The Empty Building: What You May Be Missing as an Artist

Minutes from my home, in a very popular part of town, I’ve watched a new office building go up as I pass when driving our kids to and from school each day. Now, after months of construction, the building is ready and available for tenants. The sign went up long before the building was finished, and yet today, months after it’s been finished, it sits empty.

Keep in mind that Austin is booming, companies are leasing space like crazy, and all the neighboring buildings are full.

So what’s the problem? And what does this have to do with marketing art?

Several weeks ago when looking for space for a new studio to shoot art instruction films for Streamline Art Video, I decided this would be a great building to lease part of the space. So I decided to call. But driving by the building, I couldn’t read the phone number. My vision isn’t perfect, but it’s not that bad. So I had to drive into the lot, get close, and copy down the number. That’s mistake number one. Designers tend to go for beauty over practicality. Make sure you understand the distance when someone is viewing your ads, website, etc. For instance, on the phone most websites look bad, but they look good on a computer screen. Problem is that 80 percent of all Internet use is on the phone.

The Phone Call

My call went like this…

“XYZ Properties, can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m interested in the building on 123 Street. Can you tell me something about it?”

“Hold, please.”

Ring … Ring … Ring … Ring… “Hi, this is Bob from XYZ Properties. Please leave a message.”

“Bob, my name is Eric and I’m interested in renting your building at 123 Street. Please phone me — I am ready to move in as quickly as possible.”

Bob never called. Not an hour later. Not a day later. Not a month or now, even two months later.

Oh, I may have missed his call. It’s possible it’s in my phone somewhere. But I looked and I didn’t see it there, nor did I see any additional missed calls.

Now perhaps Bob has a deal and has the whole place rented and decided there is no reason to call. Yet there it sits, two months later, with no cars outside and the “Now Leasing” sign still up.

If Bob does have it rented, a call to me is still important because … you should always return calls. Even if you think there is no reason to. What if I wanted to hire the company to manage my real estate? What if they had a space in another building that was perfect for me? What if I wanted to buy their company? What if I wanted to reach Bob to offer him a job? Sometimes the message left is a smokescreen for the real reason behind a call.

The second reason it’s important to return calls? Now his company has a bad reputation in my eyes.

The even bigger issue, and what I suspect is the truth, is that Bob is lazy. Maybe he never heard my message. Maybe he forgot to call. Or maybe he just hasn’t gotten around to it.

In the sales business, we call people like me a “hot lead.” I was interested at that moment. Fact is, I found another building and have since moved in. I’m no longer a hot lead.

How does this apply to art?

Let’s say someone sends you a note, or calls you, and you don’t know why they got in touch. They want to get a birthday painting for their spouse, but they don’t say that because they don’t want to be sold. But 24 hours pass, and you haven’t called back yet because you are busy. Or maybe you left a message and they didn’t call back, and you didn’t try again.

Finally, when you do reach them, you find out the birthday-gift need was that day, last-minute. And you not only lost a sale, you lost a customer for life.

Now you may be thinking, “I don’t want to be too aggressive,” “I don’t want to appear desperate or needy,” or just, “They will call back.” But what if they lost your number? What if they’ve got busy and have been tied up, and forgot to call you back?

When someone calls you, they are giving you permission to reach them, even if you have to call more than once. Your message might simply be, “Your call is important. I want to make sure I follow up with you.” But at least call once.

The key is to call back as quickly as humanly possible. Make them feel important. If you don’t reach them, call a couple more times at least. If you can find them on LinkedIn or Facebook, send them a message.

You never know what is on someone’s mind. Always follow up as fast as possible.

We are living in an e-mail and texting culture, and there is a generation of people who don’t use phones to call, but only text. If this is the case, the text and e-mail information should be on the sign. (Always provide multiple options to reach you on EVERYTHING you do.)

My guess is that Bob is lazy and the building will sit empty till Bob’s boss find someone else to fill it.


PS: I’m doing a weekly blog called Sunday Coffee, where I talk about art, life and just stuff that interests me. You can subscribe or read it at

By | 2018-02-28T15:20:01+00:00 February 28th, 2018|Business, Sales|0 Comments

Tattoo This Inside Your Eyelids!

Recently, I was in the market for a product. Once the salesperson got me on the phone, this is what I heard: “Mr. Rhoads, this is the best product on the market, light years ahead of our competition. I can get it for you at a really good price right now. In fact, I can take 20 percent off the top.”

Here’s what went through my head as he spoke:
Salesperson: “Mr. Rhoads…”
My thoughts: I hate to be called Mr. Rhoads: It drives a wedge between us, making the salesperson seem alien.
Salesperson: “This is the best product on the market…”
My thoughts: Says who? Prove it. More important, I want the product that will work for ME. I will determine who has the best product. He’ll say it’s the best, but I can’t believe him: He’s the one selling it.
Salesperson: “Light years ahead of our competition…”
My thoughts: I didn’t know there was another company. I wonder who the competition is? I’ll trick him into telling me their names, then I’ll call them. If this guy feels compelled to mention the competition, he must be losing sales to them. There must be a reason.
Salesperson: “I can get you a really good price right now…”
My thoughts: I was willing to pay the price on the website, and he’s dropping it already. They must be overpriced. I’d better check the competition. Buying one right away from this company would obviously be a mistake.
Salesperson: “I can take 20 percent off the top.”
My thoughts: Something is really wrong here. If he starts with 20 percent, I can probably get 60 percent off, or more. Now that I know he can drop the price, I’ll keep saying no and see how far it comes down.

I called this guy’s competition without mentioning the first company. The competition’s salesperson immediately asked about my needs. She probed, asked questions, established value for her product, and finally got to pricing. When she stated the price, I gasped. (I was trained to do that, weren’t you?) She didn’t flinch or defend, so I asked, “Can you do better on the price?” I tried a couple more times in a couple different ways, but I ended up buying the product at full price. I was happy about the price from the beginning, but I always ask for a better price.

You probably have battle scars from tough clients who beat you up on price. It’s just plain stupid, however, to give in quickly or — heaven forbid — offer deals before establishing value and need. My friend Dave Gifford once told me, “Never, Ever Offer Price Before Value Is Established.” You should tattoo these words inside your eyelids.

Don’t assume your client knows about your competitors. Mentioning your competition only invites your customer to play you against the competition.

If you sell on price from the start, you’ve already lost the game. Word gets around. Get the rate. Be firm. Be willing to walk away. If your customer is haggling on price, 1) you’ve not established value, 2) you’ve failed to fulfill a need, or 3) they’re ready to buy and just fishing for a lower price.

Price is not the most important thing. It’s what’s going on in your customer’s head. Learn their thoughts; then watch your close rate skyrocket.

11/24/03  Radio Ink Magazine. By B.Eric Rhoads

By | 2005-02-04T02:56:38+00:00 February 4th, 2005|Sales|1 Comment