Artist SEO blog

How to find serious art buyers

(This is the first video of a series, you can see the second video here https://artistseo.blog/ppc2-video/ )

Transcription, in case you’d prefer to read it:

Hi

As an artist marketer, one of the most common questions I get asked is “how can I get in front of serious buyers”? I’ll show you in this video.

The goal is .. if only you had steady sales from people who didn’t waste your time, you could spend more time on your art or even take a break now and then, maybe travel a little, see some creative friends and recharge your creative batteries.

So imagine for a minute what that would mean for you.

You probably have a collection of works that haven’t sold, stacked on top of the wardrobe and under the bed. That’s your time invested, it’s the materials you paid for sat around doing nothing. Maybe you can work down that backlog, sell some of those and clear some space in your head and your studio.

If you are the sort of artist who paints every day, finishes a painting every week and it’s a continuous process, this system will work great for you.

But, just as an aside, as a marketer and as a buyer, that puts me off a little bit. If I come to your studio and look at what you have for sale and I choose one but I’m familiar enough with your social media to know you are always painting, there’s always a new one, then I’m going to be slightly worried that I’ll pay my money, but I’ll like next week’s painting more. So I should wait. Always wait. Never actually buy. But OK, people paint for all sorts of reasons  and if it suits you, my sales system works just great as part of a regular routine like that.

But just so you know, I think a better way is what I’m calling the rockstar lifecycle.

The rockstars of old would write some songs, go into the studio to record them, come out with an album, do all the interviews and publicity, go on a world tour for a year or so, get completely knackered, come home and rest, possibly for quite some time until the energy and desire returns, the song ideas start to rise up. Often the next album could sound quite different to the previous album.

You can do that, as an artist. Don’t talk to anyone, get into the flow and create a body of work. Then you come out blinking into the light, you do the interviews, have the exhibition, hone your people skills, sell out (hopefully), celebrate and then you rest until the ideas start to flow again.

I keep emphasising celebration and rest and reward because it’s really important, it’s something I have to remember to do and I think many artists do too because I love my work, you love making art, what could be better than getting down to it? But we get into a rut. Creatively, we need to be able to see our work from the outside so that we can see how we need to develop. We need to give our subconscious space enough to come back to us with its amazing insights. If we work too hard we drown it out.

But crucially (marketing is all about the subconscious), if we don’t celebrate our wins, if you don’t take pleasure when you have a sellout show or just each time you sell a piece, your subconscious brain doesn’t get the pleasure feedback it needs to give you the right gut instincts that will lead you to success next time. The after sellout party and the rest, is reward for your success and it’s necessary brain training for you. It’s crucial.

Here’s how it ties back to serious buyers. What the rockstar lifecycle adds is the motivation of scarcity. If you create a body of work that’s finite .. 20/30 pieces perhaps. And basically that’s it. After that, you’re going to rest, change a few things, and the next work will be different. That means, thankfully, you don’t have to die to create scarcity. If a collector wants something from your blue period, they are going to have to get their act together and buy a piece right now before the collection sells out and before you move on.

You see how that’s more motivating for sales than oh, you’re in your blue period and we don’t know when it’ll stop because you paint every day? There could be hundreds, nobody knows.

Also, you know the grind of daily Instagram posts. “Oh”, they say “you have to post every day to social media.” I’m like, well this sounds like Zuckerberg’s the mill owner, and we’re down here on the factory floor doing all the work. It grinds my gears a little bit.

And anyway, do our serious buyers see our posts?

So escape that obligation, let’s be a little bit cleverer and create a system that does a lot of the work for us.

Now, I’ve been doing this for a long time. 40 years of marketing. I was in PR for twenty years so I know how to build a buzz. I’ve a first class degree in Internet Computing, and I’ve been a digital marketer for 20 years.

Thinking marketing for a second, just go with me here. Demand drives price. Or rather, price throttles demand. Practically for you, what if you got to the place where you are selling all your paintings? Sellout shows. I would say, raise your prices.

So you could get to the point where you are not working any harder, but your work is valued more, there’s more buzz around it, people who know what they want are seeking you out.

It gives you validation and that feels great. You’re being interviewed by magazines.

And demand begets demand. Higher class, more effective galleries want you. They see you’ve got your sales motivations all lined up and they know they can sell your art.

And that increasing interest is justified because you’re developing as an artist, you have trajectory and velocity, people can see your potential they can see where you’re going and that makes you an investment. Those time out moments, the travel, the meeting with other artist friends, it’s giving you a perspective on your work, and you’re not just doing the same thing over and over, at each turn of the rockstar lifecycle you’re newly fired up and ready to rock it out at a higher level.

So let’s talk about targeting, I said we would.

Let’s say you want to reach architects. Or people interested in art. People who read art business magazines in order to reach gallery owners.

You may know about the role of testing in marketing. For example, you could send an ad to each of those three groups and see what sales you make and go with the one that works best. Nice, easy. The equivalent of old-school ads where you get a budget and you place ads in different magazines to see which works best, keep that, ditch the rest.

But here’s something a little more exciting. You can target architects who also have an interest in art and who also enjoy motivational psychology for instance, if you paint uplifting art.

What about people who have just moved home AND who like horses AND have a good income?

What about nature lovers in Norfolk who are in a buying mood?

And what if you only paid for these ads when these serious buyers visited your website? Even better, what if you only paid when they joined your mailing list?

Let me show you the targeting.

(break to screen demo)

Now, if you’ve never placed ads like this before, don’t worry I’m here to show you how, and what I propose is just one approach. I’m not going to be teaching you everything about advertising. I just want to show you one, step by step process with some handholding. If you use Facebook, you can do this. It’s the approach I use myself.

And you can relax about writing ad copy. We’re not creating a multimillion dollar SuperBowl ad. The best social media ads are just like normal social media posts, so if you can do that, you’ll be totally fine.

And you can take off that straightjacket too, you know .. presentation face, posh telephone voice. I want you to be your best self. Yourself, only a little bit more so. You don’t want to appeal to everyone, the point is to attract the people who will like you, and leave everyone else to someone else. The point is to sift out those who will really will love you, love your approach, love your art. You only need those people, so give them something to hook on to, don’t hide what makes you interesting. For example, there’s a marketing .. I don’t know what they’re called now, we used to say ‘guru’. Anyway, she’s from the Manchester area I think, so straight away that works for me. We’re connected northern Brits. When I really fell for her style was when she picked her teeth. Seriously. She was talking about how her business was on track to make a million pounds this year, sat in her front room, and a delivery driver came to the front door and so she peeked out of the window, noted her partner was getting it, drew the curtains a little and said “these curtains were £50 from Dunelm”. And later, she literally picked something out of her teeth while she was talking. For me, and granted it doesn’t sound great, for me it represented her absolute confidence in her solution, and it blew away completely the idea that we have to present perfection to the camera. So long as we are talking our buyer’s language and so long as we are solving their problems, authenticity trumps any polish. So .. you can just be yourself, do it all on an iphone, that’s great.

So we’ve covered a lot here so let’s just summarise. In order to get more out of your art practice, whether you want more money or to be less busy or to have more impact I’m showing you the key elements of a marketing system. It’s going to take a little setting up, but once you’re through that, it’ll work and keep on working for you. You can just add it to what you are doing, but I am suggesting the rockstar lifecycle so that you train your brain to guide you towards success so making the right decisions becomes like following what feels right and good, it gives you successful hunches. And it makes you more attractive to galleries because they can see your marketing is good. And quite simply the scarcity will motivate sales.

I’m saying maybe having to post every day to Instagram takes you away from artistic flow so maybe you can escape some of that. And I’ve shown you how you can triangulate on key, serious buyers. They’re out there right now, and you can reach them.

Now, reaching your buyers, that’s only part of the system. You may even know about the targeting thing, you’re all “yeah yeah”. But what’s the most cost effective way to reach your serious buyers without being all sales sleazy and horrid? Just wait until you see the next video, it’s a lifechanger.

Alright so .. what do you think? I don’t want to be doing this in an echo chamber. Does this sound exciting? Is there anything that’s holding you back? What’s the most interesting thing so far? Drop me a message, send me questions, either in comments or direct to me at hello@artistseo.blog and I’ll try to address them in the next video.

Until the next time, stay safe, sell art.

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