Enhancing the Art Buying Experience


This is an excerpt from Annie Strack’s article on enhancing the art buying experience for your clients. For the full article, download a digital copy of the November 2011 issue of Professional Artist.

There are many ways that you, as an artist, can enhance the art buying experience without significantly affecting your sales profits. Simple things, such as including a small promotional item or a formal record of an artwork’s exhibition history, might be a little extra cost for you, but can be a significant and valuable bonus to the customer.

Adding a little bonus value to your customers’ purchases can not only boost your sales, but also encourage your buyers to become collectors. Collectors are the customers who care more about the value of art, rather than if it will match the sofa. They are also the people who will hopefully purchase multiple works from you throughout your career.

Here are 15 inexpensive things that you can do to add extra value to your art and encourage buyers to become collectors:

  1. Include a bonus gift with purchases. Including a small gift with a purchase doesn’t have to cost very much, but can be a pleasant surprise for a buyer, encouraging him or her to buy from you again. Consider small items that feature your art and simultaneously promote your business or brand, such as a pack of note cards, a calendar, a magnet or a tote bag. Not only do your customers feel extra special, but every time they use your gifts, they are helping to increase the visibility of your artwork.
  2. Give discounts for multiple purchases. Discounts on single works run the risk of decreasing the value of one’s art. However, if a buyer is interested in more than one work of art, a discount based on multiple or repeat purchases can help to close the deal and keep the customer coming back for more. Recognizing that the customer is now collecting — and then acknowledging and rewarding him or her for it — helps to create and strengthen consumer loyalty to your company. The discounts don’t have to be big; it’s more important that it be perceived as a special gift or bonus for your collector, and not as a devaluation of your art.
  3. Reward your customers for referring you. Happy collectors will spread the word about your art, and encourage their friends to collect your work, too. To help ensure that your collectors continue to refer you, it’s a good business practice to reward them for sending you new customers. Referral bonuses can be in the form of discounts on future purchases (just be careful about de-valuation), or gifts, such as reproductions or small original artworks. You can easily use your artistic ingenuity and create your own custom gift certificates or coupons for these types of rewards, tailoring each one to meet specific situations as they arise.
  4. Don’t skimp on art supplies and materials. Creating artwork with poor quality materials that will deteriorate with age is like spraying “art collector repellant” on your artwork. Nobody wants to spend money on paintings that crackle or chip, prints that fade or sculptures that corrode into dust. Artists don’t always have to use the most expensive supplies available, but it is important to make sure that the materials are all archival.
  5. Offer free shipping. Shipping costs may seem high, but when compared to the relative price of the artwork, they are a small percentage. For instance, it costs me less than $50 to ship a $1,000 painting, so offering the customer a bonus of free shipping on that painting only costs me about 5% off that sale. This way, I’m able to give my customer an extra value with the purchase, without having to discount the actual price of the artwork.

To continue reading, please download the digital edition of the November 2011 issue of Professional Artist.