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Clobbered By My Own Advice


The Power Of Repetition 


My kids desperately want a dog, but their mother and I have mixed feelings about taking care of their animal once the kids go off to college in three years. But at every turn, when we ask them a question of any kind … like, “What do you want for dinner?” or, “What do you want to do this weekend?” the answer is always, “I want to go get a dog.”

Just yesterday my wife saw twin dogs online that are available for adoption. Suddenly the kids went into sales mode to convince us to get one of those dogs.

Last night as I walked into my studio there was an 8” x 10” glossy of the dog on my easel. When I went to bed, there was one on my pillow. When I got up this morning, there was one at the breakfast bar. And today when I came to work, there was one on my keyboard.

Though I’ve been pretty opposed to a dog for all the practical reasons, I have to admit, each time I see the picture, it melts my heart a little more and I get a little closer to saying yes. In fact, I’ve already gone from a firm “no” to a “maybe,” and I’ve even agreed to go visit and meet the twins this weekend.

Of course my kids have clobbered me with the advice I’ve given them about marketing. Repetition is powerful. The more people see something, the more it warms them up.

Back in the dark ages when I first learned marketing, the average marketer needed four repetitions to sell something. Then it went up to seven. Now, with all the noise in media, some experts say the number has doubled to about 15 impressions.

Ever wonder why you see things on television or hear things on radio over and over again?

The first reason is that it takes a certain number of impressions to sell someone. For discussion, let’s say it takes 10 impressions. Does that mean you only run 10 ads? Nope, it means the ad needs to reach an individual 10 times. If you ran 10 ads and the prospect happened to see only five of them, then it’s not enough. The prospect needs X number of impressions to be sold.

The other reason frequency is important is that circumstances change and moods change. For instance, a dealer once told me about a man who kept coming into his gallery for years but never bought anything. Then one day he came in and dropped a half million bucks. When questioned, the man said, “I had kids in college and no extra cash. Plus, I just sold my business for a lot of money, so now I can afford to collect.”

You see, tire companies or car dealers repeat constantly on television because they know you may not be in the market today, but if you blow out your tires, or decide you want a new car tomorrow, they need to be there when you begin to move into shopping mode. Most of us ignore all those ads until we decide we’re in the market, then we start paying attention.

One more reason for repetition is what is called top-of-mind awareness. You may not need tires now, but the goal is to hammer a message into your brain so that when you do need tires, you know exactly where to go. (But just in case you don’t, you’ll always find tire ads in the sports section of the local paper or on your local station.)

I believe people go through a few stages to get to a purchase. The first is attention — you have to get noticed. Then they move into the interest stage. They may think, “Hmm, maybe this is for me. I’ll have to pay closer attention next time.” Then they move to the desire stage. “Yes, this is for me. I should do something about it someday.” Of course, some then move into the purchase stage. “I’m going to buy this one day.”

Most marketers blow it because they forget that everyone has their own timing, and therefore you need to be there all the time for those who are coming into the market.

For example, let’s say you have an article coming out about your art in an art magazine like Fine Art Connoisseur. It’s not uncommon for a gallery or the artist to advertise in an issue with an article. But you’re assuming instant action. People don’t work that way. They may be thinking, “I’ll keep an eye on this artist,” but then your ads are not in the next issue, or the next, and there’s nothing to remind them of you or your work.

I once talked to a collector who told me he saw an article on an artist and decided he wanted to buy one of the paintings in the article. He set the magazine down, fully intending to go back to it, call, and inquire about the painting. But later, he couldn’t find the magazine and he didn’t remember the name of the artist or the gallery that advertised. He never did find the name of that artist.

Yet if that same artist had repeated her ad in the following couple of issues, she would have increased her chances of reaching and reminding this collector, and others. The ad could have even said, “As featured in the April issue of Fine Art Connoisseur.”

Why is repetition important?

Every person needs a certain number of impressions to take them through the levels of attention, interest, desire, and purchase.

People are always in and out of the market. One day they have no money, the next day they have money from a bonus, an inheritance, or some other event.

Moods change. A person can feel poor the day they have to replace their roof and feel rich the following week because their business made a big sale. Also, if they happen to see your ad on a day when they are in a bad mood, you need to make sure it keeps being seen so they see it in a different mood. That’s why I like to re-send direct mail campaigns.

You’re creating top-of-mind awareness so they think of you when they have money burning a hole in their pocket or a house that needs some paintings.

Branding. Building your brand takes repetition over years so that people will hold you in higher esteem, which will make you the choice if they are deciding between two paintings, will sell you as a status item (sorry, but it’s true), and will help you get higher prices because you’re well known. It will also drive people to you for events and shows, which then builds on your brand.

I’ll let you know the outcome of the puppy campaign, but my gut tells me I’ve already lost that battle. Certainly, repetition has softened me up.

By |2017-03-31T11:42:03-05:00March 31st, 2017|Branding|18 Comments

Your Thanksgiving Demo, and My Thanksgiving Wish for You

Eric Rhoads Thanksgiving Message 2017 for artists


A Note from Art Publisher Eric Rhoads

Dear Friends,


Life these days tends to go faster than a Porsche on the Autobahn. We’re all busy.

Thankfully, we’re forced hit the brakes and slow down around the holidays. It is at this time of year I try to cool my jets, rest up for the coming year, and take inventory of my blessings and my friends.


I feel especially blessed to have you, my art family. Art has changed my life. Just seeing life through the eyes of an artist, viewing life as color, light, form, shape, and atmosphere is a blessing. Translating beauty to canvas enriches our lives, as does painting outdoors en plein air, when we can be a part of nature.


I’m very thankful for the “new life” I was given when art entered it many years ago, and for the great friendships I’ve developed as a result of this journey. I’m grateful for your embrace of our magazines, events, products, and videos.


I often say you can’t have a bad day when surrounded by art, artists, and people who love art. I feel very blessed each day.


But I never say thank you enough, and it’s clear that my family (and the families of my team members) would not eat without your support. I try to remind myself of this every day and try to make it clear to my children that their band uniforms, books, electronics, and meals on the table are a result of a lot of good people who trust us to provide things they need to inspire them or make them better.


I am truly humbled by your support and the confidence you place in us.


You have allowed me to serve you, and for that I am grateful. It’s my goal to serve you with generosity. My life has been enriched by spending my time around people, like yourself, who have been blessed with a passion for creating or appreciating the arts.


You are special people. You see life through different eyes.


My great passion is to help others discover what we’ve each found in our own way. Life is more fulfilling with art-making at our fingertips. And it’s my belief that it’s not about inborn talent, it’s about convincing those who say, “I wish I could do that, but I’ve got no talent,” that they can learn it, because it’s a process simply requiring instruction, practice, and passion. Therefore when you’re approached, consider putting the brush in their hand and finding a way to convince them to take a risk on a chance for a better life by trying painting.


Perhaps, as you gather with family and friends this week, and through the holidays, you can change a life or two by offering a little Thanksgiving painting demonstration for those uninterested in football. Maybe you can inspire a child, a teen, an adult, or a senior. It’s never too early or too late. Your willingness to take the time to inspire others could give them the gift you were once given.


It is my prayer that your Thanksgiving is surrounded with laughter, love, and people who make you happy. It’s my wish that you use these times to rest, regenerate, find inspiration, and take a deep, well-deserved break to get ready for an incredible 2017.


Don’t fear whatever the future holds. We don’t know, we cannot control it, but we can continue to make the world a better place by opening the hearts of others through our art. It’s never been needed more, and I see no higher purpose for all of us than healing the world through artwork and inspiring others to find the artist within themselves.


Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.


Eric Rhoads



Fine Art Connoisseur * PleinAir * Artists On Art * Fine Art Today * Plein Air Today * Plein Air Salon

By |2016-11-23T15:10:19-05:00November 23rd, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

The Magic Lamp: Just Rub It and Your Art Career Will Soar

Magic lamp art marketing eric rhoads art marketing.com


Much like the Fountain of Youth, I think we all tend to seek out a “magic lamp.” All we have to do is rub it, and “Poof!” A genie will grant us the success we dream of.


Over decades as a marketer, I have sometimes fallen prey to the belief that a magic lamp exists — and I’m happy to report that yes, indeed it does. There is a way to rub a magic lamp and watch your career go “poof” toward success. It will take more effort on your part than you might have hoped, but if you rub the lamp, it will happen.


A “magic lamp” is usually the promise of something too good to be true, raising unrealistic expectations of success with little effort or small investment.


I’m always looking for shortcuts, and even when I know something seems too good to be true, it often tempts me. So I spend my money in hopes of magical results, and poof! Nothing happens.


The biggest seduction in art marketing is the belief that big audience numbers can equal instant success from a single ad. Yet every time I fall into that trap, I wish I had realized that the physics of marketing always matter. There are things that will give you that desired success, and things that won’t. Violating the physics of marketing almost never works.


Most think that advertising to a big audience is like rubbing the lamp. “If only,” they think … “If only I advertise to a giant audience, I’ll sell a painting, or a couple of dozen.”


So they prepare an ad, pay the money, and poof! The money is gone, and there are no results from rubbing that magic lamp.


Oh, in case you think an experienced marketer like me doesn’t sometimes fall for it, think again. One year I decided that the subscribers to a major auction house list would be great potential subscribers for one of my magazines targeting art collectors. It was a big number, and a very high price.


I ran a spreadsheet, and told myself that if just 2 percent signed up, I’d pay for the campaign and make money on it. So I paid $18,000 for one ad, and poof! Something amazing happened. My money disappeared and I sold a grand total of two $40 subscriptions. It cost me $9,000 per subscriber.


Of course I kept waiting for more results, rationalizing that some readers hadn’t seen it yet, or some hadn’t responded yet.


Nothing happened other than my feeling like a buffoon for throwing away a big amount of money.


If there is a magic lamp to marketing art, it is to follow the physics of marketing. I’ve found that every time the physics are right, the results are amazing, and every time I try to shortcut the physics, I fail.


Here is the formula.


Massive Frequency + Great Creative + Targeted Audience + Concentrated Audience + Time + A Ready Buyer + Stability


How big or how small an audience is really does not matter. It’s a trap we all fall into, but the reality is that a small audience could result in the sale of every painting you could possibly produce.


Though it seems logical to believe the odds are better because you are exposed to more people, more isn’t what you need.


The physics of advertising work very much the way friendships work, or the way business relationships work.

  • When you meet someone new at a cocktail party, it’s a quick hello.
  • If by chance there is some interest in getting to know the person, you may engage in a conversation.
  • Then maybe you run into them at another event, and remember you found them interesting.
  • That conversation may lead to a follow-up call or meeting.
  • Then maybe another call or meeting.
  • If, over time, the relationship gels, it can turn into a casual friendship.
  • Combined with time, that friendship might lead to a deep friendship, at which time trust happens.
  • The longer the time, the deeper the trust.
  • The deepest relationships tend to develop over long periods of time.


But there are also other factors to relationships, like chemistry and bonds through common interests.

In the early stages, you know you don’t dare abuse the relationship with a big ask, like a favor or an introduction. It’s just too soon to ask for anything, and doing so could result in the end of the budding friendship. If you ask for too much, too soon, or inappropriately, trust is lost. But the deeper the relationship, the bigger the possible ask.


Let’s examine the elements of the formula, the “magic lamp”:


Advertising and marketing is about frequency. The more they see you, the closer you get to a point of awareness, then deeper awareness, then the early stages of interest, then deeper stages of interest, then finally trust and its deeper stages as well.  


Frequency is different from repetition. Frequency is the number of impressions a single individual receives within a certain amount of time. For instance, you could repeat an ad in a publication, but if a person didn’t see or notice that instance of the ad, that repetition doesn’t count toward their frequency.


Marketers have known for decades that a person needs to have a frequency of seven before they will be ready to buy something. If you can get seven impressions — repetitions that are seen — within a shorter window, the process can, in theory, be sped up.


But if you’re selling art, the message has to get someone’s attention and appeal to their interest and the buyer has to be in the right mood and the timing right to buy.


Great Creative:

The problem is that most advertising is competing for the attention of the buyer. We are all exposed to thousands of ad messages every day. Which ones are going to get you to sit up and take notice?


The creative is the content of your ad, made up of your design, your headline, the art featured, the story or message you’re communicating, and the call to action.


In the art world, most ads tend to look alike.


I was once in a meeting with an advertising agency and the CEO of a company who wanted them to help him sell aluminum siding. His instructions to the agency: Don’t do a before-and-after picture. Why? That’s what all the other aluminum siding companies did.

What are you going to do to stand out? If you’re in a 100-page magazine with 40 pages of ads, why will someone stop and read your ad instead of the other 39?

The answer is in powerful creative concepts. Frankly, the most important part of any ad is the headline. Ninety-five percent of the results from an ad will come from a powerful headline that stops the reader in her tracks.


Once you have a great headline, the other elements come into play, like a great opening line, a real emotional connection through your story or message, and a call to take a specific action. Plus information on how to get in touch with you, and an incentive to do so right now.


Concentrated Audience:

Perhaps the biggest mistake people make, and one of the most common, is assuming that the people who read one art magazine read another. Though there is some overlap, it’s not all that large. So an advertiser will run an ad or two, not see results, and jump ship to a different publication. A couple of ads there and they jump ship to another, then another, and so on. It is imperative to concentrate your advertising in a single place. Otherwise you lose momentum and the opportunity to build awareness and trust.


Though using multiple publications or mediums is fine, you should only do it if you can afford to dominate and build the necessary frequency over long periods of time.


Targeted Audience:

Big audiences alone are not enough. You could go into Reader’s Digest, with millions of readers, but the chances of selling art would be slim. You could even go into an art publication with a big audience and still have a slim chance of selling. You need a publication or website or mail list that has a proven track record of selling paintings in the price range of the paintings you’re selling.

Many publications sell wholesale copies for a few dollars to build their audience numbers. Their subscribers love art, but they may not have two dimes to rub together. If they’re not buyers, the audience numbers might be good for your ego, but ego strokes won’t pay your rent.



Like friendship, it takes time to build awareness, interest, and trust before anyone will take action. People want to watch you, see if you consistently produce good results, see indicators that you are becoming successful or collectable. They might discover you, love your work and be keeping an eye on you, but are not responding because, in their mind, it’s not time yet. About the time you’re getting frustrated that you’re not getting any results is about the time people are just starting to pay attention. Marketing is a commitment of time — an ongoing commitment. As long as you’re in the art business, you’re in art marketing.


How much time? You’ll need to assume that as long as you are in business, you’ll need to keep a constant presence with the audience you have chosen. It takes about one year to start seeing results, but the second year makes up for the lack of sales in the first, and it builds on itself over time. The more your brand grows, the more trust, prominence, and collectability grow. Old Masters are famous both because they were, in fact, masters, but also because of the passage of time — their names have been known for generations. The good news is that there are many ways you can speed up time, with some good strategic thinking.


A Ready Buyer:

Art purchases are unpredictable. Sometimes the buyer sees a painting and buys it on impulse. Other times it’s because they have a need to fill — a home or office to decorate, a gift to buy. Just because someone sees your ad does not mean they are ready to buy right now. Everyone has their own timing. Maybe they get a bonus at work, they sell a business, their kids are no longer in college and they feel flush with cash. There is no way to predict this, and that is why the next point is so important.



Imagine this. Someone looks at an art magazine, and has been seeing your paintings for a few months in a row. They’ve grown to like the work, but don’t always remember the artist’s name yet. Then a new issue comes in, and they see THE painting and decide they want to buy it. They mark the page and put the magazine in a pile, fully intending to go online or inquire about the price. But they get distracted, they forget, life goes on, and you fall off their radar. Then the next issue of the magazine comes in and they suddenly remember, “Last month there was an artist in here I was interested in. Who was it?” So they flip through looking for an ad that reminds them of your name or your painting. It’s not there. They move on, and you miss a sale.


Stability means a constant presence. Understanding that people won’t remember your name and that it takes a long time to get them to remember it, so you need to be there at all times. They may have a birthday gift to buy and know their spouse liked your work, but neither can remember your name. If you’re not always present, you’re not there when they come into the market to buy.


We discovered that this is true of articles, too. If someone views your work in an article, not only do you need to be present in that issue so they know how to find you, you need to remind them of yourself for at least one or two issues after. People get busy and forget to take action, and your presence in the issue acts as a reminder.


It took me decades of mistakes and experimentation in the advertising and magazine publishing business to understand how this all really works. It really is counter-intuitive.


If you want to build an overnight success, just know that physics still apply. Though there are strategies you can employ to speed the process, it still requires all the key elements of the physics of marketing. This is the closest thing I have found to the magic lamp, and if followed, it will grant you all your wishes.

About the author:
Eric Rhoads has been a publisher of ad-based magazines for over 25 years and is the publisher of Fine Art Connoisseur, PleinAir, and Artists on Art magazines. He writes a regular blog on art marketing at www.artmarketing.com and has produced five videos in the Art Marketing Boot Camp series on art marketing techniques and strategy, available at www.streamlineartvideo.com.

By |2016-08-03T15:28:13-05:00August 3rd, 2016|Branding|0 Comments

Mining Old Gold: The BEST Way to Sell More Artwork

The best way to sell more art from Eric Rhoads Art Marketing Boot Camp
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.

By |2016-05-03T18:25:30-05:00May 3rd, 2016|Direct Marketing|3 Comments

Drawing a Line in the Sand as an Artist

Eric Rhoads Artists Drawing a Line in the Sand Marketing

Years ago my wife asked a couple to spend a holiday weekend with us at the lake. When the power went down on Friday afternoon and we realized we’d blown out the breaker box, the husband, an electrician by trade, generously offered to fix it. So we went to the local hardware store to buy the parts. He pointed out what I needed, and I pulled the items off the shelf. I then watched as he grabbed a handful of screws out of a bin, said, “We’ll need these too,” and put them in his pocket. He winked at me and said, “I’ll see you in the car.”


I was mortified.


At the checkout counter, I told the clerk my “friend” stole a handful of screws that I estimated to be worth a dollar or two, but, to be sure, I gave her a twenty. I apologised and went to my car.


I was also fuming mad.


When I got in the car, I asked why he stole the screws, and he started whining about how the store didn’t need the money, that it was just a few pennies, that it was a big chain that was ripping off customers, and lots of other excuses.


I then did something I’ve never done before or since, because I’m not a confrontational kind of person.


I told him he was a common thief and that whether it was dimes, dollars, or thousands of dollars he was stealing, it was all the same to me. I said I don’t hang out with common thieves and that if he would steal from them, he would steal from me.


As I drove to our house, I told him I wouldn’t embarrass him in front of his wife and kids, but that I wanted him to go into the house and say that something came up and they needed to leave right away. I told him I would not tell his family that he was a thief, but he needed to be gone within an hour.

That was the last time I ever had contact with him or his family.


Everyone has to draw a line in the sand.


If someone is a thief, I write them out of my life. If someone betrays me, gossips about me wrongly, is two-faced or lies to me, I try to eliminate them from my life. That is my line in the sand.


Every artist has a line in the sand they must draw, but it’s not often as simple as it was for me in the case of my thieving acquaintance. If a gallery steals from you or doesn’t pay you, or if someone betrays you or lies to you it’s easy to draw a line in the sand and end the relationship.


But the line in the sand I’m talking about for you as an artist might not be quite so clear.


Where do you draw the line when it concerns “selling out” as an artist? It isn’t always about ethics. It’s about what works for you and your career.

For instance, I publish a couple of art magazines. Artists always want articles because those articles help their careers, and we love helping them when we can. But sometimes artists offer to buy ads if we will run an article about them. We always turn them down. That is the kind of line in the sand I’m talking about.


It’s not illegal, or even immoral, to sell ads in exchange for articles. A lot of magazines do it and are quite open about it. We’ve simply decided that our readers won’t trust our content as much if they believe someone might be featured who isn’t otherwise strong enough as an artist or who paid us to be there. It’s a choice we’ve made to maintain our credibility, and we’ve walked away from a lot of money because of it. It’s not easy, but for us, that’s the line we won’t cross.


As an artist, you also have choices you have to make that are not about what is illegal or immoral in themselves, but that will be very personal for you.


The best example I can think of concerns painting what sells.


Your gallery owner calls you and says, “Those little red barns you painted sold better than anything else you’ve painted. Can you send us more little red barns?”


If you’re sick of painting little red barns, or they don’t inspire you anymore, you’re then faced with whether or not you draw a line in the sand.


Will you paint more barns because they help the gallery?

Will you paint more barns because more paintings sold means establishing more collectors?

Will you paint more barns because selling more is validation that people like your work?

Will you paint more barns because you need the money?

Will you refuse to paint more barns?


Where is the line?


One friend who is a brilliant landscape painter and who was selling well decided she was sick of landscapes, so she started painting buildings and figures instead. Her gallery mounted a show, and nothing, I repeat nothing, in the show sold except the few remaining landscapes. Her career took a dive. She had branded herself as a landscape painter and couldn’t escape it. Her line in the sand was between not making a living or going back to painting landscapes. She opted out of landscapes, continued on her new path, and endured a two-year dip in her career until her other paintings caught on. But she was happy she made the decision because her heart was no longer in landscapes.


I applaud anyone who follows their heart. But I would not have criticized this artist if she’d decided to go back to painting landscapes, if that was what she felt she had to do.


Early in my career I was a wedding photographer. I did so many weddings that I got sick of weddings and swore I’d never do another, even if I had to starve. My soul could not take even one more wedding. I dropped it cold turkey and found a job doing something else. I drew a line in the sand. I still avoid weddings to this day when I can, and if I do go, I refuse to bring a camera. But someone else may have decided to forge ahead, to keep supporting themselves or for other reasons. Neither decision is immoral or unethical.


What is your line in the sand?


In my blogs I write mostly about marketing and the value of building your name and your brand, and increasing awareness of your work. I teach techniques you can use to speed up your sales and your progress as an artist, and I’ve watched hundreds of people change their lives and see their dreams come true.


Still, some people view the very act of marketing as crass, or even wrong. Some feel they want nothing to do with the business aspects of painting. I even know artists who refuse to sell their artwork to willing buyers, because they don’t want to have their artistic purity challenged by the act of making a sale.


I think it’s important to understand that any of these decisions is perfectly acceptable.


It’s acceptable to market yourself and your art. It’s just as acceptable to wait, doing no marketing and hoping your work will be discovered and sell organically. It’s rare, but it does happen.


Most great artists who have accomplished some level of success are also brilliant marketers, though they handle it in such tasteful and subtle ways that it’s usually not recognized as marketing. Frankly, that’s the best way to market, if you can finesse the style. Other older, established artists did the bulk of their marketing long ago, when a lot of us weren’t around to see it, and we assume they never stooped so low as to self-market (or that they never needed to). Some were those rare cases who were genuinely discovered by collectors or a gallery, with no marketing at all.


Some are willing to market their careers and find it perfectly acceptable, while others won’t cross that line because they find it objectionable.

There is no right or wrong here. This is not an ethical issue. It’s a personal issue.


That is the most important take away: These are your decisions. If you need to paint more red barns to sell paintings so you can pay the rent, it’s not ethically wrong to do it (though it’s not a good idea to create the same painting again and again). If you still love painting red barns, so much the better — there is absolutely no reason not to paint something that satisfies you just because buyers want more of it.


Ultimately you have to search your soul for what works for you, what inspires you, and what is over the line for you.


I know a lot of famous artists who painted what their galleries wanted for a lot of years until their names and careers were established, and now they won’t do anything unless they want to do it. I know others who have always painted only what they want to paint. No one should judge you for the decision you make. As my dad always says, “You never know why someone does something until you’ve walked in their moccasins.”

Careers are delicate things. There is nothing that can overcome hard work, putting in the time to learn and grow and develop your career. But once that heavy lifting is done, that’s when you need to decide where you should draw your line in the sand.

By |2017-10-05T16:00:23-05:00September 28th, 2015|Ethics|21 Comments

How You Can Sell More Artwork by Becoming a Celebrity Artist



Artists are always asking me how to sell more artwork, how to get their prices up, and how to become more successful. Usually they assume that they will improve their income if they improve their painting skills, but after a certain point, that’s simply not true. It’s no more true than a great restaurant’s improving its recipes a little bit more and thinking that means it can raise prices and sell more food.  


I learned a critically important lesson at a young age, when I started writing a column for the radio magazine I had just founded. I went from being a complete unknown to being somewhat well-known within a year, and each year, as my exposure grew, I saw my business grow in proportion to the awareness created. Then when I released my first book, awareness grew even more, expanding beyond the industry to some small level of consumer awareness because I’d been on national network TV and the Home Shopping Network for my book, and on hundreds of radio shows and in over 400 newspapers. It grew even further when the TV show Newsradio wrote an episode about me and my radio magazine (you can see it here). The more my perceived importance grew, the more my business grew.


If I were to ask most Americans to name a famous artist, they would probably say Monet or maybe Norman Rockwell, or even Thomas Kincade. If I asked them to name a famous living artist, I’m not sure what names I would hear. Unless they are tuned in to the art world like we are, they probably wouldn’t mention people we consider icons today. Those artists are famous within the circle of artists, but are not famous to most Americans.


Consumers are drawn to importance and celebrity, not necessarily because celebrities are better at a particular skill than someone else (other than PR). I still cannot tell you what Kim Kardashian is all about, but her fame is making her extremely wealthy. Money is drawn to celebrity and importance. People will wait in line to spend money at the restaurant of a celebrity chef like Wolfgang Puck, when the food next door may be equally good at half the price. It’s true of all things. Celebrity sells.


Most art dealers will tell you that sales in the art world are frequently driven by perceived importance. Either a consumer will visit a gallery because that gallery handles a name they already perceive as important, or they will be swayed to purchase based on statements like “This artist is hot.” “This artist is getting critical acclaim.” “This artist’s prices are soaring.”


Though most artists want to believe that quality will outshine brand name, that is very rarely true. Brands outsell non-brands. And brands are built by constant exposure over decades, usually intentionally and with non-stop advertising, but occasionally simply due to “showing up,” being frequently seen over a long period of time.


Importance and celebrity not only help sell artwork and increase pricing, they operate like a perpetual-motion machine. The more you are perceived as important, the more you sell and the more you’ll be invited to the right events. And, of course, the more that happens, the more your celebrity increases.


The process of branding is somewhat complicated, and there are a lot of elements to doing it well, but it is indeed a process, and it can be achieved through advertising and publicity. I’ve watched unknowns become well-knowns in a few short years because of it. Most collectors won’t think of what you’re doing as paid brand-building because in art magazines, the ads tend to be perceived as part of the content.


The strength of your sales and collectability are directly tied to the strength of your brand and your perceived importance or celebrity. Brand in art is really about trust (“Is it good?” “Is there critical acclaim?” “Do other collectors like it, and are they buying it?” “Are prices going up?” “Is it a good investment?”) Trust is built in branding much as it is built with new friends. It requires a lot of time together for people to come to know and trust someone new. The more you are seen, the more comfortable they become with you, and the more you gain their trust. That is the essence of celebrity-building.


There are four kinds of celebrity: local, niche (e.g., art collectors) national, and worldwide. For some, being the best-known artist in their town is enough to fuel their sales. For others, it’s about being nationally known, either by a niche group like art collectors or by all consumers — something that, of course, is harder and more expensive to achieve. And of course there is worldwide awareness as well. All are possible, based on the amount of effort you are willing to expend, but few artists become important without making an intentional effort. All the celebrities I know started with orchestrated PR efforts, advertising, and by doing something that got them a lot of attention fast. Stunts are a powerful way to get people talking about you. Do you think the feuds between Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell just happened? Probably not. It was invented by some great PR expert.

Consider what you can do to build your brand, your celebrity, and your importance. It rarely happens overnight, and it is a beast that dies if it’s not constantly fed. That’s why celebrities always want the press writing about them. Out of sight is out of mind. Building your perceived importance, and therefore your brand, will have a huge impact on your career.

By |2019-01-14T16:17:18-05:00September 17th, 2015|Branding|2 Comments

Six Tips to Get More Money For Your Paintings Without Hurting Sales


Pricing is the least understood facet of any business, but it’s one that can easily be fixed — without a negative impact. Most of the artists I know are underselling their art, struggling, having to paint too many paintings to keep their heads above water. They are on an exhausting treadmill because their prices are too low.

How would your life change if your prices were higher? If your immediate reaction is that you would sell less work, we need to work on your pricing strategy.

Most people in business get into business because they want to provide a good, quality service at a good price. They want to offer what they would want. Yet the number one reason for business failure is that profit margins are too low because of low prices.

Of course, low prices are necessary in some businesses because that’s their business model. Think Walmart. Yet the perception of Walmart’s prices and the reality are often two different things. Some companies promote low prices on high-volume items to get people into stores, yet other items may not be priced than you can find them elsewhere.

But as an artist, you’re not in the commodity business where, you produce lots of low-cost items. What you produce is a single, unique, handmade item by a well trained craftsperson — you. But do you think of yourself that way?

I can buy a chair for $20. I can buy a chair for $200. Or I can go into a craft gallery and buy a beautiful hand-crafted wooden chair for $1,500, knowing it’s one of a kind. That chair won’t be for the person who buys chairs at Walmart, but there is a market, and there is a special person who will buy it.

You Are Not Your Customer

One of the hardest things to overcome for anyone in business, including artists, is understanding your market and understanding that you are not your market. An artist once said to me, “I want to sell my paintings cheap so that people like me can afford to own them.” Though that’s admirable, people like him are not likely to want to own them. A painting is a luxury item, and the people who treat themselves to luxury items are not the average Joe. When I asked this painter how his sales were going, he told me they weren’t going well. He couldn’t understand it, because, as he said, “My prices are much lower than everyone else’s.”

Tip #1: Low-priced luxury items typically don’t sell to luxury buyers.

Let’s look for a moment at the typical art gallery visitor. Perhaps it’s a couple, and both are lawyers making a half million a year. Instead of owning a Jaguar and a Lexus, they could afford to own four or five Kias. Why don’t they buy them and save their money? That takes us to tip #2.

Tip #2: Price is a signal of perceived quality.

In my art marketing seminar, a man told the story of being at an art show. A woman asked, “How much is this painting?” He responded that it was $4,000, and she said she would “take it.” She handed him a check for $40,000. When he told her she had made a mistake and added an extra zero, she ripped up the check and said, “I don’t want it, then. It can’t be very good if it’s only $4,000.”

Tip #3: Certain people always want the best.

There is always an element of society who perceive themselves as needing the very best, and if it’s not the best — often signaled by the price — they won’t buy it. They don’t need bargains.

One of my mentors, Dan Kennedy, says that rich people have quirks. They will be cheap in one area and extravagant in others. For instance, he paid a million dollars to own a classic collectable car that had been owned by his favorite celebrity. He had no price resistance when told how much it cost — he didn’t even negotiate. He simply wrote a check. Yet he also said, “When I buy shirts, I hate the idea of paying more than $30, so I always buy my shirts at Walmart.”

So how do you get your prices up?

I have two theories.

Tip #4: Build a luxury image and brand, and reinforce it constantly with everything you do.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 12.31.37 PM

First, luxury selling is all about perception. A Louis Vuitton bag is not a purse, it’s a handbag. A large coffee at Starbucks is a venti, and it’s not served by a clerk, but a barista. These and other companies focus on selling image. My favorite Louis Vuitton ad (at the top of this blog post) doesn’t mention the company name. It’s all image. People buy image, and people want to reinforce self-image. People want others to see what they own. That’s why, when I visit some collectors, they’ll say, “Do you want to see my Mundy? Or my Schmid?” or their “Warhol or Hockney” or their “Sergeant or Zorn.”

Building your brand matters. Giving meaning to your name, ensuring your paintings are perceived as the best, is a critically important process. People will pay more for it.

Even in the lower price ranges, the person who buys a $1,500 painting is just as likely to buy a $3,000 painting. So if you’re in a gallery, giving up half your profit means doing without either $750 or $1,500. Which is better?

Let’s do the math.

Let’s say you sell 10 paintings a year at $1,500 each. Your total sales are $15,000, and your profit is $7,500.

Now, let’s say you raise your price to $3,000 and you lose 20% of your buyers, so you sell only eight paintings a year. Your total sales are $24,000 and your profit is $12,000. Which is better?

Let’s take it further. Raise your price to $4,000 and lose 30% of your buyers. Now you sell seven paintings a year, for a total of $28,000 and $14,000 in profit. You made double the profit of selling at the $1,500 price and you only had to paint seven paintings instead of 10.

The snowball effect also kicks in. First, your paintings get better because you can spend more time on them. Second, the gallery is making more money on you, so they push your paintings more. Third, because your prices are higher, you are perceived by the buyer as more valuable. Fourth, by painting less, you create scarcity, which actually boosts sales and prices. “Jane only paints seven paintings a year. You can own one of the seven” is a powerful statement, the kind galleries love to make.

Have Some Guts

I had dinner this year with a very famous artist who produces about four paintings a year and makes close to a quarter million a year from them. I asked how he got his prices up, and he told me that he had no idea what he should be charging for his paintings, so he just picked a number out of the air. He sold his first painting for $40,000 because he didn’t know he couldn’t. It only went up from there.

Most price resistance is in your head because you can’t afford to spend a lot of money on a painting. Your customer can. I have readers of Fine Art Connoisseur who don’t think twice about dropping 100 grand on a painting.

Tip #5: Go for it. Raise your prices. Be bold.

The way to get your prices up is to have some guts. And if you’re not raising your prices every year, you’re losing money because of inflation. Have you noticed how much more groceries cost?

Some galleries will give you resistance, and it’s the kiss of death if you have low prices at one gallery and high prices at another. So you have to notify your gallery of your universal price increase. If the gallery does not support you or believe they can get that price, it’s time to leave and find someone who thinks your new price is perfect. People cannot sell what they don’t believe in. Find believers.

Lipstick on a Pig?

I’ll end with a story a dealer once told me. He said he had a beautiful painting that sat in the gallery for a year, priced at $1,400. He could not understand why it was not selling, so he took it off the wall, put a $1,500 frame on it and raised the price to $14,000. It sold within a week. Same painting. Was it the frame or the price? I suspect it was both.

A painting in a cheap frame won’t be perceived as being worth much, but an elegant frame sends a signal. Who would you rather do business with? A financial adviser who drives up in a Hyundai, or one who drives up in a Bentley? It probably depends on your value system, but I’d pick the adviser who appears more successful. For people who use their cars in business, cars are like picture frames. If I’m selling a $10 million house, I want the agent in the most expensive car.

Price also impacted that sale. A painting is better if it’s more expensive — that is the perception of luxury buyers. The combination of great frame and great price cemented that deal.

Tip #6: Framing sends a signal to support your prices. Expensive frames allow you to increase even more.

In summary: You will lose some customers at a higher price, but you’ll make more money and work less. Build the importance of your brand with constant repetition over years and a luxury appearance. (A great trick is to put your high price in your ads, which instantly packages you as a more expensive artist. Again, this takes guts.)

I believe most artists could double their prices and not lose any customers. Your prices will rise. But it all starts with your understanding of pricing — and having the guts to do it.


By |2017-10-05T16:23:23-05:00July 22nd, 2015|Uncategorized|20 Comments

Double Down on Direct Mail

An Art Marketing Message from Eric Rhoads


A wise mentor once told me that “whenever someone declares something as dead, its probably a great time to embrace it.”

Experts long ago predicted the death of direct mail. These days when social media is so cheap, email so cheap. Why bother doing direct mail?

Simply because it works.

In fact at a direct marketing conference recently the experts were saying “it works better than it ever did because there is no one doing it anymore.”

As I have mentioned in the past, a smart marketer never has all their eggs in one basket. Things change. Things can go wrong. Once long ago I had a business which relied on email to sell a product, when suddenly there was an email problem, which took months to solve. Sales stopped. Had I had other sources of marketing going it would have not only prevented the loss of sales, it would have been working for me as well.

As an artist Direct mail to your “customer list” is a great tool. Printed oversized postcards with images of your artwork are terrific tools to announce new artworks. You can keep the front beautiful and unencumbered and place a selling message on the flip side.

A Great Direct Mail Trick

I once launched a direct mail campaign. My goal was to cement four ideas in the minds of my target customer, who were potential advertisers of my radio magazine. So I made up four postcards, one for each point. I mailed one postcard a week with a different message each week. But every 4th week they got the same post card again. I repeated this campaign knowing that they would receive each post card five times.

Not only did we receive no complaints, we noticed an uptick in our business related to those messages the more times those cards hit. Repetition works.

Direct mail experts will tell you to do a mailing, then repeat the exact mailing to the same list a week or two later. It improves results the second time and again the third time. It’s been tested.


In media there is a tendency to declare things as dead or outdated and be seduced by the new. Though there is nothing wrong with the new, my goal is to get my product sold or my message sold, so I’ll employ lots of different media alternatives to get that done. Today I get almost no direct mail from artists or galleries, but I do get a couple and they stand out, and I tend to read them or keep them if the images are nice. Its an open opportunity you should consider.

By |2015-07-17T10:21:16-05:00July 17th, 2015|Direct Marketing|3 Comments

Christmas In July: A Money Tree for Artists


Want to Make Some Christmas Sales This Month? This story gives you a step by step plan.

Santa on water skis? Yes, I admit to doing it. In the 1980s, I owned a radio station. I had just taken it over and needed to bring lots of attention to it. So I invented the “Summer Santa” promotion. I had learned that our news director played Santa at Christmas time to make a couple extra bucks. He already had a suit. He already had a belly full of jelly, a jovial laugh, and a Christmas-like spirit. It was an instant promotion, and it was easy. Spot the “Summer Santa,” recite a phrase about the station, and win a Christmas gift in July. We took “Santa” everywhere, including the lake where everyone was spending time on July 4th. And yes, he did actually water ski in the Santa suit. I know because I drove the boat. Have you ever seen a wet Santa? It’s quite a sight.


Eric, Are You Suggesting I Do a Christmas in July Promotion?

No, not exactly, though there are some elements you can employ to get attention.


Money Does Grow on Trees
Instead we’re going to do something really Christmas-like together. Money does grow on trees, and we’re going to plant a money-making Christmas tree in July. Are you in?


Everything in marketing starts with a seed. Plant a seed, nurture and water it, expose it to sunlight, watch it grow and blossom, and it grows money.


Getting Early Attention from Christmas Shoppers
What does everyone do around Christmas time? They sell like crazy, they promote like crazy, and it is darned near impossible to get anyone’s attention at Christmas to sell something. So we’re going to get them thinking about a Christmas gift in July, when they're not thinking about Christmas.


Now I’m presuming that you’ve already got a list of previous buyers. If you don’t, this won’t work.


A Step By Step Plan You Can Do This Week To Stimulate Business
Here is the move. Ready?


You write a Christmas letter. You can make up your own, or you can copy mine. You mail it out to your list and wait for the magic to happen.


Oh, and the critical thing is that you send it to the spouse or partner of your buyer. For instance, if the one was the one who loved and bought the painting, send the letter to the other. If they both bought the painting, send it to one of them. Note, I did not say e-mail this. I want you to use mail. E-mail is too easy to delete.


Step 1. Get a red mailing envelope. Put your name in the return address area. Put these words on one side of the envelope: My First Annual July Christmas Letter. Open immediately.


Step 2. Enclose a candy cane. It makes the envelope lumpy and creates curiosity. You may want to wrap the packaged candy cane in some foam or paper. People cannot opening resist a lumpy envelope.


Step 3. Get some Christmas letterhead. You can usually find it at a craft store like Michaels, or at an office supply store like Staples or Office Depot. It’s stationery with a Christmas theme.


Step 4. Write the letter (copy to follow). Make sure to have a strong headline. Sign the letter.


Step 5. Easy to Find Contact Information. Make sure you have put your mobile phone number and e-mail on the letter so they can find you.


Step 6. Enclose a photo of a recent painting you’ve done. Place information on the back: “Thought you’d like to see one of my recent paintings. This one is called NAME and might look great hanging in your home.” With your contact information. If they throw out the letter they might keep the image. Nothing but the image should be on the front.


Step 7. Put it all in the envelope.


Step 8. Lick it, seal it, stamp it.


Step 9. Mail it.


OK, here is the letter. You have my permission to use it or adapt it, copy it into your word processor, personalize it, and print it. My letter below is written as though it’s personalized to the wife, mentioning the husband. You need to adapt to the persons and titles you are sending it to. (Note this could be sent to corporations too).


Why on Earth Am I Sending You a Christmas Letter in July?
I Promise It Will Make Perfect Sense in About 20 Seconds

  • Your Name Here


Dear Jane,


While you’re enjoying this candy cane and remembering last Christmas, I want to give you an idea. Remember how stressful Christmas shopping can be? Sometimes it just robs the joy from the holiday, trying to find the perfect gift.

But I think I’ve found it for you: Me.

Well, not me, exactly. But my artwork.


Wait, before you crumple up this letter, here’s what I was thinking.


You once bought one of my paintings, and I remember that your husband loved it. For this Christmas, I can do a custom painting based on something your husband really loves … a special place, a special memory, or something meaningful to him. Since he already likes my art and my style, he’ll love a custom painting done just for him.


In fact, I daresay it may be the most memorable Christmas gift he ever receives.


Of course, the reason I’m contacting you in July is so we have time to put our heads together on the subject. I’ll do some sketches till I get it the way you want it, then I’ll begin the painting. And it will be ready for Christmas. (I also do birthdays and anniversaries.)


Here’s the catch.

Yes, there is always a catch. Paintings take a long time to paint and a long time to dry, which is why I’m contacting you in July. Hey, that rhymes. Santa would be proud.


The catch is that I can do only three custom paintings before Christmas. Once I book those three paintings, I probably won’t be able to do more. So if you like the idea, give me a call, tell me the size you’re thinking about, the scene, the colors, and I’ll quote you a price and give you time to think about it without feeling obligated.


Your husband will get the world’s most special Christmas gift, custom-painted for him. I hope you like the idea. And I promise I’ll keep it a secret.

I’ve enclosed a picture of a recent painting to remind you of my artwork. But I can paint anything you want, painted in my own style. Just call the number below and let’s talk turkey … well, Christmas turkey.


Merry Christmas … in July!


Artist Name

Contact information

PS: This is our little secret. I haven’t sent the same thing to your husband. Imagine how his eyes will light up when he sees a painting of something meaningful to him. Maybe his childhood home, the old farm, your favorite vacation spot, his Aunt Nellie. Anything. But if you like the idea, call, because I can do only three custom paintings for this Christmas, if I start soon.


-end letter-

Side Benefits to the Letter

Will this work? Absolutely. And if nothing else, you’ll get talked about, create attention, and get a chance to put a photo of a painting you’re trying to sell in front of a potential buyer. It will be a great image piece because of your creativity, and, yes, you should get a few orders. Be sure to get a deposit and explain terms of deposit so you don't work for free. The deposit will get you some of your money up-front and the rest you'll get when the paintings are done, usually way before Christmas.

Can you do more than three? Probably, but you want to create scarcity and time pressure. Plus, no one wants what everyone can have. This is special.


You’ll need to be ready for the call. Know your prices and sizes and be ready to e-mail the information when they call. Most important, get them talking about what scene they want painted. Get them imagining the excitement. Get them thinking about where it will hang and how the recipient will think of them every time they look at it. It’s an easy sale, and a great way to communicate that you do commissions. (Don’t use the word commissions, though; that’s an unknown insiders’ term to most people.)

Will you have the guts? Some of you will, and I think you’ll see great results. The best results will come from previous buyers, and the more recent, the better the response. Don’t be afraid to send out a few hundred of these. You can always paint more, and not everyone will bite, but I guarantee they’ll be talking about you.

Oh, one more thing. If you mail the exact same letter 2 weeks later you will increase response.


Merry Christmas from your Summer Santa friend, Eric Rhoads

By |2015-07-13T10:55:33-05:00July 13th, 2015|Direct Marketing|2 Comments

How Do I Know If My Ads Are Working?

An Art Marketing Message from Eric Rhoads




"Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don't know which half."

— John Wanamaker (1838-1922)

Founder, Wanamaker Department Stores

Advertising seems simple. Buy an ad, get results, right? Our lives are so filled with advertising, coming from so many directions, that we all feel fairly comfortable engaging in it ourselves. How difficult can it be? Especially for artists, who have strong graphic instincts, and many of whom have graphic design backgrounds. Some have even been doing work for advertising companies.


But when you are advertising, how do you know it's working? Sadly, the answer is not cut-and-dried.

Easily Trackable Results
In the direct marketing world (direct mail, direct e-mail, direct Internet), they test like crazy, comparing one piece of copy against another to see which sales letter or campaign worked best. They have industry standards for returns on "mailings" and are very disciplined about tracking sales as correlated with campaigns. In the direct marketing world, results are easy to track. You know what you purchased and when, and whether people purchased something after seeing it.


But as an artist, you're not selling widgets, gadgets, vitamins, videos, or books. If you were, the question would have an easy answer: Track results.


In the world of art, here is what you are selling:


  • A specific image that will have a narrow appeal to a small group of people

  • A brand name as an artist

  • A status item (in some cases based on the notoriety of the artist)

  • A piece of decoration for a home or office (sorry to be so crass as to bring it to the level of commodity)

  • A memory or a dream, something that represents an emotion to the viewer

  • The feelings stimulated by your painting

  • A solution to a problem (we need something to go over the couch)

  • A souvenir of a place visited

  • An investment or a hedge against inflation


Artists who advertise often think their primary goal is to sell a particular painting. And of course selling something is the fuel that keeps the business moving forward. Yet finding one single buyer to like and buy one single painting is a pretty narrow focus. Though you want to sell that painting, you really need to develop a deeper and wider vision.


The Importance of Trust-Building

Imagine you meet someone for the first time at a cocktail party. Twenty minutes later, that same person comes up to you and asks to borrow $500. Would you give it to them? Of course not. Why not? No trust has been built.


If, on the other hand, you get to know that person, see them frequently, and a few months later that same person asks to borrow $500, you might consider it.


In fact, if you know someone well, feel comfortable with them, have known them for years and they ask, you would probably not hesitate if you had the money.


This highlights the importance of building trust, which is a big part of what branding is all about.


When someone sees your work for the first time, they may like and respond to your art, yet not take action. Why? They don't know or trust you yet. Over time, the more they see you, the more evidence they see that supports their desire to buy your work, and the better chance you have of selling them.


It's the primary reason I'm so insistent on focusing on trust-building through branding.


Branding Is Not for Wimps

I was coaching an artist on her first advertising campaign. She said, "I'll buy an ad and see if it works, and if it works, I'll buy more."


I said, "How will you know if it works?"


She said, "If I sell this painting."


I said, "Respectfully, that won't work. Save your money. Though you might get lucky and sell it, no one has heard of you. You have to build trust, you have to build awareness, you need to create and maintain a brand. It won't happen overnight, and there is nothing you can do to make it happen faster because trust requires time."


I told her she needed a campaign that would build trust by advertising consistently to a single audience (mine or someone else's) and that she would not see much, or any, result for about a year.




That's a tough sell.


To her credit, this artist wanted to be successful so badly that she found a way to commit to an every-issue ad campaign.


I then told her this: "Though you might get lucky and sell the paintings you advertise, your primary goal needs to be trust-building — branding. And about six to nine months into this, I fully expect a phone call with you cancelling your advertising because it's not working. The reason I'm telling you this now is that at the point of your greatest fear and frustration, you'll be just starting to build momentum, even though you can't see it. When you get to that point, don't give in to the temptation to cancel. You'll lose the momentum, and if you come back later, you'll be starting over."


I said, "At about the one-year mark, you'll start seeing some activity. You'll start getting invited into shows. At about a year and a half, after consistent trust-building, you'll start being invited into galleries. You'll start seeing paintings sell, and your workshops will start selling out. At about two years, you'll hear from more galleries, sell more paintings, and you'll be invited to bigger shows and have a waiting list for your workshops. At three years, you'll see your prices double, you'll see the very best galleries seek you out, and there will be so much demand on your time you'll have to cut back on shows and workshops. And you'll be selling more paintings than you ever imagined possible."


Then I cautioned the artist, "At that point you'll be tempted to stop advertising because you'll start believing all the press clippings and think it is you making all this activity happen. And it is, but it's because you've become like a giant magnet, pulling people toward you with your marketing."


Sure enough, at the six-month mark, she called to cancel. I reminded her of what we'd discussed, and to her credit, she stayed in, based on faith.


At the nine-month mark, she started getting invited into shows and selling a few more paintings. At the 12-month mark, she started being contacted by galleries. It snowballed from there, and everything I predicted came true, almost exactly. (It's only because I've done this so long that it's that predictable.)

Trust-building — branding — is not for wimps. It takes courage and patience. Yet if you do it, and you keep it alive, you can become a major name in about three years' time, and within five to seven years become known as a master. Keep it alive for a decade or more, and you're an icon.


So How Do I Know It's Working?

As you can see, all this relies on momentum building quietly in the background, and it's hard to see it and measure that. Yet it's a powerful tool and is the very reason big brands hammer their name and message in the media, over and over, forever. There are always new people entering the market who don't know your brand, and the minute you stop, another brand takes your place.


You'll know it's working when you start seeing the activity level rise and other signals begin to show, about a year into a good campaign.


Critical Elements of a Marketing Campaign

All campaigns have critical elements. If those elements are out of balance or not fine-tuned correctly, the results will vary.


  1. Powerful Headlines
    Lots of research has been done on this topic. A headline is designed to pull someone into your ad. Without a strong headline, they won't stop and look; they will simply keep turning the page until a headline does get their attention. I recently attended a conference where a speaker said a change of headline can impact an ad's results by 700 percent — when the only thing that changed was the headline. (The same is true for a subject line in an e-mail.)

  2. Powerful Copy
    The copy in your ad, short or long, matters. Every word counts, and every word needs to help accomplish your goal. Most ads are weak and meaningless emote-y drivel. Ever hear these lines?

    1. The best quality

    2. The best service

    3. All your ___ needs

Your copy needs to cut through.
The problem for artists is that they primarily want to highlight their name with a big image of a painting. But it's hard to stand out by doing that alone. If you study who is getting lots of attention these days, you'll notice they are writing strong headlines for their ads.


3. Audience Saturation and Repetition

It's important to pick a single media outlet (a publication, a website, etc.) and dominate it as much as you can, with ads as large and as much frequency (repetition of ads) as possible. Most of us are tempted to move to other publications after a couple of ads to reach a new audience. But that's a giant mistake unless you can stay in the initial publication, add the other, and dominate in both. Few can afford to do that, so stick with the one outlet. It's time + repetition of message that builds trust, which builds your brand and your sales.


4. Audience Target
Contrary to what others would like you to believe, size does not matter. What matters is that you reach a relevant audience for what you're selling. Though you will get a bounce from advertising anywhere because you can gain customers from any audience, a relevant audience will speed your success. For instance, if you were selling gold, you'd want to reach people who can afford gold. Being in Investor's Business Daily or the Wall Street Journal will be better for that than People magazine, even though People has a bigger audience. In your case, you want to reach people who can afford what you sell, people who are known buyers of paintings.


5. Emotion

All decisions are emotional and only later supported by logic. Never forget this. If your ads don't have an emotional element to trigger strong feelings in your potential buyer, you'll reduce your success. (Of course, paintings themselves trigger emotions, so you have that to your advantage.)


6. Call to Action

Ads that don't ask for the order don't work. It seems simple, but most people simply include their contact information and never ask for the order. Research indicates that results will increase if you simply ask someone to pick up the phone and call to make a purchase.


7. Overcome Fears

Ads need to overcome the fears of a buyer. What fears do people have when they buy a painting? "Will it retain its value? What if I get it home and it looks bad with my couch? What if the gallery goes out of business?" The best way to overcome these and other fears is with a guarantee, such as: "If you decide for any reason the painting is not right for you, you have 60 days to return it for a full refund, no questions asked." Of course, everyone is afraid to do this, yet this one line will put some buyers over the edge and help them pick up the phone to call.


There is no one easy answer to "How do I know if my ads are working?" To some extent you have to trust that they are, after you've made sure the right elements are in your ads and the repetition and commitment are there.


Two Ads, Different Results

Most media works, or they wouldn't still be in business. Yet I can have two advertisers call me on the same day, and one will say their phone has not stopped ringing, their sales are strong, and they are getting amazing results. The other will tell me their ads are bombing — and they'll want to blame the publication for not having the audience. What's the difference?


It all boils down to the elements we discussed above. A great, well crafted ad, with the proper elements, and the proper frequency over long periods of time, is the difference. Badly crafted ads don't work.

Unfortunately, everyone tends to be in love with the ads they create. But most advertisers lack deep experience in creating great copy and the right elements for success. Then when their ads don't work, they want to blame someone other than themselves.


In closing, before you ever buy one drop of advertising, you need to ask what your primary goal for that advertising is. If you could accomplish just one big thing, what would it be? Once you understand that, it will make the message you craft crystal clear, and clarity is critical to make advertising successful.

By |2015-05-21T15:41:19-05:00May 21st, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments