Have you ever wondered what an art collector is thinking when you show them your work?
Here's the thing: While you can’t know a collector's every thought, there is a trick that artists can use to understand what collectors are thinking when it comes to buying art. And, you can use it to close more sales, grow your business, and be more confident about selling your work.
It starts with understanding the buying process.
It's the same process that we all go through whenever we buy something—whether it’s a drink at a coffee shop or an incredible work of art, you jump through the same six stages. These six stages involve making decisions big and small, to evaluate what it is you are going to buy.
Understanding what a collector is thinking when they are purchasing art is like wielding a magic power—you can anticipate their needs, questions and fears. When you can understand what a collector is thinking, you can figure out the absolute best ways to market your art and close the sale.
We are going to walk you through each stage of an art buyer’s decision-making process, so you can learn how to capitalize on it:
1. Recognizing the Need
There are many reasons why people choose to buy art —and they are all vastly different.
For instance, some want to fill an empty space on the wall with something beautiful, while others look for the right subject and price to fit their growing collection. All buyers have their motivations. But, before any purchase takes place, they have to believe that they truly need something they don’t currently have. Even if they simply need it to spark joy. Otherwise, why spend money on it?
With that in mind, ask yourself, how can you acknowledge or even create a “problem” during your marketing efforts, so that you can fill their need? And, how can you then position your art to align with what the buyer needs?
Some people may not even realize they have a need in the first place until you bring it up.
Do you need smaller works to fill the wall around this larger one? I have that.
Do you want to remember an elderly family member with a portrait? I can do that.
Do you need an award-winning piece for your collection? Look at this.
Whenever and wherever you can, acknowledge each buyer’s specific needs and how you can fill them.
2. Information search
You wouldn’t make a big purchase without doing your research, right?
That’s why this stage of the buying process comes next: the search for information. Buyers will start to look for answers about what it is they need to buy.
Remember, buyers’ minds are racing with dozens of questions at this point:
What kind of piece do I want? Where can I find it? What size? Which colors will match my décor? What price am I willing to pay? Can I afford it? When will I buy it? Will everyone else approve? Where will I put it? How will I get it home? Is this a good investment? Does it fit the scope of my collection? How successful is the artist? Is this the perfect piece? And so on…
Before any purchase takes place, these questions need to be answered.
Therefore, as an art business owner, you must be aware of how and where your target customers look for this information and how you can get their questions answered so they eventually buy your artwork.
Finding this info can go many different routes—talking to you the artist directly, looking online at websites, social media, and sites like Discovery, hitting up traditional avenues like art fairs and galleries, talking to third parties like art consultants or interior designers, visiting home décor shops, or even word-of-mouth from friends.
The truth is, the longer it takes or harder it is to get their questions answered, you can bet buyers will move on to something else. Attention spans are short these days!
Your goal, then? Make it as easy as possible to find, interact with your art business, and get their questions answered—all while showing your personality and convincing them that you are the best choice in a clear and concise way. Ah, the joys of marketing…
While that sounds next to impossible, it can be done! And, you’re probably doing more than you realize already! Here are a few things to consider:
If you’re talking face-to-face, practice covering some of this ground naturally in your “sales pitch” or be ready with answers.
If art buyers are surfing the web, make your online presence clear and easy to navigate.
If they are speaking with someone else in charge of selling your work, help those people understand enough about your art business to answer questions as well.
All it takes is understanding your target audience and how they operate—and then covering your bases from there.
3. Comparing Alternatives
It’s true—buyers may consider other options before they pull the trigger.
One of the best ways to maneuver through this stage of the buying process is by establishing yourself as the go-to artist for what they are looking for.
This is your chance to build up your credibility!
And, a good place to start is with your online presence. Your art might be amazing, but a mistake-ridden website is as good as saying, “I have no idea what I’m doing.”
To make sure buyers focus on your art and not whether they should trust you, fill your site with high-quality photos and descriptions, double check that all your links are working, proofread everything, and always keep your site updated with your latest art business endeavors.
TIP: Integrate your website with Artwork Archive! You’ll have a stunning portfolio of your art right on your website that’s automatically updated with your art inventory. No more long hours of coding. No more re-entering data. You can stay organized, save time, and impress collectors all at once! And, it’s as easy as copy and paste. Learn more here.
Also, if people are happy with your art, don’t keep it a secret! Social proof is a must.
Add testimonials to your website and share good reviews of your work on social media. Were you recently accepted into a juried show or gained gallery representation? Put it on your resume or mention it in conversation. The more people can see that you have satisfied clients, the more credible you will become as an artist.
Even if another artist makes a similar type of work for a better price, you can always get a leg up with a friendly presence, professionalism, great marketing, and attentive customer service.
Don’t be afraid to show them all that you have to offer!
4. The Decision
We are almost to the purchase, but not quite yet! The next step is all about making a decision.
After narrowing down the options, buyers are weighing the pros and cons of everything they’ve learned and are deciding whether or not to move forward with your art.
So, what is an artist to do?
Remind them of why they are here in the first place—that initial tug at their heartstrings—the need. Then reiterate why you and your art are the right choice.
Really listen closely to their concerns up to this point. This will help you understand how to close the deal, whether it’s retargeting your newsletter readers with a 10% off coupon or offering to wrap up the piece for them right there at your booth.
Provide them with a sense of security that they are making the right decision.
And, if they don’t decide to buy your art that minute, not all hope is lost! Grab their email address, keep in touch, and keep addressing their needs. One day they may be in a better position to buy.
5. The Purchase
We’ve made it! You successfully navigated through the first four steps and have an art buyer dying to take home your art!
While it feels like victory has been won, there are still a few things to consider to make sure the things run smoothly from this point on.
Consider: what is the process like for buying your art? To make sure it doesn’t turn customers away, go through it yourself:
- Is it complicated?
- Do you accept all forms of payment?
- Do you remember to send invoices on time?
- Have you factored in taxes and shipping?
- Does your website’s checkout work correctly?
- Do you ask for too much information?
- Is your artwork packaged carefully?
- How soon will buyers receive their pieces?
- Is all of this communicated clearly?
- Did you remember to thank them sincerely?
If there are too many steps, it takes too long, or if it’s simply too difficult to deal with, buyers may back out even though they truly want your piece.
Take a look at what you can cut out or improve upon during this stage to make a collector’s experience more enjoyable! Because that may greatly affect the final stage of the whole buying process…
6. Post-Purchase Behavior
Even after a purchase is made, the story goes on.
In this last stage, your buyer will get to live with your piece and decide if the purchase was worth it. Good or bad (hopefully good!), they may express their feelings about you, your work, and the experience they had with your art business online, in emails, through word-of-mouth, and so on.
If they have concerns, do what you can to appease them and make a note to address these problems next time around. And, if they give you praise, shout it from the rooftops so more buyers come your way!
Excited one-time buyers often turn into repeat customers, so make sure you reach out to them again with more opportunities.
Finally, take the time to analyze what went well—how they heard about you, what is selling the best, etc.—so you can repeat that success throughout your art career.
In the end…
With this newfound insight into an art buyer’s mind, you need a way to keep all of these moving parts organized and put to good use.
With art inventory software like Artwork Archive, you can easily give collectors the answers they need.
Pull up details about your pieces on-the-go, from any device, and share these details with your work online.
You can even add your art portfolio straight to your website! It’s a beautiful, detailed, professional way to showcase your art that updates automatically with your inventory.
Generate invoices, gallery labels, and more with the click of a button, and get insights into which locations are selling the most work.
Plus, you can manage all of your buyers’ contact information, makes notes on certain people and pieces, and set reminders for when it’s time to reach out again.