From my inbox:
How does one connect to the buyer agents of high-end customers? How does one get into the loop of being looked at? Performing artists have auditions and can wind up on American Idol, etc. It seems that the rest of us struggle every which way to get out there. Other than having all the necessary qualifications and Internet exposure, how do we get into that select group of artists and designers that is being considered by high-end buyers?
That’s a $10million question, isn’t it? It’s what everyone wants to know. My short answer is “persistence,” but let’s dig deeper. When people ask me a question like this, here’s what I want to know:
- How long have you been promoting your art?
- How many people are on your mailing list, and how have you been using it?
- How much time do you spend on marketing each week?
- Who created and is maintaining your website?
Their responses will tell me a lot, and then I can suggest steps for more fruitful results. In the absence of the answers to those questions here (and in the absence of any American Idol for Visual Artists), these are the three steps I would take to attract high-end buyers.
1. Network everywhere.
You have to meet new people–more and more new people. You should be out networking not only with people who are potential buyers but also with people who know potential buyers. These might be other artists (yes, artists know potential buyers), but they could also be people who hang out at your usual haunts: museum lectures, group meetings (especially if you have a niche), church and school functions, political rallies, and the like. Meeting new people means expanding beyond your comfort zone. You never know where you’ll run into someone who could become very important for you in the future.
2. Work your contact list!
It doesn’t do any good to meet new people if you’re not going to stay in touch with them. I’ve said it a gazillion times. Connections are critical to your success. How often are you reconnecting with the people you know? The most alarming weakness in most artists’ marketing is not using their contact lists to maintain personal relationships. Make sure everyone you know is aware of your art and who your potential buyers are. When your connections come across a good match, they’ll think of you first.
3. Get a website evaluation.
One thing stood out for me in the above email message: the phrase “Internet exposure.” You can’t just have a website. You have to work that site through consistent blogging, Facebooking, Twittering, emails, and newsletters. You need a strong, well-constructed professional presence. Templates and blogging platforms make it easy for anyone to build their own sites. However, unless you know how to add <Title> and <h> tags (and lots of other stuff) correctly, your site might be ineffective. Ditto for copywriting skills. Words rule on the Web, but you have to know how to use them to your advantage.
FINAL WORD: If it sounds like I’m singing the same tune over and over again, I am! Outside of the major international art fairs that attract the world’s elite collectors, there’s no single place you can show up and be seen. There is no magic pill for attracting high-end buyers. What you need is true grit. It takes persistence and determination, which is why the life of an artist isn’t for everyone. Don’t try something once or twice—or even every so often—and think you’ve failed. In fact, don’t think of it as “trying” at all. As Yoda said, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” Do!