The Fastest Painting Sale In History?

A Story about Art Marketing from Eric

friends will tell you I'm a fairly modest guy. I've learned to overcome
my shy nature because, to succeed in business, you have to learn to blow
your own horn once in a while. It's the hardest thing I've ever
learned, and I know it's tough for most artists as well.

here I go, blowing my own horn.

was flattered when Jim and Mark at Greenhouse Gallery asked me to
conduct an art marketing workshop at their gallery the day after their
Salon International dinner.

My Frantic Saturday Morning

drove home to Austin on Friday night and had to return to San Antonio
for the 2 p.m. seminar on Saturday. I was making last-minute changes to
the presentation when the phone rang. It was my artist buddy Anne Nelson
Sweat, who was planning to accompany me on the 80-minute drive. "If
we're going to be on time, you need to be here to pick me up in 15
minutes, " she said. I was still in jeans and sneakers. I spent another
20 minutes preparing the notes and rushed out the door to pick up Anne.

Driving Like A Madman

suddenly realized I hadn't had a bite to eat all day, but traffic was
bad and there wasn't even time for fast food. I was probably well over
the speed limit when Anne, who was looking on the GPS navigator on her
iPhone, shouted, "Quick! Turn here!" I swerved from the middle lane and
exited just as she announced, "Oops, wrong exit." Just as I was about to
get back on the highway, I noticed traffic had stopped. I made a quick
right and asked Anne to navigate us on back roads to avoid the traffic.
Countdown: 10 minutes. We were at least 15 minutes away according to the
GPS, and if we hadn't taken that turn we would have been an hour late.
With one of the gallery staff talking us through the back streets we,
walked in exactly at 2 o'clock. I never did eat.

Yes, I Get Butterflies

walked in the door with my shirt tail hanging out from my jeans.
Frankly, I was comfortable, it was Saturday, and why not? Yes, I had
butterflies as I saw the 50 artists in the room waiting for me to say
something meaningful. Though I've conducted hundreds of speeches and
seminars, it never goes without some angst – and this was more than
usual because my notes were still in disarray.

Please Don't Stop!

the end of the second hour, the artists asked me if I would keep going,
so I did until Mark from Greenhouse pointed to his watch. The opening
was about to begin. The seminar went three hours, and not one person got
up the entire time. They seemed to be engaged.

Two Paintings Sold Instantly – Like Magic

As I
said, blowing my own horn is hard, but I felt like a proud papa. During
my seminar, I taught a system for using stories to sell art. It's much
too complex and time-consuming to get into here and now, but about an
hour later, during the opening of the exhibit, one of the artists
approached me and said, "I followed your advice. A man was looking at my
painting, so I walked up and told him my story using the techniques you
outlined, and he instantly bought it." I remember the artist's face but
I don’t know her name. So if you're reading this, call me!

following week, I received an e-mail from another artist who had a
similar experience and sold his painting the same way.

Helping Buyers With Imagination

tell me that people need to interpret a painting to their own meaning. I
agree to an extent, but, because artists are creative types, they
assume everyone can do this. Some people have little imagination, and if
you can help them along with a well-crafted story (don't lie) that
isn’t boring, is fact-based but not fact-filled, and is written to help
people see themselves in the painting, you will sell more artwork. So
will your gallery. Are you using stories to sell art?

My Two-Day Art Marketing Seminar

the seminar I was asked if I'd be willing to do a two-day version for art galleries. The
answer is that nothing is planned, but if I get enough e-mails from
people willing to come to Austin for a paid seminar, I'll consider doing
it. My e-mail is
[email protected]. Please don't hit
reply, and PLEASE put GALLERY ART SEMINAR in the subject line. If at least 50
people who interested, I'll put together a class and let you know the
fee once I determine the cost to rent a venue for two days. Marketing
art is detailed and complicated for a lot of artists, but I think I can
make it easy for you.


By |2010-04-23T13:33:18-04:00April 23rd, 2010|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Marketing Idea Gone Wrong


A message from Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine Publisher Eric Rhoads

through the mail, my wife, Laurie, discovered a postcard from a
chiropractor with a real Band-Aid stuck to it. It stopped her in her
tracks — enough to make her read it and save it. After all, we had
recently moved and knew we would be in need of a chiropractor.

weeks later, I heard Laurie screaming in agony. She had sprained her
back, and we began a search for the card with the Band-Aid. We couldn't
find the card, nor could we remember the doctor's name or location. A
quick Google search of our town + Chiropractor + Band-Aid didn't give
us an answer, nor did the Yellow Pages.

This chiropractor blew
Though the creative message (the Band-Aid) cut through the clutter,
there was no followup. Had this doctor sent more cards, three or four
weeks in a row, she would have gotten our business. Instead, we just
picked someone else at random.

Marketing requires repetition.
People lose things, they don't notice things, and they need reminders.
Plus, when we started looking for clues elsewhere, we couldn't find the
chiropractor with the Band-Aid.

Message Unity: How The Band-Aid Could Have Worked Better

idea of the Band-Aid on the card was effective enough to get us to stop
for an extra second to read the card while sorting the mail into the
trash. It was clever. But if this chiropractor had been extra savvy,
she would have done a few more things so the Band Aid was used in all
of her marketing efforts to reinforce her campaign:

1. More
mailings with Band-Aids
(repetition). I'd mail a Band-Aid-shaped
sticker with the phone number for future use and put messages in front
of the consumer several times.

2. Search terms and keywords, so if someone searched "Band-Aid + Chiropractor + our town," her page would have popped up.

3. A special website landing page showing the mailer and the Band-Aid and linked to vital information.

4. A Yellow Pages listing showing the Band-Aid. (Though I'm no longer big on Yellow Pages because Google has replaced them.)

5. A clever, memorable phone number. 1-888-Band-Aid might have been remembered if we couldn't find the card.

6. A small map on the card showing the location. This might have helped us remember where this doctor was.

7. A giant Band-Aid on the office sign so I could see it when driving by. (Galleries please no band-aids)

8. Band-Aids on everything you do (business cards, booths at the home
show, TV campaigns, etc.). The Band-Aid becomes her marketing message
at every touchpoint.

A great creative message was not enough.
Though it generated attention one time, it failed to get our business
when we were in the market. Marketing messages are erased with time,
which is why you need repetition and why your creative theme needs to
be carried into every touchpoint you make with customers.

most collectors, I receive postcards from dozens of galleries. They all
look alike, and most don't get my attention. And I rarely get a second
or third card (or e-mail) selling the same show. What can you do to
stand out, get noticed, and increase your frequency? It will pay
dividends in everything you do.

Eric Rhoads,
Fine Art Connoisseur



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By |2020-01-21T11:54:33-05:00February 12th, 2010|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Marketing A Gallery Is Like Football


A Message from Fine Art Connoisseur Publisher B. Eric Rhoads

Last week's Super Bowl hoopla reminds me of how is great marketing works like football.

does a quarterback run the field for a touchdown on the first play.
Though it can happen, coaches know that success is earned one play
after another, with a yard or two gained with each play. You wouldn't
bet on a football game if a team had only one play to win. But this is
exactly what inexperienced marketers do. They run one ad or do one
mailing and expect the phone to ring off the wall. Sure, it can happen.
But, like a lucky run, it's not the norm.

Why Advertising Fails

works as a series of plays, making a little progress at a time.
Campaigns with multiple impressions and touchpoints work best.
Campaigns are a series of plays designed to score several touchdowns
and win the game.

Advertising fails when marketers
run single ads instead of campaigns. As in football, momentum is gained
with consistent forward motion. Advertisers who start, stop, and start
again are losing momentum. You make the most progress when you hang on
to the ball.

Repetition Sells

matter what kind of advertising you are doing — print ads, e-mail
marketing, direct mail — you need lots of repetition. The average
person needs to "catch" the message three or more times before they
take action. And just because you send an e-mail or run an ad three
times doesn't mean someone caught your message three times. It can take
a lot of throws to get one completed pass.

live busy lives, and, to get their attention, repetition is critical.
Marketing pros understand this, which is why you see or hear many
commercials over and over again.

Throwing My Money Away

who run one single ad in the Super Bowl are usually disappointed in the
results, though it's a big ego booster. It's a great place to be seen,
but a message has to be reinforced over and over before people will
catch it.

I once ran a single ad in an
auction-house magazine, which was horribly expensive. Instinctively, I
knew we should have repeated the ad several times before expecting any
results, but we only ran it once. For us, it was like that Super Bowl
ad, which is all about ego. Foolishly, I blew thousands of dollars and
received no results.

The greatest marketers are like
the teams that make it to the Super Bowl. There are many disciplines
they follow, and that's what makes them great. I have coached thousands
of advertisers in my career, and, if the message is well crafted, those
who follow the model of consistent repetition always win big. Are you
expecting a touchdown with your first play? Or are you in it to win the

Eric Rhoads,
Fine Art Connoisseur


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By |2010-02-12T15:20:58-05:00February 12th, 2010|Uncategorized|5 Comments

Selling More Art at Fine Art Fairs


A message from Eric
Rhoads, Publisher of Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine

Did you ever wonder
why one dealer has a crowd hovering around their show stand much of the time
while other dealers seem to be passed by? Or why one dealer always seems to
sell more artwork?

What can you do to get your unfair share of customers from
your art fair investment?

What can you do to stimulate more sales following an art show?

Most dealers’ strategy is merely “showing up.” Yet following
this course is placing 100% of your faith in the show’s ability to deliver and
is still no guarantee that customers will visit your stand and buy from you.

Capturing The Customers

Show promoters want their fair to appear successful and
therefore the halls are often stocked with “lookers” who have no ability to
buy. Only a fraction of those in attendance are actually potential customers
with money to spend. Since there is not
enough money in the hall to fill the coffers of every dealer your role is to
make sure you get your unfair share of business


The Value of Brand

“Yeah, Eric, but that gallery has been in business for 30
years, has better art and is bound to get more traffic,” you might say. No
doubt, but what I’m really hearing is “people are more aware of that gallery.” Time-in-business
is the best tool for awareness yet we have all seen dealers with longevity who
are no longer considered relevant. We have also seen new dealers rise to
stardom rapidly.  Fair visitors flock first to brands, which
they know. 
Therefore the first rule of show success is keeping
brand awareness high.
This is not a single event but a series of events
ongoing over time. Smart dealers understand that keeping their name visible
continuously is critical, and hyper important for the six months leading up to
a show. Branding is a process not a single event.

How Brands Are Like Money

If your money is not growing at a certain rate of interest you’re
it is actually loosing value. Like money brands need to be in a continual state
of growth. Dealers who rely on their
established branding who are not reaching new customers are loosing brand
As new people enter the art market they have no brand loyalty and
awareness. I was recently asked who would be a good dealer from which to purchase
a John Singer Sergeant painting. The buyer was completely unaware of all of the
established blue chip dealers others would naturally think to call. Many dealers assume they are known and have
stopped their branding efforts or only focus on their existing database of
In their advertising they tend to reach the same markets over
and over instead of talking to new markets and casting a wider net to people who
may be reading different publications and websites. Branding to new audiences is critical for keeping a brand alive. New
art buyers are entering the market every day and they may not know who you are.


Invitations and

Beyond having a strong brand, which helps people to
naturally gravitate to your stand, it’s
critical to invite people in advance to visit you
. Most dealers do this by
sending free tickets to the show to their database by email or mail. Typically
invitations are not reaching those NOT on your database, therefore your pre-show advertising should mention
upcoming shows and highlight works to be on display in the show so you reach
new buyers not on your list.


Personal Invitations
and Incentives

Personalizing invitations strengthens the possibility of a
visit.  A personal note or a personal phone call to help the customer make your
stand a destination on their “short list” will increase visitation.  Incentives almost assure visits.
dealer sent key potential customers a beautiful Cross pencil with the
customer’s name engraved on it. In the note it said, “ Please stop by our booth
to pick up the matching pen.” His booth was jammed. The small investment in $100
pen sets to 50 key customers gave him an almost 100% visitation from these
customers. Incentives can be powerful. Even affluent people like something for
free if it’s of quality.


Opportunity Thrown

At the Palm Beach Show last week I saw a stack of the
dealers beautiful hardbound catalogues sitting on the exterior of a dealer’s
booth for anyone to take. Not only will those books end up in the hands of a
lot of “Lookers” who won’t be buying; it is opportunity wasted. A book or free gift (even wrapped candy) sitting
in plain view inside the stand will
draw people inside the booth rather than a quick walk-by
. This not only
exposes them to the artwork inside, it usually results in the customer asking,
“May I have one of your books?”, which is the perfect time to ENGAGE the person
in a dialogue. A response as simple as, “Yes you may have a book, are you
seeing anything in the show of interest?” can lead to a discussion like “Are you
looking for any particular artist?” or “What do you collect?” Dialogue of
course leads to meeting a new potential client, getting their name or business
card to ad to your data base, and can potentially lead to a sale. Your secondary goal should be to find ways
to gather names of collectors to ad to your database.
A visible guest book
is helpful too, however ideally it should have a place for specific questions
to not only gather contact and email information, but “check your areas of
interest to you”, or “what do you collect?”


Capturing a Sale
After the Buyer Has Left

Though you may be thinking the person who just left your
stand is seriously interested in an artwork you’ve discussed; the moment you
say goodbye you may have lost that potential sale forever.  Unless yours was the last stand visited your potential buyer
may fall in love with and buy something else after leaving your booth, even if
they intended to return. Also visitors
suffers input overload. They see so much art that they cannot remember what
they saw and where they saw it.


Here are some tactics
to increase your chances of a sale after the buyer has left your booth:



Your logo needs to be on your booth in plain view. At the recent Palm Beach
show all dealers had a same sign over their booth with their name. It did not
have their logo, their colors and their identity. Some dealers made sure their
identity and logo were tastefully emblazoned on the walls of their booth. This
is important because booths all run together in the memory. Logos are more
memorable and will be recognized as you follow up.


Memory of the Art They Liked:

I guarantee people visited your stand,
looked at a painting, saw the price and were interested yet never spoke to
Having an easily picked up card with the artwork and info on the
card near the painting acts as a reminder. Of course your logo and contact
information is on the card, including your cell phone number with the line “if
you see something in the show, which you cannot stop thinking about, here is my
cell phone number. Please call and we will put the piece on reserve and or
deliver it to you for review.” This will act as an after show reminder.

to Follow Up:

In instances where there was a serious discussion and business cards traded
remember that all business cards tend to run together and we easily forget whom
we met and what we discussed. Ideally you should write on the back of your card
the name and artist of painting discussed, and if possible staple it to a card
about the piece, and circle or write your cell phone number. Then say to the
individual, “I’ve put my cell phone here so you can reach me if you decide
you’re interested in this painting before the show is over. We will happily
bring it to your home for review.” Also instead of asking “May I phone you to
follow up” ask “When should I phone to follow up with you?” This gives you
permission to follow up and lets you know if the buyer is truly interested.

Fades with Time:

Most sales take place after a show. Trade
show experts say that rapid follow up is the most important thing you can do to
make a sale.
Because most exhibitors don’t return to their place of
business for a few days following a show and get bogged down in playing
catch-up upon return; follow up calls to potential customers often don’t occur
for a few weeks. Experts will tell you that interest begins to fade the moment
they leave the show and that if the
prospect discussion takes place within three days of when you met there is higher
probability of closing a sale
. Follow up within the first week is critical
and after two weeks most interest is lost. Since the average seller reaches the
buyer within three weeks follow up is less effective and your investment in the
show is wasted opportunity. Phone calls are more effective than emails, which
of course are easily deleated.

5.    Rekindling Interest:

If someone was truly in love with a
painting you can rekindle interest by emailing or mailing an image of the
painting within 48 hours of meeting the prospect. It’s better still to try and
get the actual painting to their home for review in their environment. But how do you rekindle interest to the
hundreds of potential buyers that were in your booth whose name you did not
Make sure you cast a wide net by scheduling advertising in magazines,
which mail soon after the show. For people thinking, “Where did I see that
painting?” your logo alone may remind them of their visit to your booth. An
advertisement showing images of paintings featured in your stand will act as
powerful reminders. Of course this advertising also gives you the benefit of
continual branding and an opportunity to reach the thousands who did not attend
the show.

Though these show strategies are routine to many dealers it
explains why their booths are often the most well attended and why they make an
unfair share of the sales. By following these simple procedures you can
increase your show sales significantly.


By |2020-01-21T11:53:30-05:00February 10th, 2010|Uncategorized|0 Comments

What Do Your Customers Care About?

Peg the Needle on the Relevance Meter If You Want to See Results


I liked this so well I am reposting it from

Ads are often written under the assumption that we can get people to
care about things they don’t really care about. But this approach
rarely succeeds.

Traditional ad-think says:

1.    Target the right people
2.    Leverage the right media (visual media for visual products, etc.)
3.    Use creativity in delivering your message.

But nontraditional ad-think gets far better results:

1.    What you say matters most of all.
Speak to a felt need. Good advertising isn’t about the product or the
company that sells it. Good ads explain how the customer’s life will be
Don’t say, “Dr. Bill Dipweasel was voted gentlest dentist in Saginaw County.”
Say, “Get your teeth fixed. You’ll be more attractive and your confidence will skyrocket. People will treat you differently.”

2.    How you say it is critical. Clarity is more
important than creativity. Talk like people. People don’t say, “I’ve
elected to have cosmetic dentistry.” They say, “I’ve decided to get my
teeth fixed.” (Dr. Bill Dipweasel will give you push-back on this
because he doesn’t think “get your teeth fixed” sounds professional.
Also, he wants the ad to be about him.)

3.    Deliver your message using whatever media offers the best psychological environment. In what moments would a candidate for cosmetic dentistry be most open to the message we crafted about being treated differently?

Advertising works best when it speaks to what
customers already care about. This is called “speaking to a felt need.”
I've never met anyone that's had a secret, unmet desire to go to the
dentist. But tens of millions of us secretly wish we were more
attractive, more confident, and that people treated us differently.

Good ads aren’t about the company that’s
paying for the ad. Good ads are about the reader, the listener, the
viewer of the ad. This is especially true when writing classified ads
for employment.

A man attending a class at Wizard Academy
confessed that, working part time, he had made more than $850,000 in
employee placement fees as the direct result of a single chapter he had
read in my second book. I congratulated him on having had the
perception to recognize the potential in that chapter.

Last week I received an email about that same chapter in my second book from William, an Acadgrad living in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Dear Roy,

I received an email from my business partner (Thatcher) earlier today,
telling me that we had found the perfect applicant for an opening we
have in our company. I crafted the job ad based on one of your chapters
in the second Wizard of Ads book.

This is what I replied to him: "She's perfect. The Wizard of Ads is a
genius, and this girl is just what we want, don't you think? I mention
the Wizard because I used an article of his on writing job ads for that
one. He said the person we were looking for would recognise themselves
in the ad, and we wouldn't be swamped with tedious junky
mass-applications. And indeed that's what happened."

So thank you, Roy, for all your amazing free advice; I have yet to meet
this girl, but judging by the application, I think she should fit in

Eternally gratefully yours,


That chapter, by the way, is called "Writing Classified Ads for Employment."  It's chapter 76 in a 101-chapter book called Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.

Here's an example of the strange type of classified ad that always gets superior results.

William, I'm glad you found the perfect employee. I look forward to your next visit to Austin.


Roy H. Williams

By |2009-11-09T14:51:45-05:00November 9th, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Destroy a Fifth-Generation Gallery: A story of near tragedy

From Eric Rhoads, Publisher of Fine Art Connoisseur

Family Tree_640

was a fifth-generation gallery owner. (His name has been changed to
avoid embarrassment, but if you've been around the gallery business
you'll probably recognize this story.) Robert's great-grandfather
became an art dealer by accident: When his wealthy friends saw his
personal art collection, they began craving paintings from the artists
hanging on his walls. Because of his friendship with the artists, he
was able to broker paintings for the artists to the patrons. Over time,
he realized there was a business to be built, so he started buying up
all the paintings he could find from the best painters. Robert was very
choosy about the artists he represented and very protective of his
reputation with his wealthy customers, many of whom started out as

Advice for the Next Generation
Robert's son (Robert II) came of age and completed his education, he
was given large sums of cash and sent to Europe to befriend artists and
purchase paintings. The collection continued to grow. Robert II
eventually took over the business. His father's advice to him was this:
"If people believe you're successful, your business will grow. Always
choose the best neighborhoods and offer the finest art and framing; and
even when times are soft, your customers must never feel that your
business is suffering. You must always appear more successful than
others." Robert II transferred this wisdom to Robert III, who passed it
on to Robert IV. The business is now in the hands of Robert V.

say that it takes one generation to build wealth and three generations
to lose it, but the gallery continued to prosper though the Great
Depression, through the war years, and through various recessions.
Though the business fell on some hard times, it was never hit as badly
as others – all because of Robert I's advice to always appear

Closing the Gallery
after five generations, Robert V is faced with closing the gallery.
When the economy got soft, Robert got soft as well. He retained
expenses and employees that he did not need in the downturn. Though
they may have been difficult to make, such cuts would not have been
noticed by Robert's wealthy customers. Instead, Robert believed his
customers would follow him anywhere, so he terminated his lease in a
prominent neighborhood that they had been in for decades, downsized,
and moved to the outer limits of the neighborhood. The space was
smaller and less elegant, and it sent a negative message to his

Robert V had also been doing several openings a year.
The events were always well attended, with elegant catering and a
"who's who" attendance list in the lavishly decorated building. But
when he cut back on the openings, the catering, and the opulent
surroundings, people began to talk and stopped attending his affairs.
Robert believed their lack of attendance was simply due to the economy.

Ignoring Grandfather's Advice
V continued to ignore the advice of his grandfather. After decades of
keeping the gallery's name on the forefront of success by placing
multiple full-page ads in all the art magazines, Robert V cut back on
the number of ads he ran. Later, as things got tighter, he reduced the
size of the ads – and then stopped advertising altogether. He
rationalized that "They've known us for over 100 years. If we lay low
for a while, no one will notice." Robert virtually disappeared in the
eyes of the art magazine readers; he believed that people would
randomly check his website from time to time, forgetting that there was
nothing prompting customers to visit the site. Business worsened and,
still, he blamed the economy. His regular customers were not calling or
coming in. "They must be visiting the website and just not seeing
anything they need," he thought.

Ending Five Generations of Art Selling
were getting grim. His ancestors had assured him that when business had
been tight in previous economic downturns, the wealthy still had money
to spend on paintings. But this time there was no evidence of that.
Robert was forced to take his kids out of private school, cancel his
club memberships, and place his exclusive apartment up for sale. These
moves created rumors that he was in trouble, and no one likes to do
business with a company in trouble. He tried to sell the business but
was told that it had lost its prominence and had no value. Fearing the
end of five generations of success and thinking he would soon have to
get a job working for a competitor, he became depressed and frightened.
How would he face the shame?

A Wise Voice of Experience
day, Robert had a conversation with an elderly man who had been one of
his father's employees. The man was long retired after 40 years with
the firm. When Robert shared his woes, this employee told him some
things he never knew. "Your father and grandfather went though this.
There were times when we did not know if we were going to keep the
doors open. We were not paying our bills and were getting deeper in
debt with our vendors. We had to lay off most of the staff and cut back
on every possible expense. But what got us though was the advice
created by your great-great-grandfather, the founder of the business:
'You must always appear more successful than others.’"
The wise
man continued, "Though we could not afford to do it, we managed to keep
our gallery space. No one ever knew this, but your grandfather even did
the cleaning after hours because he could not afford help. He continued
to throw the most lavish parties – which he could not afford – but
those parties almost always resulted in a couple of sales, which bought
us more time. He continued his presence in the art magazines and art
shows because he knew people would assume that he was thriving while
other galleries were suffering. It worked. Though it was difficult, we
ended up making sales we never would have made otherwise. A benefit we
did not expect was that, because our competitors were not advertising,
we started to see their customers come in the door. When things got
better, our business grew more than it ever had because people
perceived us to be stronger and more important. Meanwhile, many of our
competitors disappeared because they didn't keep their name in front of
customers, who eventually came to us because we were visible and looked

Taking a Risk to Stay in Business
got the message. He decided that if his business was going to go
bankrupt, he would go down in flames trying everything to prevent it.
The old gallery space had not been re-leased, so he negotiated a better
deal to get back in. He began throwing lavish parties again, and his
customers returned. He started advertising again, which brought in more
customers over time. By following his great-great-grandfather's
advice – "You must always appear more successful than others" — he
managed to start selling enough paintings to survive. Though his
apartment is still for sale, his kids are in public school, and he made
some tough choices and cut some key employees, his business is on the
road to survival. When things get better, he will be more profitable
than ever.

A Historic Perspective
When I heard this story, it reminded me of an article I read recently in the New Yorker
about how Kellogg's became a leading brand during the Great Depression
because its biggest competitor failed to appear more successful than
others. When Post stopped advertising, its customers shifted to the
company that increased its advertising. That made Kellogg's a leading
brand, which has continued for decades.

Lessons Learned from This Story
There is always someone with money to spend – but if they feel you're
in trouble, they won't do business with you. Many galleries are getting
through these difficult times because they have always chased highly
affluent customers. We're hearing stories daily of galleries that are
still selling artworks to these customers. Though they may be buying
less and expecting bargains, they are providing survival cash flow.

Appearances are important in some businesses. Evidence of downsizing,
cuts in advertising, size of ads, cheap food and wine at events (or no
events at all) send subtle signals to your customers that you are in
trouble. Though customers understand people are in trouble in this
economy, it's a mistake to make them think it's happening to you.

Spend money where it will benefit you most and cut where it’s not as
critical. I have a gallery customer who terminated two employees he
could live without, put the money into increasing his advertising, and
actually earned enough from increased sales to rehire the employees.

Don't assume they will remember you. We assume customers know us and
think of us all the time, but they need reminders. Advertising not only
reassures them that you're still strong, it keeps your name in front of
people and encourages them to call, visit, or visit your website. If
you disappear from visibility, they are not reminded of your presence.
If your competitors remain visible, they will take your customers.

these strategies are not easy to implement when there is no cash flow,
it's critical to keep your face in front of customers who have money to

Did You Know:

– A Fine Art Connoisseur
customer responding to an ad recently made a multi-million-dollar
purchase from one of our advertisers? I'd be happy to inform you of
specific details by phone.

– Fine Art
Connoisseur has over 300 BILLIONAIRE readers and over 1,500 of
America's wealthiest millionaires, penta-millionaires, and

– Welcome to recent new advertisers, including:
– American Legacy Fine Arts, Los Angeles
– Fine Art Dealers Association
– Godel & Co. Fine Art, New York
– Hammer Galleries, New York
– Howard/Mandville, Kirkland, WA
– InSight Gallery Fredericksburg, TX
– International Fine Print Dealers Association
– Medici Portraits
– Questroyal Fine Art, New York
– Quidley & Company, Boston
– Royal Gallery, Providence, RI
– Schiller & Bodo, New York
– Trees Place, Cape Cod
– VOSE Galleries, Boston

Yours truly,

Eric Rhoads
[email protected] 
Summer (Adirondacks): 518.327.5000

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PS: Our fall issue will have bonus distribution at numerous shows. Keep
your gallery visible during the fall season. Deadline for booking: July

e-mail me with the subject line "Eric, I'm interested," and I'll have
someone follow up with you. Or call me at 518.327.5000.

By |2009-07-23T17:51:47-04:00July 23rd, 2009|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why Shelf Life Matters to the Subconscious Mind


powerful advertising options exist today, which include websites and
email marketing, twitter/facebook/myspace/friendfeed, etc. Though these
are effective tools for branding and immediacy, we must not forget that
all advertising is not rooted in immediacy.

Many galleries desire instant gratification. They want their
ad to sell a painting right away. You cannot blame them for thinking
this way, yet decades of evidence prove that most advertising does not
generate immediate results unless a foundation of awareness has been
built in advance. In other words an advertiser who has been
consistently advertising will usually have better success pushing
something for an instant sale than an advertiser with whom the audience
is not aware.

Imagine that someone you have
known for years calls you and asks you to do a favor. You know and
trust this person (or not) and can easily make a decision based on
their request and your level of trust. On the other hand, a stranger
rings your door bell, introduces herself and asks for the same favor.
You have no "history" with that person and therefore your defenses
trigger fears. Its no different in advertising. If you do a good job of
marketing you build trust over time by your mere presence. If they
don't know you the viewer may ask themselves questions like Do I know
this gallery? Can I trust them? Is their quality consistent? Are others
collecting them? Do they have a good or bad reputation? Can they be trusted? These and other
questions often trigger an unconscious "I'll keep an eye on them" response. Therefore
more they see you the more they trust you. In contrast a gallery with whom the viewer is comfortable  will have already overcome
those objections creating fewer barriers to a sale.

This is why
instant gratification is not always possible. Advertising is a process
of building trust over and over again with the same audience. (Moving
ads elsewhere is starting over with a different audience). Online advertising
can be very effective at keeping your name visible and of course it
allows click-through to view your site, which also is a step in the
process of building trust. But, an ad expecting instant results on or
off line is less effective until trust is built.

There is a lot
of noise about how print is a thing of the past and I believe this to
be true for many forms of print, especially where news in involved, yet
evidence tells us that "shelter" and "leisure" magazines readership are
as strong as ever. And it is these leisure/shelter magazines which tend
to be kept for future reference. I keep every issue of Architectural
Digests on coffee tables around our home and as a result I may find myself
flipping through current or old copies multiple times. These multiple
impressions benefit the advertisers, who don't get a frequency of one
impression but probably get a frequency of five or seven. It is this
frequency that implants messages into your subconscious mind.

Ever find yourself flipping through magazines thinking "where did I see that ad." It happens all the time. In fact my magazine Fine Art Connoisseur
just heard from an advertiser who made a multi-million dollar sale this
past April from an ad that had run exactly one year earlier and not
since then. Probably the person thinking "where did I see that ad"
rummaged through past issues hoping to find it (probably in several
magazines not remembering which one ran the ad.) This is also why we
encourage frequency so that you're there when the reader decides they
want to find you. We frequently get calls from readers like this: "You
ran an ad for a gallery about three years ago. I can't get that
painting out of my head and I can't find the ad. It had deep greens and
blues in the ocean. Can you tell me where to find the gallery? I think
I'd recognize the name if you told me."

I often suggest that galleries run two images in every ad… a big one of the highlighted
painting and a small image of painting featured in the last ad as a
reminder (even if sold). I'd also place all my ads on my website so
customers could access past paintings for sale.

Understanding the power of frequency, shelf life, and trust building can go a long way in making advertising a success. These things trigger the subconscious mind, which is not always focused on immediacy.

Eric Rhoads
Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine

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By |2009-06-01T23:49:52-04:00June 1st, 2009|Uncategorized|6 Comments

7 Ideas for Galleries to Increase Summer Art Sales


To help your gallery sell more artwork this summer, I've
put together
these 7 ideas.

Remember the Basics:
Because we are all
very close to our businesses, we assume people know what we do, who
we are, and what is featured in our galleries — but this is simply
not true. Though you should continue to "work" your customer
list, also develop a strategy to attract new faces and new customers.
People are moving all the time, and out-of-towners are visiting.Your
outreach program should tell your story in fresh ways that will bring
in the new people and reinvigorate those who have not been in for a
2. Traditions Can Become
Have you been doing
the same things year after year? Though tradition breeds comfort, it
also breeds complacency. Have people stopped attending your openings
or events because they have become too predictable? Shake things up.
Invite interesting people or VIPs to create buzz. Though a fresh artist
or a new show is often enough, it can't hurt to use a hot caterer, promote
a celebrity guest, or feature an intriguing speaker.
3. People Love to
Watch and Participate
People are fascinated
by watching sculptors and painters work. Set up guest artists weekly
and find ways to spread the word though the community. Host something
fresh every week or two throughout the summer. Consider running some
special family or kids events. Create local art programs outside the
gallery so parents can browse inside while kids are busy with outdoor
art lessons, coloring, or crafts.
4. Become a Destination
Locally and Nationally
Community calendars
and event and tourism guides are used by both locals and visitors. We
pick them up first thing when we arrive in the Adirondacks each summer.
It’s smart business to maintain visibility through ads, event notices,
calenders, etc.

Also don't forget the advantage of a national audience.
Many galleries are part of a summer itinerary, and those who promote
nationally can become a destination for families looking for a place
to go. Look for national art destination guides — (for instance, we
have a guide to Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and the Hamptons
in the July/August issue of Fine Art Connoisseur. ) These are a
good place for your ads to prompt visitors to plan a visit. A national
strategy is equally important year round, because a collector can pick
up the phone or go to your website and buy without ever visiting.
5. Remember Retail Basics 
Though most galleries
shy away from being perceived as retail, there are many basics that
apply to any business.
• Create interesting
window displays and change them frequently. Make sure they are well
lit and inviting at night.
• Move displays around
frequently. People notice things when walls and paintings have been
moved. One gallery I visit every summer in the Adirondacks has not changed
in 20 years, and therefore I don't even walk into certain sections.
• New decor helps people
see your space differently.
• Make the environment
welcoming. Retailers know that music and scents stimulate buying. Many
people are intimidated by galleries, so a simple sign that says "Please
come in and browse" may sway those daunted passersby. A billionaire
once told me, "art galleries intimidate me, so I never go in unless
I already know the people."
• A plate of cookies
works wonders to stimulate sales in small retail locations. The enticing
aroma says people are welcome here and invites them to spend more time. Companies like ScentAir specialize in retail scents and can find ways to spread the smell outside to draw people in.

Watch your body language.
Retail researchers say a welcoming smile has a strong impact on sales.
Avoid crossed arms or standing guard. It drives people out the door. According to the book  Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
a smile actually triggers a desire to buy in the brain.

• Don't judge a book
by its cover. Billionaires can have long hair, unshaven faces, and sloppy
clothes, especially on vacation. Make everyone feel welcome.
6. Summer Loan Program
and Party Circuit
Invite affluent patrons
in and suggest they pick a painting to try for July — no obligation.
If they grow fond of it, they'll buy it. Local charity events are often
held in affluent homes, so more galleries are offering to hang art for
the event, which is an excellent way for large crowds to see your artwork.
Find a tasteful way to let them know who provided the art and that each
piece is available. Keep local decorators aware of your art while summer
homes are being redecorated or built (we suggest a luncheon or mixer for local decorators to get them into the gallery). 

Art Education Seminars and Events
Education is powerful.
Holding events in or out of the gallery — featuring experts, guest
lecturers, or seminars — is a powerful tool for creating deeper interest
in art. Promote an "Understanding Art" or "Art Basics"
course for beginners, hold sessions on specific historic or living artworks
or styles, or host forums with multiple experts. People love free, interesting
things to do. Each is an opportunity to build your brand, create publicity
(newspapers like "things to do" to print), get people in your
doors, and spur interest in art. Use pieces that hang in your gallery
to develop discussions.
It never hurts to try something
new, and I hope these ideas stimulate your business this summer. The
most important basic of all is to remember that you won't catch any
fish if you don't put your line in the water. It’s important to stay
visible at all times. This article from the New Yorker is a good reminder about marketing in down economic times. Happy summer.
Eric Rhoads 
Fine Art Connoisseur 
[email protected] 
PS: We welcome these recent new advertisers
Vose Galleries
of Boston, Hammer Galleries, Questroyal
Fine Art
Godel & Company, Tree's Place, and the Fine Art Dealers Association (FADA)

to Fine Art Connoisseur . And thanks to our many advertisers who
continue with us!

Also, we just learned that an ad in our magazine
was directly responsible for a multi-million-dollar purchase by a billionaire
collector-reader recently
. I'd be happy to tell you more personally. 


By |2009-06-01T23:09:48-04:00June 1st, 2009|Uncategorized|18 Comments

The Story of a Business

This comes from our director of sales Jim Gustafson

At the corner of 52nd Street and Fifth in New York City, there is a gentleman named Vinnie who sells newspapers. From sun up until late at night, Vinnie has toiled on the corner for years. Each day he sells his newspapers. Over the years, he has come to know the names of his customers and they all know Vinnie. He has never missed a day of business. People count on Vinnie to be there with his papers. He has never let them down. His customers are loyal. They have always bought their newspapers from him. Being very busy all day long, Vinnie never has time to read the newspapers he sells.

A few weeks ago, the manager of Cartier's jewelry store, a regular customer, said, "Vinnie, watch your business. With all the lay-offs and closings on Wall Street, business is really going to slow down." Vinnie asked the Cartier's manager, "What are you going to do about?" She answered, " We're going to buy less jewelry, because we will be selling less jewelry." All day long, Vinnie thought about what Cartier's manager had said. When it came time to order papers for the next day, Vinnie decided he would be smart. He cut back on the number of papers he ordered.

The next day, in the middle of the afternoon rush, Vinnie ran out of papers. This had never happened before. Vinnie found he had nothing to do, so he read the paper.
He read about the lay-offs, the closings on Wall Street and the people out of work in New York city. He thought, "The Cartier manager is right, business is going to really slow down." That afternoon, Vinnie cut back even more on the number of papers he ordered. The next day he ran out of papers earlier. For the second day in a row, some of his customers had to go elsewhere to get their paper.

At the end of the month, Vinnie did his books. He saw that his business had really declined. Though he had bought less papers, he had sold less papers. He had  made less money.

Vinnie continued to read the papers. He read about the economy, the lay-offs, the people out of work. Vinnie could testify to the slow down in business. His newspaper sales were way down. He, too, was a victim of the bad economy…. "Tomorrow," though Vinnie, "I will order a few less papers. Business isn't getting any better."

A block away at 51st., Joe was selling papers. Unlike Vinnie, Joe always read the papers. He knew the economy was bad, Wall Street firms had closed, and people were out of work.  For some reason, Joe's business was growing. He was selling more papers. A few weeks ago, he actually ran out of papers, so he increased his order. In fact, Joe had to increase his order more than once, to be sure he didn't run out of papers. "I don't understand it," Joe thought, "but everyone is talking about bad business. My business is better than ever." Joe was enthused and happy. He greeted every customer with a smile. He began to learn their names. "Hi, I'm Joe," he would say. "Thanks for buying your paper from me." Joe's attitude was contagious. People walked away with a paper and smile….. His business is growing…He has many new customers.

What a great Country!

By |2008-11-03T17:36:38-05:00November 3rd, 2008|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Brand Building With Size

A couple of weeks ago a new gallery asked me what I would suggest they do to build their brand quickly. When I asked "who do you most want to be perceived like (competitor) and what do you want to be perceived as," the owner told me of a major gallery he hoped to model. He said that he hoped that in 10 or 20 years he would be considered as important. Of course I asked, "Do you have 20 years?" His answer was, "no, we have three years to make it or break it."

"What if I showed you a strategy to build your brand and prestige quickly and overcome the 20 years?" He was all ears.

I started out saying that nothing can overcome time and heritage, however branding is a gradual process which not only requires repetition and a powerful message (ad design, copy, headline, artwork). But I can help you leap several years forward with this strategy. Advertise frequently, advertise bigger than your targeted competitor, and advertise deeply (more places) but only if you can afford to dominate in each publication to get noticed.

I believe author, marketing expert and dear friend Roy Williams will tell you that the small sends a small message, big sends a big message, giant sends a giant message. People who want to be perceived as giants need to APPEAR as giants. Of course this is not always possible and many have to start small, build business gradually and build from there.

The first important principle of any advertising is FREQUENCY. Be there often. I would rather have 6 issues in a row of 1/2 pages than 1 or two full pages. Frequency builds brand.

Secondly, size sends a message. Not to diminish the smaller advertisers, but its a fact. An advertiser with a bigger ad presence seems like a bigger company. A half page advertiser looks more important that a quarter page advertiser (unless you blow it with poor design). A full page advertiser looks more important than a half page advertiser.

Pay close attention to the companies you know as big brands or those you perceive as "owning" a brand position. One advertiser I know of is perceived as the leader in the illustration category. It’s not unusual to see 4 or 6 pages in every issue from this advertiser. How can anyone appear bigger? It is not easy.

So, what did I recommend to the gallery owner to build his brand as big, important and speed the process? I recommended a 20 page spread of ads. You cannot NOT get noticed. Everyone will immediately be impressed, even the hard to impress people. You will stand out above all others and you will have a perception of being bold, of having a deep financial war chest, of being confident, and of being big. As long as the content of the ads support the message of quality. So, I recommend 20 pages every issue for a year, and if possible for two years. By the end of the second year, as long as the content and the product (quality of artwork offered) and follow through (customer service, personnel) match the projected quality, this gallery will own a top 10 position within 2 years. By following the normal course of action, which is a single page per issue, it would take 10 years or longer to build a solid presence and yet the perception of big would never occur to the same extent.

So, if being perceived as bigger and better is important, fake it till you make it. It works.

By |2007-10-18T00:30:01-04:00October 18th, 2007|Uncategorized|2 Comments
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