Now that we’re in the thick of the holidays, it may be too late to run a sales promotion that will get people into your studio or virtual gallery to purchase artwork that will arrive before December 25. Rather than bemoan might-have-been sales, start thinking about where you can channel your marketing efforts in the time remaining between now and the New Year.
If you are planning a holiday studio open house or exhibition, you will want to maximize that all-important face time with your guests. And even if you don’t get one-on-one time with your collectors and prospective buyers, some good PR and publicity can keep your name surfacing in your local community during the holidays and into the New Year.
Here are six things that you can do to promote your business before the clock strikes midnight on December 31:
1. Reconnect with all of your contacts. If you didn’t have the time or money to host an open house, reconnect with your contacts by sending greeting cards. You can use free online greeting card software to create personalized holiday cards that feature your artwork. You might check out Web sites like www.Zazzle.com and www.Snapfish.com where you can create custom postage stamps that feature your best pieces. (Buy extra stamps to use throughout the year when you need to send correspondence to individuals whom you need to impress.) Don’t worry if the holiday card arrives after December 25. Get it there by January 1 and you’re still able to say “Happy Holidays.” Plus, if your card is the only one in the pile, it might actually get read.
2. Give special attention to your most important contacts. Check your income records to see who makes the top five list among your clients. If they are local, pay them an office visit and drop off a thoughtful sampler of gourmet cookies, coffee, fruit and other specialty food items, or get creative with an art-themed gift basket. Who has gone out of their way to help advance your career this year? Don’t forget to find a special way to acknowledge these key supporters too.
3. Maximize face time. If you are attending any art-related events, fill your purse or pocket with your business cards, event postcards and even a pocket-sized schedule of the upcoming courses that you will be teaching. When you run into established contacts — art professionals, arts supporters and art students — and make new contacts, you will be prepared to make your pitch. Invite them to attend your upcoming show, register for your class or contact you about viewing your artwork. (Learn more about how to network.)
4. Find a last-minute charitable partner. Contact a local charity to find out if they are having a holiday benefit event. Perhaps you can donate one of your works to an oral auction or be included in a silent auction package that features dinner and a private studio tour. Many businesses host charity fundraisers or month-long food or toy drives; see if you can partner with one of these merchants. For example, if a restaurant chain is doing a food drive, perhaps you can donate a piece of artwork to the location that collects the most canned goods. A small-sized framed limited edition or original could be offered as the prize in a special raffle. Linking yourself with a charitable cause during the holidays can lead to great free advertising and possibly open the doors to new contacts.
5. Donate a percentage of your holiday profits to a local charity. No time to do creative partnering? Just total your holiday profits, determine what percentage you can give away, and hand-deliver or mail the check. Again, this can boost your image in the local community and generate press in the media.
6. Prep for post-holiday press pitches. It would have been great if your artwork was featured in a holiday gift guide, but the pitch needed to have been sent to the media months ago. However, there are other ways to get your name in print. What might be newsworthy? A holiday-themed exhibition, a novel product of yours that was a hit among holiday shoppers, a tie-in to a local charity, a donation of artwork, an upcoming class, workshop or seminar with a winter topic? In what section of the paper do want the news to appear? Lifestyle, community/metro, business? Do you want to appear after a calendar listing, be quoted in a trends piece or be mentioned in a post-event blurb that ties you to a local happening? Craft an innovative pitch, and e-mail it to the appropriate editor. (Read more about how to write press releases and calendar listings .) Keep editorial deadlines in mind as you prepare your pitch. Monthly and weekly publications have longer lead times than dailies, and feature stories are planned well in advance of shorter trends pieces, event summaries or calendar listings.
The idea behind promotion is to keep your business and artwork in the minds of customers to stimulate demand for your products and services. The strategies we’ve suggested here are ones that can reap huge benefits for very little cost — and not just this holiday season, but throughout your career. So once you have finished with ’09 promos, be sure to cuddle up with the 2010 calendar and start thinking how you can keep the bright lights shining on you every month of the year.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Art Calendar!
Contributing writer and communications consultant Ligaya Figueras specializes in business writing, marketing and media relations for visual and performance artists, writers, nonprofit organizations and specialty service providers. Follow Ligaya on Twitter at twitter.com/LigayaFigueras, or friend her on Facebook at facebook.com/ligaya.figueras.