Explaining to someone why they should buy your art… the horrible feeling you may come across as “salesy”, pushy, or desperate. Do you recognise that? Unfortunately, your work doesn’t speak for itself. You need to learn how to explain your work and connect it to your audience in order to make the sales you want.
Guess what, running a creative business…is just like running any other business! That means, knowing your audience, and your ideal clients, and learning how to speak to them about your work. You need to be able to write and talk about your art in a way that allows potential buyers to recognise its value, to feel a connection with you and the work, and to realise they need it in their lives.
This is marketing.
Step 1. Know your audience
Who are your customers? Who are you targeting? Is it a specific age group, gender, type of lifestyle, etc? What are their interests? Outdoor life, city life, bright colours, human interest travel, etc.? The more you know about the people who follow you as an artist or maker, the easier it is to connect with them and sell to them. Think about a customer you loved selling to in the past, and what they like and why they were attracted to your work.
Where do they hang out?
Once you know your target audience, or ‘dream client’, you can start to brainstorm about where those particular people gather, both on and offline. This means you know where to share your information, and build up a connection with them. Choose those social media platforms where your potential customer hangs out. You don’t have to be on all of them. It is better to choose one, and do it well. If your audience are mainly older people, don’t put all your energy in creating funky Instagram Reels. But they may be on Facebook, or prefer a weekly email.
It is better to niche down, than to try and have “something for everyone”.
A vague message like this is confusing, people won’t know whether you have what they need or are looking for, and it is much harder to create a strong brand that people connect with. When you search for something in Google, do you click on the result that is most specific, or the one that has a very generic description? The more specific your offer, the better you can target your niche audience.
Step 2. Use storytelling in building that connection
Everybody enjoys a good story, so use these in your marketing! Stories are the ideal way to share the personal journey behind your work, how you made it, why you made it and what inspires you. Share photos of your environment, your studio, your creative process. Stop posting only photos of your work, thinking this will somehow keep the audience hooked. We want to know about you!
How engaging is a cold Facebook post of a photo of an artwork, with the caption: “Still life. 90 cm x 90 cm, mixed media. Price €395“? What am I suppose to do with that information?
Exactly. No wonder you get tumbleweed on your account sometimes. Time to jazz that up a bit! Stories are more engaging for your audience, which means they’ll be paying more attention. Tap into emotions, by talking about your life as an artist and connect on a deeper level with your audience. They will remember your story, which means they are more likely to remember your work. You want people to talk about your work to their friends, and spread word-of-mouth. Next time they need a gift or something for their home, they will probably check out what you have on offer.
Step 3. Focus on their needs, not yourself
Your work is about you and how you see the world. Your marketing, however, is all about your audience. Everything in your marketing needs to be focused on your client and what’s in it for them. OK, so you sell art. So what? Why should I care?
Learn about your audience, tap into their emotions and lifestyle, and build trust. Nurture your audience and connect with them through your stories and posts, but talk about the benefits of your work to their life, when you are trying to sell. If a piece makes them happy, convince them they will want to see this work every day in their own homes. If it is a scarf, a designer brooch, a vase or other usable art, you can talk about the benefits of high-end materials, unique and handmade products, personalised design, excellent customer service / fast delivery, etc.
In every phrase in your marketing, always ask yourself:”So what?”
Step 4. You are being helpful
I get it. All this marketing-speak is quite off-putting sometimes, and you don’t want to come across as pushy. You just hope someone will stumble upon your work, like it, and buy it. Here’s a trick for you: pretend like it is someone else’s work, and you’re recommending it to a friend. Detach yourself from it, as if you are recommending a good restaurant or film, and you’re listing all the reasons why your friend should check this out.
You are trying to be helpful here! Ignore that you’re going to make money off of the transaction and instead, try to connect it with that customer or client. When you recommend something to a friend, you’re not doing it for money, you’re doing it to help them experience something you thought was great.
Hey, and isn’t your work worth recommending anyway?
Step 5. Don’t forget that call-to-action
So often I come across a great Instagram feed, Facebook page or website of an artist whose work speaks to me….only to get frustrated by the fact that it’s me having to do all the hard work finding out how to freakin’ contact them. Make it easy for people to find the link to your shop, or you will lose them. Have a portfolio available, or an online shop with your work, listing as much detail as possible, if you want them to order online. You don’t want to raise more questions, so be clear and helpful! Make sure your links and call-to-action buttons are working on all your platforms.
If you want more sales, make buying a breeze.
PS: Don’t forget to collect email addresses on checkout, you will want to keep these people close to you. For recommendations, or repeat purchases.