real most valuable asset: your existing customers.
How can that be?
Ever heard of a collector who keeps buying paintings from one artist? Of course. It happens all the time.
The bottom line is that a new customer is harder to sell than an old one. You have to help them fall in love with your art, tell your story, and make them trust you enough to spend money. Existing customers already know about you, already love your work, have already trusted you enough to buy from you, and have a painting of yours hanging on their walls.
Yet the most overlooked opportunity is the past customer.
What can you do?
First, it’s important to know the names of your customers so you can develop a dialogue. CAUTION: If you have a gallery, they’ll need to know you won’t violate your agreement and sell direct.
Once you have names, you’ll need to stay in touch on a regular basis. People will forget about you faster than you think. This is why campaigns and newsletters are important. Stay in their minds.
Finally, think in terms of building a lost-customer activation campaign. Recently we took a list of former subscribers who had not renewed, contacted them, and had a high percentage re-subscribe. We had assumed that once they were gone, they were gone forever. We were wrong.
What can you do to “reactivate” lost customers?
Well, if you’ve not stayed visible, you need to start being visible again. You can send a simple note, handwritten would be nice, simply saying you remember selling them a painting in the past and you’d love to show them what you’ve painted recently. Then invite them over, or invite them to your website, or to join your newsletter list.
It’s that simple.
Yes, there are more sophisticated ways to approach this, which we will discuss in the future. But start small. It’s amazing how a simple outreach can bring old customers back.
Thanks Eric, most helpful and a good reminder for many of us.
I sold a painting a few years ago and kept in touch with the client inviting them to exhibitions where my work would be exhibited. I was building the relationship, looking after it. They were/are such a lovely family. I wasnt doing it at any annoying rate, just enough to keep in touch. Three years later he asked me to do some commissions of their family farm which has been in the family for almost 100 years. These are to be handed down through generations of the family and how humbling and what an honor that is for me. I am still working on these but in the meantime that family and their extended family have become good friends of mine, even welcoming me to the farm for Christmas. Life is good.
Make lot of sense Eric. Thanks for reminding me this key concept!
Very good idea. Eric, I wish you would write a book or an ebook. I have all of the Bootcamps and can’t wait for the “Box” to come out. I like having the written material to refer back to. Let me know if you do. Thanks for all you do.