Recently a couple of things boinked me on the head (not literally!!) that helped me remember that I needed to remind folks of. See, now is the time especially for those nomadic artists out there to suck it up, kick those old asshabits right were it hurts ’cause you need to focus on doing things different. Because you are coming out of hibernation to a completely different world than was there when you entered you winter sleepy time.
Do you need….?
So, what were those boinky things? They are related to the season…spring in particular, when all those tinybizes that virtually closed their doors when the air started getting cold wake up, suddenly realizing they need bizness. Now, for them getting bizness is pretty simple…sit down with a computer (if they have one) find some “cool” clip art and some fancyschmancy letters. In a flash they have themselves a “flyer” that tells the world just how wonderful they are and best of all how cheap they are. In another flash they ‘re on their way to the local copy center to have 10 gazillion copies made in bright fluorescent yellows and greens, ’cause they want to make sure they “stand out”.
What I just described was the first group I ran into in the past few weeks. They were mostly lawn care people who ride around neighborhoods from thaw to freeze keeping our patch of green looking freshly grazed. The other part of this group, are mostly college kids seeking their summer fortunes by painting anything that stands still for thirty seconds. Representatives of both showed up on my door step in recent weeks, some pushed the ringy button to get my attention, others just stuck their fluorescent “flyers” in my door jam. Those I opened my door for greeted me with “do you need any painting or (substitute tree trimming, lawn care as well) ” as if that is going to make me jump right out and say “where do I sign?”
Awesomeness for pennies
Another group with similar world view are the small local retailers who suddenly realized the rest of the world is coming out of hibernation. Their response is not to much different than the door knockers and flyer leavers, they step up a notch by hiring “sign painters” to plaster their windows with ginormous letters spelling out SALE or CLEARANCE, some may think “long term” and sign up to “present” their wonderfullness on every local or neighborhood movie house screen around.
So what’s the point? Well, these “biznesses” were doing what they were told, for all of modern history, to do…tell people how wonderful you are, tell them how lucky they would be to have such awsomeness for such a low,low price. That’s it…no more, just awesomeness for pennies. See, these folks are going to continue waking up every spring only to repeat the same old ritual and same old wonderings as to why they can’t “get bizness”. What little bizness they did grab was mostly luck with a little help from low price but mostly..just luck.
But I’m not a door knocker…
Well, artists as a whole are not much different, they just don’t knock on neighborhood doors. Awakening from their winter sleep, artsy nomads frantically start sending out applications to juried shows with little knowledge of whether the show was/is worth schlepping their stuff for several hundred miles to sit in the heat for two to three days. And, like the door ringers sales are pretty much random, depending mostly on someone “stumbling on” their booth.
Gallery artists can be more like door knockers if they aren’t careful because they can easily fall into the oldest law of all…harvesting and converting leads by cold calling not to far from the Fuller Brush guy of the ’40s and ’50s. The end result today is so different than those old sales hay days because the gallery owners really aren’t interested in being converted.
So as you come out hibernation don’t repeat the old “laws of selling” , instead approach this season from a different point of view at whatever pace suits your style just don’t repeat the same old habits because you’ll get the same old results. Here are a few things to get you started:
- Greet folks entering your booth and start a conversation…about them
- Start collecting e-mail addresses and start using the ones you have
- Talk to your potential buyers to find out the problem motivating them then offer a solution even if it is not you.
- Use twitter, facebook and your blog to alert folks that you are coming their way
- Stop applying to any and every show, do some research to see if the niche you serve is likely to be there and show up.
- Stop “cold calling” start visiting and studying each gallery you are interested in.
- Develop and start following a set of criteria for visiting a gallery based on your values, vision and likelihood of your niche audience showing up and buying. If your work is western art don’t expect a gallery in an avante-garde neighborhood to work.
- Have conversations with gallery owners find out about them, who they serve, their values and their criteria for showing.
- Find galleries likely to display and promote your art in ways that respect its’ value as well as yours.
That’s it in a nutshell, remember “nothing changes, if nothing changes”.
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