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Chapter: Avenues of Marketing
Artist leagues and Organizations
There are many artist organizations that exist with the goal to connect artists, to assist them in their marketing and foster the networking of ideas. Membership is often very reasonable, and the perks can be many. Artists in the group are a valuable source of information. If you see the group as a place to exchange ideas, better still. The more you give, the more you will receive. Contribute any contacts or ideas you have, and you may be surprised at the volume of ideas and contacts that flow back to you. Local artist associations will also help you find out about public projects and grant applications that become available.
These associations are great places for networking. Much of it is done online now through email, forum boards and the like. I have found my favorite suppliers and contacts through just these types of groups.
And speaking of online groups, many of those are free. For instance, ebay has a large discussion forum for idea and information exchange. There is an entire community board dedicated to art and artists. You don’t have to be an ebay seller to read the discussions, though you will need to set up an account in order to post input of your own or ask a question. Most major associations with websites are moving towards social interactivity. If you are going to join a group, look for one that has an active online Forum or Community area, or at least an active Facebook page. And for myself, I tend not to join groups or organizations that do not offer the opportunity to be listed publicly on a membership list that includes an active website link for the member’s website.
Chambers of Commerce
Your local Chamber of Commerce may offer benefits you’d never even thought considered. While some Chambers are quite pricey and geared towards medium to large businesses, others have many membership options, including discounted artist/creative memberships. Give your local Chamber a call to see what they offer.
EXTRA TIP: Most cities and towns have smaller groups that meet for the soul purpose of marketing. Ask some of the small business owners you know if they go to any networking groups. The fees tend to be small, or nonexistent, and the people in these groups are often very active in helping others to network new services/products.
Advertising in Print
Display advertisements are ads which are sold by the size of space they require. Usually you can purchase a business card size ad, 1/4 page ad and so on. Display advertising varies greatly in price. The size and type of audience are primary factors in pricing the ads. Color vs. black/white is another factor. A 1/4 page color ad in a national magazine will cost much more than a 1/4 page black & white ad in a local newsletter.
Display ads can work wonders, if displayed to the right audience. So, you need to keep an eye out for publications and periodicals that relate to your work. A simple example would be home and gardening publications as targets for an artist who specializes in floral paintings.
I personally have not seen great returns from space ads, so I take particular care in deciding to use them. Repetition seems to be a factor here. So, if you are weighing a single printing against an ad that appears in several consecutive issues, go with the latter. As people see your ad more than once, it builds recognition and, consequently, business.
Classified Ads are the text-only advertisements that appear in the back of many newspapers, magazines and periodicals. While much less expensive than display advertising, the return is much lower as well. You may want to experiment with them, though most artists have found them to be a waste of time and money.
Advertising on the Web
Online advertising is predominantly geared towards website traffic. So, if you do not yet have a web presence, this section will not apply to you.
One of the most prevalent forms of online advertisement is the PPC, or Pay per Click. One of the most popular PPC programs is offered by Google and is called Google AdWords. When you use a search engine like Google to do an internet search for something, you will notice the list of search returns on the main part of the page. Off to the side of the page, usually on the right, is a smaller, more condensed list of advertisements that also correspond to your search terms. Those are PPC ads. The advertiser is charged a fee whenever a user clicks on his/her ad, thus the “Pay per Click.”
To use PPC, you have to set up an account with the provider, in this case Google. (Look for an “Advertise with Us” link or something similar on the main page.) You can then set up your own advertising campaign, which gives you a great deal of control over your budget, types of ads placed, etc. You decide on the keywords you want to target, the most money you will pay for a click, and the cap on your monthly or daily budget. What you are doing here is bidding on keyword combinations. The person who bids the highest amount per click and has the highest budget allowance has the greatest likelihood of a #1 or #2 position on a given PPC advertising list.
As Google AdWords has become very popular, it has also become more expensive. Clicks that once bid out at $.05-$.10 each are now approaching $1.00 each. The pricing depends upon your target market and how much competition there is for your selected key words. If you are in a “niche” market with little competition, your clicks will cost less. Competitors of Google AdWords are less expensive, one example Facebook Ads.
Another online advertising venue is Craig’s List, and it is free. The downside to “free” is that Craig’s List tends to generate a lot of spam and obnoxious scam email responses. When I advertise on Craig’s List, I never include an email link (this is an option when you place the ad.) I supply information about the work for sale, a few pictures, and an active website address where those who are truly interested can view my work and find my contact information. Most Craig’s List ads run for 30 days and then you have to renew them or replace them with new ones.
Did you miss the comments on keeping record of your customer contacts? I hope not, because email marketing is extremely powerful. If you keep a list of your customer’s emails, you can upload and “manage” this list through an Email Marketing Service like Constant Contact. Of course you can simply send emails out yourself in the beginning, though I would highly recommended checking into and actual Email Marketing Service. A service will make your emails much more professional looking through the use of templates, and also help you tracked bounced emails, unsubscribes, etc. Most email marketing services charge a small monthly fee, though you can get an email marketing service free if you have a Fine Art America store (a print-on-demand resource.)
Using email for marketing requires a bit more forethought than sending out your typical email correspondence. Some of the things you will want to include are links to your website, several images, and social media links if you have them. Again, an email marketing service makes all of this much easier. With a service you will have access to reports that tell you how many people opened your email, how may of your messages bounced, how many times individual links within the email were used, etc. You can even link videos to your emails!
While it is possible to draw in customers through a variety of web-based outlets like websites, blogs, social media, etc., you can’t beat the power of a direct email to customers. Examples of ways you could use the email marketing include announcements of: upcoming shows/exhibitions, awards & PR announcements, new artwork releases, teaching or demo events, etc.
Have you won an award lately? Created a new series of paintings that will be displayed somewhere? Achieved a special marker point in your career? These are among the many topics that provide great material for a press release. You can submit a press release to your local newspaper, guild newsletter, artist organization, related trade magazine, or other appropriate periodical. Writing a press release is simple (online guides for this are easy to locate) and submitting a press release is free. In most cases your press release will be printed as submitted, so make sure to advertise yourself well and use good grammar! Not all press releases are printed, but the prospect of free advertising is well worth the effort to submit.
Also mentioned in a later chapter on charity donations is the prospect of advertising in fundraiser programs and guides. If you donate artwork to the fundraising event, you may be eligible for free advertising space in the event’s program. Consider donating one-time reproduction rights for one of your best pieces to be used as the program cover. A nice credit line beneath your work is the best free press around.
Newsletters offer yet another venue for potential free press. If you are a member of a church, hobby group, condo association or any other entity that generates a newsletter, let the editor know about your artwork. Submit a press release if necessary. As a former newsletter editor and contributor, I can promise you that many newsletters welcome article submissions for use as content!