Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Art Marketing is Conversations by Clint Watson

Here is a reprint of an article written by Clint Watson -- which I receive as a subscription to the service at FineArtViews. I have reprinted his article and another one just below this post according to his instructions on "republish" an article. I copied them according to his instructions, but all the formatting did not translate into this blog post. I have gone back in and created links where he has them, so that it works as he intended. I think these two post are extremely important and hope you will read them through. Go to his site and subscribe. I think you would enjoy his and his guest authors' posts!

Art Marketing is Conversations by Clint Watson

Today's Post is by Clint Watson, founder of FineArtViews. Follow Clint on Twitter.

Since writing about Art Marketing for Artists Who Want to Change the World, I've had some more thoughts about art marketing: Art marketing is conversations.

Ignore your friendly magazine salesperson and/or marketing "guru" who tells you marketing is all about "branding:" "branding" is for sissies, branding is dead - MARKETING. IS. CONVERSATIONS. (Hint: If you're having conversations, you'll "automatically" develop a "brand").

Conversations are going to happen with or without your participation.

There's an old saying in advertising, "Tell your story, or someone else will tell it for you." But, if you don't participate in the process, the story that gets told may not be the one you want told.

Consider what Brian Clark, of Copyblogger wrote, "People tell stories about themselves. They even buy things in order to say something about themselves. They don’t give a hoot about your story unless it furthers their own personal narrative. If it does, your story comes along for the ride. If not… too bad for you. You’re not the star of this story. Smart marketers don’t even try to be the star. Smart marketers want to be indispensable supporting characters...People respond to marketing stories when they either identify with the hero, or desire to become the hero. Your story must put the prospect front and center as that hero."

This is another way of describing Hugh MacLeod's Blue Monster idea. People want to tell their OWN stories to each other and connect with each other. You just want to become part of that conversation and have your story.....your art, your artist story "come along for the ride."

Your followers are going to talk to each other and you want to be able to encourage that behavior. Helping them connect with one another is a good thing.

Hindering conversations is a bad thing. And this is where we turn to the subject of art galleries.

"Marketing is conversations" applies to you art galleries as well. I'm speaking to art galleries now. Art galleries listen - get this fact in your mind and accept it: Your clients ARE going to talk directly to your artists. Be part of the conversation or bury your head in the sand and ignore it (and be excluded). The Internet has changed the equation. This subject came up recently in my twitter stream and artist John T. Unger said, "Making the intro (of the collector to the artist) insures the gallery stays in the loop. NOT making the intro has more potential to hurt their sales." John's exactly right: If you introduce your clients to your artists, you're guaranteed to be part of the conversation. If you don't, you're guaranteed to be excluded. Which option do you want?

Art is all about communication. When a buyer purchases artwork, he/she is “purchasing” the artist as well as the artwork. The stronger the client-artist connection, the more likely the person will become an ongoing collector. The progressive art dealer realizes that instead of hindering these connections, he should foster and encourage them. Indeed, building relationships is the essence of the dealer’s job. Instead of hiding the artist’s web site, why not enthusiastically share it with clients and encourage them to visit it? Instead of blocking access to an artist, why not pick up the phone and introduce the prospect to that artist? Heck, why not even give the artist’s phone number to prospects? Each of these actions would make a sale more likely; after all, wouldn’t YOU feel special if you were invited to personally call the artist? Galleries and artists need to quit playing games and work together as a team and trust each other.

If I were an artist today, I wouldn't work with any gallery that tried to limit my freedom to have conversations directly with collectors online and offline. I also wouldn't work with any gallery that didn't agree to provide me with contact info of people who purchased my work so that I could strengthen my connection with my collector clan. To reciprocate, I would make sure that each of my galleries trusted me completely. I would NEVER, NEVER, EVER sell directly to collectors that discovered me through my galleries. I would NEVER sell my artwork for a price lower than what it would sell for in a gallery.

Now go change the world.

Sincerely, Clint Watson
Software Craftsman and Art Fanatic

PS - If you ever break trust with your galleries, realize that the story surrounding you may no longer be the one you want told. Remember conversations are going to happen with our without your participation.

This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by Canvoo, a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists, collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

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