Corrina Thurston is a professional wildlife artist working out of Vermont, USA. She's also a speaker, business consultant, and author of two art business books, one of which has been a best-seller on Amazon in the "Art Business" category.
As a creative, you are constantly in pursuit of finding your authentic and real voice.
You probably feel vulnerable when you put your work on display, and it’s understandable that you want it to be able to speak for itself. You don’t want to explain to someone why they should buy your art and dread you might come across as “salesy", pushy, or desperate when you do.
Unfortunately, your work doesn’t speak for itself.
You need to learn how to explain your work and connect it to your audience in order to succeed with your creative business.
Learning how to write and speak about your art in a way that allows potential customers, clients, and collectors to recognize its value helps potential clients realize why they need your artwork in their lives. You need to learn marketing.
Here are nine steps to help you do just that:
Know your target audience.
Do you know who your best customers are likely to be?
Who out there will become some of your biggest and most raving fans?
Is it a particular age group, gender, class, race, etc.?
Do they have particular interests, such as wildlife, gardening, bright colors, human interest stories, nature, etc.?
The more you know about the people who love your creative work, the easier it will be to connect with them and market to them. Think about your ideal customer and what they like and why they are attracted to your work.
Learn where your target audience gathers.
Knowing your target audience also includes researching where those particular people gather, both on and offline. Knowing where they gather means you can send your marketing materials to those places to reach out to them. The best marketing materials won’t do you any good if your ideal customers don’t see them. So put your marketing in places they’re likely to notice them the most.
Write to one person.
Now that you know your ideal customer and where to reach them, you need to target them in your writing.
You are marketing to them in particular, because they’re the ones who are going to care the most about your work. When you’re writing your marketing materials, this is your chance to reach out to them directly. So don’t write like you’re writing to everyone, write to that person in particular, like I’m doing right now. I’m not writing to everyone, I’m writing to you and trying to help you with a particular challenge I know you have, which is marketing your creative work.
Use stories to engage.
Stories are magical. Use them whenever you can in your marketing.
Stories are more engaging for your audience, which means they’ll be paying more attention. They’re also more emotional in nature and will connect on a deeper level with your audience. And they’re more memorable, which means you’re work will be more memorable and those people are going to be more likely to talk about your work to their friends, spreading word-of-mouth.
Stories can be about a particular piece you’ve created, why you chose your medium, how you became an artist, who inspires you, why you chose your subject matter, etc.
Marketing is all about persuasion.
You’re writing or talking to people about your work to try and persuade them to buy it, share it, or utilize your services. In order to do that, you have to write persuasively. You can’t just list the facts or say, buy this. Instead, you need to pull on their emotions to connect them to the work and promise them they’ll gain something from their purchase as a benefit.
Focus on THEM.
Your creative process is about you.
Your work is about you and how you see the world. But make no mistake, your marketing is all about your audience. Everything in your marketing needs to be focused on your potential customer and what’s in it for them. You’re only mentioned in your marketing materials because of their interest in you.
Talk about the benefits.
Like I said above, your work can’t speak for itself.
But if you learn about your audience and can then talk to them about why they should buy your work, you’ll start making more sales. Connect it to their emotions and if a piece makes them happy, make them realize they can’t live without it and they’re going to want to see that piece every day in their own homes for it to continue to make them happy every day.
Or perhaps what you do has a more direct benefit, like a handmade quilt or scarf. In that case, you can talk about the emotions behind the design and colors, while also focusing on the benefit of staying warm in a quality-made product, high-end materials, unique design, etc.
Recommend, don’t sell.
Still struggling with the thought you might come off as pushy or “salesy"?
Here’s a trick for you: instead of trying to sell something, pretend like you’re recommending it to a friend.
Ignore for a moment that you’re going to make money off of the transaction if they buy it and try to connect it with that customer or client. When you recommend a restaurant or book to a friend, you’re not doing it for money, you’re doing it to help them experience something you thought was great. Well, that’s exactly what you’re doing with your artwork too. So start recommending it instead of trying to sell it by focusing on why they might like it and why it would make their lives better.
Use a call-to-action.
You’ve seen these at the end of every newsletter and infomercial and marketing that’s been directed at you. It’s the, “Call now", or the “Shop our selection here” buttons and phrases.
The reason they’re used so much? Because they work.
Sometimes people need a little reminder as to what you want them to do. So give it to them with a quick call-to-action by saying things like, “See the new series here” as a clickable link, or “Visit my website for more", etc. Let your audience know what next step you want them to take, and make it as easy as possible for them to take it.
For example, here's one:
Learn more about art marketing, artist statements, writing proposals, reaching out to the media, and more in Corrina’s latest book in her art business series: How To Communicate Effectively – For Artists & Creatives.