This post is by Clint Watson, former art gallery owner and founder of BoldBrush, known for FASO Artist Websites, the leading provider of professional artist websites, the $38,000+ BoldBrush Painting Competition and the free daily art marketing newsletter, FineArtViews. As a self-proclaimed "art fanatic", Clint delights that BoldBrush's downtown San Antonio, Texas office is full of original art, as is his home office which he shares with his two feline assistants Kiara and Lilly. You can connect with Clint on Twitter, Facebook or his personal blog at clintavo.com
When I was in the gallery business, we sold a huge percentage of art to collectors who all were interested in the same painting. How did we do that?
It worked like this: We would advertise a Pillar Painting (more on what this means below) in an art magazine. A new prospect would call, and after talking with them, we'd sell the painting. Then a second person would call. We'd gently explain that the painting was sold but offer to contact them when the artist had other pieces that felt similar to the sold one. At that point, we'd generally take a lot of time to learn about the person's interests and get a very clear idea of what types of paintings the person would be likely to purchase. Sometimes, we'd have other paintings on hand at that time, other times we'd have to wait for the artist to produce new work. This process would repeat 20 - 100 times as people responded to the advertisement. We'd add, let's say an average of 30 well-qualified new prospects per ad. We ran advertisements every month and sometimes more than one a month. You can see how this added up to a lot of qualified prospects.
Here's the important point of this story:
Sold pieces represent an opportunity because they are already proven to be enticing enough to sell.
Instead of immediately removing sold pieces from your website, or your outbound marketing efforts, you can leverage them to expand your audience and add more names to your contact list and your mailing list, which should be the main focus of most of your marketing efforts.
When you sell a piece, especially if it's one of those special pieces that you "could have sold" a dozen times over, take that as a sign to utilize that image as a "Pillar Painting". Yes I'm coining that word.
Bloggers have long understood the power of "Pillar Content", but artists have tended to squander the opportunity to leverage sold "Pillar Paintings."
Don't just sell a great piece once and then hide that image away from the world! Leverage that image to generate more interest in your future art works, just as my gallery did with those sold works that were in print advertisements.
Sold paintings have several things going for them.
1. Sold paintings have already proven that they are masterful enough and interesting enough to sell.
2. Sold paintings become even more interesting to people because, once they find out it is sold, they now have social proof. And it's the best kind of social proof: it's not a like, it's not a share, it's that someone actually put up hard earned money to acquire the piece. This provides credibility for you, the artist, and for the painting.
3. The fact that it's sold makes it even more desirable to people. This creates an air of exclusivity around the painting and the artist.
When you have a "Pillar Painting", because of all these benefits, you should utilize it in your marketing, because it is likely to generate more interest and responses.
When utilized well, Pillar Paintings can also create spillover effects to the rest of your portfolio, increasing interest in your other works.
So here's what I'm proposing:
Use the sold Pillar Painting to get people interested in your work, then redirect them to other works they may like as well or better (just as we did with our sold advertised works in the story above).
For this to work, when you sell a pillar painting, don't immediately mark it sold on your website. Just change your site settings so the call to action button is "Inquire about this painting." (To do this in FASO you can simply remove the price and we will automatically change the main call to action button from "Add to Cart" to "Contact the Artist").
It's important not to mark it sold, because if you do, that will discourage people from contacting you, and you'll lose the benefit of this strategy. Again, getting people to contact you so you can expand our audience is your main goal here.
When somebody contacts you, explain to them that, unfortunately that particular piece is sold, and ask if them if they'd like for you to contact them in the future when you have other pieces along the same lines that you think they might like. Anyone serious will say yes to this.
At this point, you add them to your contact list (side note - you should be keeping a contact list - this is a separate list from your newsletter mailing list and I will expand in an upcoming article). Be sure to note, in your contact list, which piece this person was interested in. If you forget to note their interests, you won't know when to contact them in the future.
Once they say yes to that, offer to add them to your email notification list, so they "can be the first to know about new art." They will likely say yes to this as well. If they do, add them to your newsletter list.
Going forward, as you create new works, scan the people on your contact list who's notes indicate they would love the new painting, and reach out to those people personally, before you send any kind of newsletters. To make it even more special, and likely to sell, reach out in a more personal method such as a text message or a phone call. In a world of email overload, these methods will stand out better. Do these things, and you'll probably sell the piece before you even get to the step of an email newsletter or posting to social media. If it does sell, consider it a new Pillar Painting and repeat this process.
Until next time, please remember that Fortune Favors the Bold Brush.
BoldBrush/FASO Founder & Art Fanatic
The Marketing Guru Myth
The Psychology of SOLD