42 Ways to Improve Marketing Results

If marketing is everything you do to build your reputation and sell your art, there are a lot of areas in which you could improve. In which we could all improve.

©Lynn Krawczyk, Printed (6). Textile, 18 x 18 inches. Used with permission.

©Lynn Krawczyk, Printed (6). Textile, 18 x 18 inches. Used with permission.

I share this list with some hesitation. It’s intended as a checklist to work through, not to tackle at once.

Remember, our businesses and careers are works in progress.

Your Name

1. Decide on a single professional artist name and use it consistently for your art business – if you want to be remembered. I don’t care what it is and it doesn’t have to be the same name you sign to your art.

It’s critical that people can easily find you by your name and associate your name with your art.

Networking

2. Meet more people! The more people you know, the more opportunities you will create.

3. Show other people you care about them. Focus on building trust and relationships rather than selling to everyone who crosses your path. Along similar lines …

4. Keep notes on people on their business cards and add to your database so you can personalize your relationships.

5. Send “It was nice to meet you” cards or emails after connecting with someone (unless it wasn’t nice to meet them and you don’t care if you ever see them again).

Branding & Image

6. Use the same font and colors for all of your marketing material. And please! Stay away from Comic Sans and Papyrus fonts.

©Barbara Chappelle, In High Places. Oil with cold wax on cradled wood panel, 16 x 16 x 1 1/2 inches. Used with permission.

©Barbara Chappelle, In High Places. Oil with cold wax on cradled wood panel, 16 x 16 x 1 1/2 inches. Used with permission.

7. Keep the focus on your art. Pare down the design and strip out the bright colors. All eyes should be on your art.

8. Market to your best prospects. The World is not your target market, so define your audience as narrowly as possible.

9. If you’re confused about your art, you’ll confuse people with your marketing. Make your brand as cohesive as possible, which means you had better know what your art is about.

Your Mailing List

10. Your mailing list has the potential to be your most valuable asset, so use it! Use it regularly. Your list is no good if you’re not using it.

11. Don’t rely on your current list. Keep adding names (re-read #1 above).

12. Send personal correspondence from time to time rather than relying on email blasts to everyone. People respond better when they know you care about them as individuals.

Address people by name in your correspondence and sign your name.

13. Use 1 business email address and phone number. It’s very confusing when you use multiple email addresses.

Bulk Email

14. Use an email delivery system like MailChimp or Vertical Response. Do not send bulk email from your regular email program. Hundreds of messages will look like spam to your Internet Service Provider.

©Marque Todd, Vixen with Halo. Oil and metal leaf on panel, 10 x 10 inches. Used with permission.

©Marque Todd, Vixen with Halo. Oil and metal leaf on panel, 10 x 10 inches. Used with permission.

15. Vary your subject lines. All emails look the same when you use the same words every time you send an email.

16. If you have something very important to share, such as an invitation to an event or a sale announcement, don’t bury it in a newsletter with multiple articles. Send a separate email that serves only one purpose: to encourage action.

17. Send email recipients to the specific page on your site that you want them to see rather than the home page. The home page is likely the most boring page on your site.

18. Never apologize for not sending a newsletter. No one noticed. (Sorry.)

Blogging

19. Never apologize for not posting to your blog. No one noticed. (Sorry.)

20. Add at least one image of your art with every blog post, unless, of course, you aren’t interested in people seeing it.

21. Don’t delay posting because you aim for perfection. Imperfect posts are far better than no posts at all. Besides, there’s no such thing as perfection.

It’s a process and a commitment. You didn’t hop out of the womb knowing how to make the art you do now, so why would you expect to write the perfect blog post out of the starting gate?

Website

22. Make sure your name is at the top of every page on your website.

23. Write a compelling story for your About page. Very few people will look at your résumé.

24. Double check to see that all of your images include a complete credit line. This means ©Your Name, Title of Artwork, media, and dimensions.

©Vickie Martin, Circle of 4th. Collage, 7 x 5 inches. Used with permission.

©Vickie Martin, Circle of 4th. Collage, 7 x 5 inches. Used with permission.

25. Add your artwork to every page of your site. The Web is more image-based than ever and you, a visual artist, are in a prime position to capitalize on that. Use all of those pages to show off your art.

26. Vary the images on your site. Show your art in process, in situ, and in exhibition installations. Include photos of you in your studio and with collectors.

27. Embrace video and post a trailer for your art on your site. Putting a voice and face to your art can help you sell more work.

Social Media

28. Use an image of your art for your Facebook business page, and then comment on other business pages as your page (not your personal profile). Others will see your art and be encouraged to visit and like your public page.

29. Use a desktop platform like HootSuite, Later (Instagram), or Flume (Instagram) to organize and post-date your social media updates.

30. Respond to everything! Don’t just click on Like.

31. There are legitimate reasons for tagging people, but don’t spam people by simply tagging them in order to get them to see your link. This is lazy, annoying self-promotion.

32. Say nice things about people and encourage others.

33. Be proactive and follow people. Don’t wait for them to follow you!

Plan

34. If you have a big event or exhibition coming up, make a promotional plan for peace of mind. A plan consists of clearly defined tasks with deadlines.

35. Commit to a marketing mix that includes social media, email, and regular mail. This is a powerful cocktail that will cover more ground than relying on a single platform.

36. Plan something big that challenges you. Big projects get noticed and move the dial in your favor. You don’t have to know how you’re going to make it happen, you only have to begin. You’ll never get anywhere without taking risks and moving beyond your comfort zone.

37. Track your results so that you can plan better next time.

Finally

38. Build your confidence by continually moving forward with increasingly challenging projects. We like to buy art from artists who know what they’re doing and where they’re going.

39. Send out only positive energy. Don’t complain, whine, or criticize in public or on social media. People are less likely to buy from you if you exhibit these negative qualities, which are signs of weakness.

©Margaret Bobb, Magical Moment. Acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas, 24 x 48 x 1.75 inches. Used with permission.

©Margaret Bobb, Magical Moment. Acrylic on gallery-wrapped canvas, 24 x 48 x 1.75 inches. Used with permission.

40. Accept 100% responsibility for your successes and failures. This will empower you like nothing else. When you blame others, you are relinquishing control.

41. Give people the tools they need so they can help you promote your art. You probably have an army of people willing to help you. Tell them how!

42. Under promise and over deliver in every aspect of your business. People are unhappy when you don’t do what you said, but are delighted when you exceed their expectations.

Your Turn

Remember that you are a work in progress. Improve one aspect of your business at a time and do it well before moving on to your next area of focus.

What’s your first item to improve? Please tell us in a comment below.

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37 comments to 42 Ways to Improve Marketing Results

  • I heard a vibrant talk about entrepreneurship a couple of years ago, and one great piece I took away from it was this: Entrepreneurs are really good at trying out new things. We’re 100% in, but if an idea doesn’t work, we lament for a few minutes, and then move on to the next thing! That was reassuring and was helpful to hear! It really is a fluid and constant work in progress.

    • Hmmm. It’s okay to a point, Helen, as long as you give it 100%. If you’re only trying things once and moving on, you don’t learn. Better to tweak your good idea and make it even better. Think of it as an art piece that you have to massage to get to come out right.

  • Hi, I loved the information provided on this post. Thank you for writing it!

  • Thank you for these timely tips, Alyson!
    I’m furiously getting ready for this weekend’s Fort Collins Studio Tour and really appreciate this info dump. I have already adopted some of these marketing behaviors into my business plan, but I’m thrilled to learn more to help promote my artwork.

    Here (hopefully) is a link to my newsletter with information about the Studio Tour. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, come up to Fort Collins…it’d be great to meet you!

  • Papyrus is all over my website so I am switching it to Comic San. I was hoping that if I left it that way long enough it would come back into favor and be sorta retro. Actually it would be rather expensive to switch. What font is actually in favor these days?

    • Ha! This made me giggle, Kevin.

      The thing about your site is that the yellow letters on black background are much too harsh for your work. Your art is so much more sophisticated than that. The combination is jarring and your work is exquisite – too much competition.

      You might think it’s boring, but I’m more concerned about you changing that combo. Background white and text black or dark gray.

      There are lots of interesting fonts these days because of Google fonts. This site uses Lato.

      • Thanks Alison I will consider your suggestions. I always thought that the artwork looked better with a black background but a white background might work as well. I realize that the site is dated and in need of an overhaul. Currently I am rethinking what template to use for an artist portfolio website it is hard to find one that doesn’t crop all of the artwork into squares which is unacceptable. Still searching thanks again

  • Wonderful information — all the rules of marketing outline and simply explained so that I can understand and follow them. Alyson, you are the bee’s knees!

  • Looks like I’ve got most of this covered 🙂 There are a few points to improve. One of them is the social media cover images and profile images for the page. Right now, they don’t display my art clearly

  • Panashe Wadawareva

    I really like the way you teach very important message or class.

  • I’m an abstract artist who makes art to fight chronic illness and pain. I’m less certain who would want to buy my art ie my audience.

  • Need to let my new website rest a bit, then go back at it and focus on how the art is presented. I’m thinking about how to put video in, too.

  • Hello Alyson,
    I am following your newsletter now for quite a couple of years and love how todays post seems to sum up most of what you shared throughout the past. There are a few points also for me to improve and a great reminder in general.
    Thank you for sharing all of it!
    Kath

  • Hi Alyson. As I’m just about to launch a new series of work (for an exhibition in June) that is totally different from what I usually do, these points are a great guide to work down. Thank you.

  • Hi Alyson, such great advice. Thanks so much for all that you’ve done for us!
    Holly

  • Thank you Allyson for such a well thought out and streamlined list. I don’t know which I will focus on first but it is super helpful and motivating.

  • Terrific info as usual! I’m working my way through this list. Networking and list building are proving the most challenging so far.Thinking relationship building rather than list building could help,but so many of the people I meet I’m unlikely to run into again. It often seems too abrupt to ask them right away to be added to my email list.

  • Awesome post that has real actionable advice. #41 struck a chord with me. Help people help you promote your work! For example I have seen artists frantic that people might take photos of their work on display. They would put up signs saying “No Photos Please”. Amazing since the opposite approach would be free advertising. Encourage photos with a shout-out of your Instagram handle, for example. Once your mindset changes you will come up with many ways to do this. Make it fun. Enjoy it.

  • Yikes…I’ve got work to do! Really? I can’t have Papyrus? But what if I’ve used it for years and consider it part of my brand? Thanks for this great reminder to review and update my websit.

  • Donna Levreault

    Thank you, Alyson for such a great checklist.

  • This is great content for both artists starting to market themselves, as well as established ones using this as a measure of use. Consistency with these behaviors is key!

  • Networking is so important. But thanks to the immense amount of channels out there as well as social media, it is getting easier to get your Art seen around the world without having to leave the comfort of your home.

  • Thank you for these always hepful reminders! I’m gonna print this for my Alyson’s wall collection. (I felt like a little slap on my face when reading #18, and I don’t know why😄).

  • Vickie

    I have to laugh – some of this you drilled into me years ago! I originally was using Comic Sans – lesson learned. Also – I had designed a nice banner for my blog – and you pointed out if I was leading with my artwork, they competed with each other. I realized I like the simple look, less is more in the design, let the artwork stand out. And I became very sensitive to the busy blogs, websites, etc. I just need to revamp the website and get back to blogging regularly. Networking is on my radar, become a caregiver changed my focus and it changed my opportunities, but they are still there! And – thank you for using my artwork! I’m honored!

  • I have come so far since the Art Biz course, yet I find that my poor computer skills make so many things a struggle. I love Fine Art Studio Online for my website because they provide such personalized help. thanks for the reminder that it is a work in progress. I love hearing from other artists.

  • Wow. Thus is such a comprehensive “marketing 101” for artists looking to promote their work. I would rely less heavily on mail marketing, and focus more on social media marketing. More and more people are turning to Facebook, twitter, and the like for their content. Most of people’s mail (even email) nowadays is simply being thrown in the recycle bin.

  • Hello,My first time on your website. You have lot of useful information to help people starting in the art business like me. i just build a website not to long a go, i have to concentrate in marketing.i really appreciate your information. thanks

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