“If you need a cash flow infusion in your business, reach out to ten previous clients” Tiffany Peterson
Your NetWork = Your Net Worth
Many creative entrepreneurs make the mistake of putting all of their marketing efforts into getting new clients, while ignoring the clients who have already bought from them.
This is a mistake!
It is a known fact in sales, in every industry, that your past buyers (in this case, collectors) will buy from you again and again. This is because if they bought from you once, they are most likely a qualified buyer.
If you nourish the relationship you have with your past clients, you will continue to sell to them.
In this post, I’m going to help you formulate systems that will consistently nourish your network.
We will cover:
- Why it’s YOUR responsibility to stay in touch with your clients
- Why your clients will continue to buy from you again and again
- How to stay in touch with past clients
IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR CLIENTS!
Many artists think that if a client was happy with their purchase, they will come back for more. But that’s not what happens. People get busy, they lose your contact information, or they just plain forget as their busy lives take over.
It’s YOUR responsibility, as the small business owner/artist, to stay in constant contact with your clients and collectors.
The best way to stay in contact is to set up systems and reminders. That way, you can’t get too busy to remember to nourish your network.
SELLING ART IS A LONG-TERM GAME:
Selling art isn’t like selling candles; the candle runs out and the buyer needs a new one. Artwork is often purchased when one buys a new home, sets up a new office, or redecorates. These events are spread out over years.
This means that your collectors may only purchase art once a year or every few years. When they are ready to buy a new piece, you want to be the artist that is on their mind.
To be the artist in on the top of their minds, you have to continually connect with them.
WHY YOUR CLIENTS WILL CONTINUE TO BUY FROM YOU, AGAIN AND AGAIN
Finding new, qualified buyers is hard work! How many times have you had potential clients ask for a price quote or inquire about your work, yet they end up not buying? It’s because they weren’t a qualified buyer.
The people who have bought from you before are already qualified. You have already connected with them. You have already done the hardest thing of all – to get them as a client! They are a qualified buyer that will buy from you again because they have the funds, they love your work, and most likely you were an absolute dream to do business with!
It is ten times easier to sell to someone who has bought from you in the past, then to sell to a complete stranger. This is because people are run by their habits; they tend to shop in the same places for the same things over and over again. Also, people like to buy from those they know.
To sell again and again to your past clients, you have to stay in constant contact with them. Why do you think COKE is still advertising? Everyone knows what Coke is. They know if they like it (or not). But if Coke stopped connecting with the public, they would eventually be forgotten.
This logic applies to artists, too.
HOW TO BE IN CONSTANT CONTACT WITH YOUR NETWORK: To effectively nourish your network, implement a system that is consistent and long term.
It is a known standard in sales that buyers have to see an advertisement or message at least seven times before they buy!
There are many ways to consistently nourish the relationship with your buyers and collectors:
- Handwritten Notes
- Postcard mailers
- Phone calls
- Holiday cards
- In Person – meet for lunch, a coffee, a hike, a walk, a golfing session, etc.
Choose two or three methods that work best for you. I will detail a few of these below.
NEWSLETTERS BY EMAIL
This is a very powerful way to continually connect with your network. It’s results-driven because:
- A newsletter allows you to update your clients on new art or projects
- It keeps you in the forefront of their minds
- They watch you grow as an artist over time, and will begin to feel as though they know you well
Many artists begin a newsletter program only to abandon it later, because it is a lot of work.
But it doesn’t have to be hard. You can keep your newsletters very simple. It could be one image with a short description, and then a call to action. A call to action would be anything that tells the reader what you want them to do, such as “call me if you want to commission a piece.”
Maria Scrivan, a cartoonist that I’ve had the pleasure of working with, sends a weekly newsletter with her “Cartoon of the Week.” It’s very simple; in every email blast she posts one cartoon photo, a short description about it, and then a call to action such as “to license my cartoons, contact me at….”
If you are a fine artist, you can use the same “template” as Maria Scrivan – that is, to have each newsletter feature one art piece, write a description of the art, and then have a “call to action”. (Sign up for Maria’s Cartoon of the Week).
Fine artist Paula Jones sends newsletters monthly. She also has a regular format; she features a new piece of art and shares a deep thought that she is pondering. You can see an example of her newsletter here: On Being Open.
There’s an article on Artsy Shark that gives you the basics of writing an artist newsletter, you can read that here: http://www.artsyshark.com/2013/10/24/how-to-create-an-artist-newsletter/
About ten years ago, when we sold art directly to specialty stores, we instituted a postcard campaign. Every 2 months we mailed a postcard to over 500 boutiques. Each postcard had just one image on it; the latest painting by Drew Brophy. The other side of the card had a “call to action” encouraging them to place an order for art prints.
After six months of mailing these postcards, I started to see powerful results. Sales increased significantly. People started telling me that they were “collecting” the postcards!
Postcards can be a powerful nourishing and selling tool, provided that:
1 – You are consistent – commit to mailing a postcard every month or every 2 months, regularly, for at least a year
2 – Show just ONE piece of art on the front of the postcard (not a hodge-podge of multiple images, as it won’t get the attention it deserves)
3 – Have a “call to action” on the back with all of your contact info. (Include your email and phone)
Absolutely nothing tops personal connection with people! Though it is more time consuming, it is the best way to connect deeply with your clients. Here are a few ways to make more personal connections with clients:
MAIL HANDWRITTEN NOTES – Most of us don’t mail hand-written notes to people anymore. That’s why it’s so memorable when you do! Here’s a few ideas on when to send notes:
- When an art piece sells: Send a handwritten thank you note to every person that buys an art piece from you; mail it a week after delivery.
- Weekly: Set up a system where you mail a handwritten note to five of your past clients weekly. Let them know you are thinking of them; even send them an article or something that may be of interest to them (if you know them well enough to know what their interests are).
- Holidays: Send a handwritten note to your best clients during the Holidays. This is an easy thing to remember – make it a yearly practice.
CONNECT IN PERSON – Take your clients to coffee, on a hike, or golfing; whatever fits your personality. These are bonding events that turn clients into friends.
One of our clients is a reggae band called SOWFLO out of Florida. One week they were touring California so we invited them to go surfing with us. A bus of seven Rastafarian-looking guys pulled up to our studio. We had an amazing day of surfing, standup paddling and sunshine! It was memorable for both them and us. This is one of the things that I love about my job, it sometimes requires me to go surfing!
PHONE CALLS – I read once that if you just called five people a week, you would see your sales grow by 40%!
When calling your clients, don’t do so with the intention of selling. Instead, call with the genuine intention to see how they are doing and if there’s anything you can help them with. Be interested in their lives and what’s going on. The purpose of the call is to nourish the relationship.
RELATIONSHIPS ARE LIKE FLOWERS – THEY MUST BE WATERED OR THEY DIE!
Sometimes I get so busy with running a business, a household and two kids, there isn’t time for anything else. I can easily forget to nourish my network.
And that’s where SYSTEMS AND HABITS come into play.
To help stay on track with regular, consistent nourishment of our network, I have put systems into place for Drew Brophy Art Collectors. My Google calendar is filled with reminders to help me stay on track.
An example of a system we have in place for when an original piece of art sells to a collector:
- The artwork is shipped.
- After delivery, a personal phone call is made to the collector to make sure it arrived and they got it installed okay.
- One week later, a hand-written thank you card is mailed.
- With permission, their email address is added to our monthly newsletter list.
- Three months later, I make a follow up call to see how they are doing.
- They are added to Drew’s VIP Collectors list, which means they get special deals and offers before anyone else on new artworks.
- As a VIP, they receive holiday greeting cards and special invites to events.
HOW WILL YOU NOURISH YOUR NETWORK?
If you don’t have a system in place, don’t worry. You can start today! Below are some questions that can get you started:
- Who are the top five clients/collectors who bought from me in the past?
- How will I show appreciation and re-connect with these clients/collectors?
- What system can I create, today, to stay in constant contact with my existing and future clients?
Please, take a few minutes to answer the questions above. My intention is to get you thinking of systems that you can implement to consistently nourish your collectors.
Also, watch this excellent video by Tiffany Peterson; I highly recommend you it! Watch here: Nourish Your Network Video
Please, share your thoughts in the comments below. How have you nourished your network in the past? And did you see results or friendships come from it? Please, share in the comments!