I've been teaching a series of classes about the Business of Art, explaining what goes into starting a sustainable art business. Thanks to the participants of the class and their questions, I thought it might be worthwhile to revisit one of the ways I've learned about my target audience.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Sales of your art work have slowed considerably, or you’re just not getting inquiries. The longer you go without sales, the more depressed you become; you tell yourself your artwork must be crap, or you feel like giving up.
Where are those buyers?
Yeah, I’ve been there too. When something doesn’t go according to plan, I always take a peek back at my earlier suppositions to see if I need to do something differently. In this case, I seriously considered my original ideas about my ideal customers, my potential buyers, might be wrong.
What do you know about your potential buyers? What do they like? What do they worry about?
Searching for Ms. Target Client.
I put my years of research and data analysis to good use.
- I paid to survey 50 people about buying fine art online. (I received survey results from 51 people - 1 freebie!) The fifty participants were a random selection of people within specific criteria chosen by me.
- Analyzed the data to achieve clarity.
- Introduced face-to-palm and then approached marketing from a different angle.
Please note what I am about to share with you is taken from SPECIFIC questions I constructed to a SPECIFIC group of people who met SPECIFIC characteristics and demographics that I chose.
That’s just a long, wordy way of saying, “Your results may vary because your ideal target customer is different than my ideal target customer.”
Look at some of the questions & the answers.
1. Use of Social Media
I don’t need to beat the dead-horse of social media. It’s here, we use it and some people make a business out of teaching you to use social media to sell your art work. But what do we really know about the effectiveness of social media for any given artist - in this case - me?
By the numbers
51 - Total number of people surveyed
9- Total number of people who “Liked” an artist on Facebook (1 person “liked” 10 artists)
6- Total number of people who “Followed” an artist on Facebook (1 person “followed” 5 artists)
2- Total number of people who “Followed an artist on Instagram”
1- person bought art because of social media
What does this mean? Social media “likes” or “follows” are not accurate indicators of someone as a target customer or the numbers of your target customers.
The size of your email list may be a better indicator of your pool of target customers. These are folks who have exerted a bit of effort to receive regular updates from you. They must be interested in something you're doing.
And, while I don't have the numbers to support this, I believe these results speak to the need for a relationship between any artist and the online community. I'm going to be investigating this idea further through the remainder of this year. (I have ideas!)
2. What is the hardest thing about buying art?
22 people said “price”
11 people said “decor related” i.e. will it fit, will the colors work in my house, etc.
2 people said “quality”
2 people said “finding art I like”
The remaining responses were all “one off” answers that didn’t fit into any of the categories above. What I gleaned from this question is the "objections" to buying art and buying art online. Now, I know the specific words the potential customers use and I can address their concerns - in their own words.
3. What is the biggest influence to buy art?
10 people said “price”
9 people said “I like it”
5 people said “it moves me emotionally”
4 people said “it fits in the space”
Only one person responded that knowing the artist would influence her decision to buy an artwork. This is an interesting set of answers. It has caused me to think deeply about "building relationships" with my potential customers. Alternatively, the answers could have been constrained by a "comment section". Participants may have felt they could only enter one choice, so they chose what was at the top of their minds.
My favorite response to “what is the biggest influence to buy art”? “my wife”. An honest man with a sense of humor supplied that answer. Ahahahahahahaha!
4. Biggest Concern about buying art online
11 people responded using words about the authenticity, legitimacy, provenance, potential for fraud and credibility of the source offering the artwork (i.e., the artist or a gallery site) and the “truthfulness of the ad(vertisement)” about the artwork.
I did not anticipate this answer. These responses lead me to question how we artists use the words “fine art” and how our audience interprets the descriptor “fine art”. Words such as “provenance, authenticity, fraud” suggest a sophisticated and knowledgeable buyer of the more rare artworks and auction houses.
Is it possible potential buyers consider “fine art” to be art only from the famous Masters and well-known historic artists? The artists carried in high-end galleries and auctions? This question was deepened by one respondent who said he would definitely buy a “used Van Gogh”. (Me too!)
3 people said they would feel guilty about buying fine art.
Let’s jump to the bottom line - the final analysis of all the answers. These survey respondents felt:
Buying quality art is expensive.
Buying art online is scary.
Buying quality art online shouldn’t be scary.
This bottom line is exactly what my target customer worries about. Now, it’s my job to address these concerns in every single bit of my marketing. I can build a specific plan based on these results. It’s going to take a bit of work to revamp, and time will tell if the effort is worthwhile.
The measure of success…will obviously be an increase in sales.
And, of course, I can keep doing the same ol’ same ol’ and expect different results. You know what that call that thought process, right?
Expect the best. Anything else is an adventure.
Questions? Comments? Drop them into the comment section below or over on the Facebook page. Do you Instagram? Yeah, me too! Find me @rklachance.
Don't forget to share with all your artrepreneur colleagues.
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