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Don't Waste Your Money..

Expanding on the last post about marketing where you live, I know that many of you have community newspapers and magazines…have you considered placing an ad in your local paper?
Recently I came across the article below by Jack White (it’s long but worth reading and Jack is always entertaining), about the pros and cons of advertising and how best to advertise your work..
I thought I should share the post with you just in case you are in the same quandary…it explains why one type of advertising works and another doesn’t

  • Question: What is the biggest marketing myth that artists gulp down?
    Answer: “If I place a series of ads in art magazines, success will follow like a hungry dog
  • We see ads of other artists and assume they must be successful. Most of us subscribe to a minimum of 6 art magazines. At one time Mikki (my mate) and I were getting 14.
  • While teaching Mikki to paint and getting her career off the ground, I believed the print advertising myth. I thought to succeed we must get her name in print. The most logical way seemed to purchase ads in art magazines and press them to do stories.
    We developed a striking signature logo and began the process of branding the name Senkarik. Funds were tight in the early nineties, but we still managed to place a few ads. As money came our way, we increased our advertising budget
  • We are told in bad times we need to increase our advertising budget. In 1994, we upped our print ads to $25,000 a year. We repeated that program in ’95, ’96, ’97, and in 1998, we went all out, investing $76,000 in magazine print ads. You couldn’t open an art magazine without seeing Senkarik.
  • Millionaire Magazine put her on their cover and did a major article. We were doing a superior job of branding, but not to the right people. If exposure was the answer, then we had the biggest and brightest key on the chain. Our phone should have been ringing off the hook.
  • I had fallen for the most egregious myth in our industry. When we looked back at what our print ads accomplished, we were appalled. To our dismay there were no hordes of buyers running into the galleries with our ads in their hands. Thousands of artists knew Mikki Senkarik, but we hadn’t nudged the art buying public an inch in our direction. Yes, we were selling a lot of art, but I now believe we would have sold the same amount without spending obscene sums of money on print ads. It was painful to realize we had invested over $150,000 in four years on something that only stroked our egos and left our bank account anemic. Trust me, we could use that money today.
  • The demographics on who reads art magazines? 78% are artists. As it turned out we were purchasing ads to introduce Senkarik to a bunch of artists who couldn’t even buy their supplies. We got more calls from people wanting to sell us more ads than we did those interested in buying.
  • During Christmas 1998, we went over our advertising program and lamented the hit our bank account had taken. All my life I had been taught about the necessity to advertise if you wanted to be successful. That’s still probably true if you are selling cars, clothes or canvas, but fine art is different. Art is not sold en masse. It’s sold one piece to one person at a time, repeating the process over a great number of years.
  • If I had a new product line, I would still advertise. If I were selling frames, I’d advertise. No more will we pour money down the advertising drain to promote our art.
  • It’s almost impossible to do enough interruptive ads to gain success. The rule is you’ll run the ad six times before you are even noticed. Even that’s a lie. You can run the same ad 60 times and if what you are selling doesn’t interest your looker, they will pay you no attention. You cannot interrupt folks with things they have no interest in.
  • Print ads are called interruptive advertising. The ad has to interrupt the viewer to make him stop, look and then act to buy the product. The average American is interrupted over 1,000 times a day with some form of interruptive advertising. Your newspaper is crammed full, you cannot log online without being blasted with ads. Television and radio have more than their share and we now see them in the movies. Billboards blast us, flyers are crammed under our doors and sports teams carry messages on their uniforms. Polo shirts have the little horse and you see pants with the designer’s name across the wearer’s butt. Even rodeo riders have interruptive ads on their shirts. There are so many interruptive attempts on our brain each day that we have learned to numb them out.
  • In truth, none of us can spend enough on print ads to reach our sales goals. After careful study of our advertising effort, we discovered 92% of Senkarik’s first time buyers walked into the gallery off the street and fell in love with the art. An other 5% saw the art in the homes of friends or family and then went to the gallery to purchase.
    What percent came from print ads? Don’t know. We could only count 11 direct sales from clients who saw our ads. $150,000 for 11 sales in four years just doesn’t compute. It’s a sign of insanity when something fails and we repeat the process hoping for different results. I have egg on my face as I admit to our advertising mistakes
  • I began to observe The Book of the Month Club and other programs that offer a lot of stuff for almost nothing to get you on their mailing list. I’m thick headed, but I finally understood they were using a permissive marketing plan. When you buy a dollar book you are also giving them permission to hammer you endlessly with other items. The light clicked on. We made everyone who purchased so much as a note-card a Member of Team Senkarik. We built a special section on her Website for Members Only, requiring a secret password to get in. Members are important in permissive marketing. Without them you have no marketing plan.
  • It’s crazy because in building my own career I never purchased an ad. I relied on permissive marketing and the news media. I used permissive marketing, but I had not yet given the process a name. In the zenith of my career, I was interviewed over 50 times on television, in as many as 150 newspapers and dozens of magazine articles.
  • In simple terms, when people buy your work they become a client.
    They also are giving you permission to market other works to them. I recommend you mail your client base a minimum of three times a year. Four is better.
    Do not rely on emails. All too many artists read my thoughts on permissive marketing and decide to take a short cut and send emails rather than snail mail letters. Trust me on this, your client is like you, they are tired of Spam. We all get way, way too many emails and in most cases, we delete them without reading the content. It’s okay to email your monthly newsletter.
    Do not send a newsletter more than once a month unless folks sign up to receive them. You can wear out your welcome very fast. One morning you will wake up with bunch of, “please remove me from your mailing list
  • We vary our mailing. We send letters and jumbo postcards. We get our 6”x9”cards from Modern Postcard. We put a Senkarik image on one side and a brief message on the other. Today there are scores of companies that print post-cards cheaper than Modern.
  • If you do outdoor shows and festivals, always mail your collectors in the area, letting them know your booth number and give them an incentive to drop by. When I worked shows, I collected names and addresses from those who visited my booth. If they gave me their mailing information, then I made use of it. I accepted their permission to market my work to them. Not all bought, but over time I sold a lot of those “lookers”. 81% of sales come after the fifth contact. Staying the course pays off.
  • There is one form of interruptive advertising we do take part in. We do co-op ads with our galleries in Santa Fe and Taos in the Collector Guide and Inside Santa Fe. When a Senkarik client comes to town and doesn’t remember the name of our gallery, they find us in one of these books. They are more like art yellow pages. I don’t think of these as a normal interruptive ad. They are art directories.
  • Do not buy mailing lists or do blank direct mailings. That’s a waste of time and money. Only mail those who have given you their information. You have permission to market these folks, but the others will consider your cards and letters junk mail. Unsolicited mail is lucky if it gets .001% response. There are companies that will sell you mailing lists with the labels printed. These are a rip-off.
  • The bottom line is you have three avenues of promotion. You can spend money on print ads and hope to interrupt enough people to pay for the ad. Two, do permissive marketing to people who know who you are and third, you can flood art magazines, newspapers and various other media with news releases on what’s happening in your career. We know permissive advertising works. Art magazines and newspaper articles are hit and miss. It’s still worth the effort to be seen in articles and television interviews; however, place your main focus on reaching those who have already purchased your work.
  • Finally, be on the alert for vanity art magazines seeking to sell you an ad. They promise a short story and a few images of your work. Then they guarantee their magazine will be mailed to thousands of art galleries. So what? Only a miracle will make a gallery owner/ director phone and ask to represent one of those featured. A successful art gallery gets several dozens artists contacting them each month. Most have form letters for brushing artists off. Vanity art magazines are a total rip-off. The magazine is just another form of interruptive advertising.
  • This is your career — manage it well. Use permissive marketing to maximize your growth. We credit what success Senkarik has accomplished to our use of permissive marketing..

Jack White has the title Official Texas State Artist and recently Governor Rick Perry appointed him an Admiral in the Texas Navy. Jack authored six Art Marketing books. The first, “Mystery of Making It”, describes how he taught Mikki to paint and has sold over six million dollars worth of her art

Have you advertised or are even thinking about advertising?..Let me know your thoughts..
P.S. Almost daily I get requests from Vanity Art Magazines…I hit the delete button immediately…

Journal Comments

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