Last fall I was asked, by a national publication, to write an article about innovative marketing by art galleries in this economy. I said I couldn’t. I explained that I have yet to see galleries doing anything truly innovative, so it would be impossible for me to write such an article.
The truth is, artists are far more innovative with their marketing than galleries or museums are. Perhaps it’s because they aren’t constrained by institutional traditions. Nonetheless, galleries need to take note of what is possible. They need to watch how artists are promoting themselves.
Here are some ideas for galleries.
Make education a core mission.
Fact: Most of the US population does not have a visual education. They don’t know how to look at and appreciate art. Every museum professional knows this, which is why curators and educators create public education programs. They understand that the better people understand the art, the more likely they will grow into museum patrons. One could (and I’m doing it right now) translate this to the gallery world: The better people understand the art and how to look at it and talk about it, the more likely they are to be comfortable in the gallery and buy art.
Think more creatively when planning events.
I GUESS it’s kind of nice to know that we can count on having wine and cheese at an opening, but couldn’t you throw in a twist every so often? Every marketing guru in the world knows that new ideas=better ideas. In fact, most galleries know this. That’s why dealers spend a lot of energy trying to find new, young talent. Take a lesson from your own playbook and give us something new–and I don't mean JUST new art.
Read business publications about marketing, PR, networking, and building customer relations.
Art publications on these topics will show you the same tired ideas over and over again. The general business section at the book store will yield more fruit.
Try anything by Seth Godin.
Get thyself into social media. Fast!
Create profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. And write a thoughtful blog, would ya? I dare predict that most urban areas–outside of the largest cities–have a dearth of online intellectual dialog about art. A thoughtful gallery dealer could fill the void.
Check out gallerist Edward Winkleman’s blog to see what's possible.