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Branding Your Cow

The Importance of Branding in the Sale of Art Moos of panic filled the dusty air as cowboys pressed the hot branding iron against the flesh of the cattle out West. This painful exercise, branding, served the purpose of marking ownership of the cow. But the mark on the cow was less important than the reputation of the rancher. For instance, cattle rustlers knew which farmers would overlook the loss of an occasional cow and which were so tough they would hang cattle thieves on sight. Rustlers would avoid stealing cattle with certain brands. The behavior of the rancher became the meaning of the brand.If you're marketing art, you've probably heard a lot about branding, and you may be wondering how it relates to you. We know companies like Apple, Coke, and McDonald's have the most recognizable brands, but those brands also have meaning. For instance, the McDonald's brand means consistent quality and fast service.Think about the meaning of each of these brands.Harley-Davidson: Loud, thunderous mufflers, radical, non-conformingApple: InnovationLouis Vuitton: EleganceWalmart: Lowest pricesTarget: Low prices with styleSmart marketers seek to define a brand and make everything they do a relentless reinforcement of that image. Once established, a brand never, ever changes.If I were to ask art collectors for the names of the most successful artists who command the highest prices, I would hear the same names, over and [...]

Hurt or Help? What You’re Doing Online Can Impact Your Brand as an Artist

Branding is really nothing more than the process of building trust, then building upon that trust to reinforce the unique things you offer as an artist, such as your unique style; your voice; your acceptance by others, such as collectors; and your price and value perception. Everything you do contributes to your brand, in a positive or a negative way. Facebook and Instagram can be great tools for building credibility as part of your branding, and many artists are relying on them heavily. One artist even told me he no longer needs to advertise because he has so many followers. But that's just his ego getting in the way: When I asked exactly who was following him, it was clear they were peers -- other artists -- and few if any collectors. People tend to gather with like-minded people, so artists tend to follow artists. Collector groups are much more difficult to find, and are more likely to be found on LinkedIn, which tends to attract professionals and serious interest groups, than on Facebook. One giant mistake I'm seeing on Facebook is "Hey, look at me!" syndrome. I suppose if your followers are fellow artists, there is little harm in that. But if there are any collectors watching -- directly, or indirectly, via other artists' followings -- it can be dangerous. I'm seeing many an artist posting everything they [...]

Two Roads For Artists: Which Direction Will You Take?

The great debate among those of us who make art is whether we are selling out when we strive to make a living. For some, complete purity is a must. An artist, they say, must never allow outside influences to affect his or her art. It's a very romantic concept. I know of an artist who lived this life. Let's call him James. Never in his life did James sell a painting -- he only worked ON his art. I was contacted and shown his work by a friend of his, and his work was amazing. He had a body of work of hundreds and hundreds of paintings and had determined it was time to sell them. Up till then he felt his work was not ready, and he never want to be influenced by something so crass as a commercial gallery. James' goal was to sell his entire collection to a museum, showing the progression of his work from a young age to his mid-60s. As I inquired about his life, I learned he supported himself with a job he despised, one requiring hard labor. Most of his life was devoted to this go-nowhere job, and now that he was near retirement, the thought of selling paintings may have actually been motivated by the need for money and the need to downsize for storage. I passed on [...]

When Advertising Is A Bad Idea

Ten Reasons Not To Advertise My clients are often surprised when I tell them not to advertise. Since I own a few magazines, they assume selling them advertising is my only interest. Not every client is ready to advertise, and others may not be a fit for certain magazines or websites, including my own. It depends entirely on their needs and goals.  No one would ever trust me or my people if the solutions we proposed always led back to our magazines. Here are 10 reasons you should not advertise. Ten Reasons Not To Advertise 1. You Don't Know What You're Trying To AccomplishFrequently a meeting with a gallery or artist will reveal that they need to improve their business, but they don't have a specific strategy. They often approach us about advertising with nothing more in mind than "I'm not sure of my goals, I just want to sell more." Though that's a starting point, it's never good to advertise until you have a deep, specific strategy. We can help you work on a strategy, but you must have that in place before you do anything else, or you may waste money and hurt your reputation. 2. You Don't Know Who You're Trying To ReachIt's hard to hit a target when you don't know what it is. It's important to understand where most of your existing customers come from and [...]

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Artists: How to Build an E-mail List in 2021

Artists and craftspeople should consider the value of building an e-mail list. When you can e-mail people, you have your own medium that allows you to contact them as much or as little as you wish. (Once they have opted in.)  E-mail is an excellent way to grow your business, sell more paintings, and deepen your customer relationships.  Not sure HOW to build an e-mail list? In this article I’ll share lots of ideas and methods that can work for you. Keep reading, and I’ll make it simple to understand and do.  Why, exactly, should you consider building an e-mail list? Well, if you were suddenly stripped of all your Facebook, Instagram, and social media accounts, what would you do? What if all the websites and advertising vehicles, like art magazines, disappeared? What then? Though this is unlikely to happen, we’ve seen artists make a simple mistake (like posting a nude painting) and have their Facebook accounts cancelled. All it takes sometimes is one complaint, and you’ve lost years of accumulated followers. Starting from scratch and getting those followers back may not be possible.  Therefore I believe your e-mail list is so valuable that you should guard it with your life. Make sure it's never shared and never lost. And, of course, your list must be treated with respect. Your e-mail list may be the most important thing [...]

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