Thursday, September 14, 2006

Pet Portrait Marketing Guide

A lot of artists have been writing to me just this past month about how to get your work seen. Just today a very nice lady wrote to ask how to get her Mom's custom portraits seen. Art Paw has a pretty strong web presence and many artists may think we are "lucky" or that maybe we know some easy secret to marketing that gives us an edge. The reality is there is no "easy" secret when it comes to marketing artwork. I would be happy to share a few tips that are working for us.

#1 Advertise off-line to drive traffic on-line.
We spend a few thousand dollars a year advertising in a variety of pet oriented national magazines. The cost for print ads can run as low as $200 and can go up into the thousands depending on your budget. We do small marketplace ads and try to keep our costs as low as possible.

#2 Show up at local pet events
National coverage is great, but do not forget to work your local market by showing up at dog and pet related events put on by local charity groups. Be sure and give to those local charities as well. Many rescue groups have yearly auctions and would love to have one of your portraits to auction off for their cause. They will often place your business cards and marketing brochures by your auction item.

#3 Search Engine Optimization
If you have a website make sure the engines can find you. I am always trying to read up on the latest news about optimizing for various web engines. I am not going to go into detail here and give you a step by step guide on how to do this because there are a gazillion web-sites out there that will teach you how. In addition to free information there are companies that will optimize your website for you for a small fee. If someone tries to sell you services for web optimization be sure and check to see how their web site ranks. You do not want to hire the company that is ranking on page 10 for SEO services.

#4 Printed Marketing Materials
The web is great and a well designed on-line portfolio is a good place to start but do not forget about old fashion marketing materials such as full color business cards, flyers, postcards and more. Leave these at your local vets, groomers and doggy daycare places. Slap a bumper sticker on your car with your domain on it ....get aggressive locally in getting your name out there.

#5 Spend almost as much time marketing your artwork as making it.
Yep, it sad but true, you should develop a real joy for selling because your first 5 years in business should be spent with at least 50% of your energies being put into marketing. If you are doing art fulltime and can afford to spend twice as much time selling your artwork as making it then you will succeed twice as fast.

#6 Network with other Artists
There are tons of successful artists on-line and while not everyone that you e-mail is going to feel compelled to give you any help it never hurts to ask. A word of advice in approaching other artists by e-mail, try and include your full name, web address and phone number. Do not try and be sneaky or pretend to be someone else. I have had a handful of portrait artists e-mail with their hotmail accounts to ask how my ad in a specific magazine is doing for me without even identifying themselves. Be totally above board and honest with people and they will usually be glad to help you. If you try to be anonymous it will usually backfire on you. Be willing to share a little of yourself when approaching other artists.

#7 Spend Some Time and Spend Some Money

I have never been shy about spending money on my business. It takes money to make money. I happen to love marketing and see it as a creative art form in itself. I am not afraid to invest time and money into selling because I know my work is good and that it will pay off if I invest in myself.

So if you are an artist get out there and start selling. Artists should also feel free to leave a comment here and share your own marketing tips. If you are a pet lover please order an Art Paw original today so I can figure out how to pay for my next print ad.


Sheila Finkelstein said...

Great tips, Becca. I'm definitely going to start passing this on, as soon as I finish posting here. I especially appreciate your statement that you "love marketing and view it as a creative endeavor."

I definitely will share this with people, artists and non-artists, who say they "hate marketing" and whom I know, and they know, are very "creative." Maybe this will put a new spin on it for them.

I am so glad to have you in my life as a friend and a mentor and thrilled with all that you have taught me about the web, site design and marketing.

With great appreciation for all that you contribute.

Picture to Ponder: Photos that Inspire and Transform

ThePaintedCardinal*ART*Boutique said...

Hi Rebecca! I'm very happy to have found your blog ~ I found it very useful! I took a look at artpaw as well and really enjoyed the amazing portraits :) Sincerely Robin

cowbelly said...

Hi Rebeccah,

I have an idea to add to your marketing idea list.

It's a really simple idea, is dirt cheap to do, and one that I am just starting to implement, but I think it will be very effective.

Although most of my clients only have me do one shoot or art piece of their pet they often love it so much they tell all of their friends about it, AND even order art or photography or gift certificates for future gifts for people in their lives.

My clients end up being my best marketing tool, and about 70% of my business comes through word-of-mouth.

I realized that I should be rewarding them for doing business with me, and give them something that can be used as incentive to have the folks they refer to me actually contact me.

So I designed two different cute little 'discount cards' (hate the term 'coupon') front and back printed, and ordered them as business cards from an online printer. (I got the matte front and in retrospect should have ordered the glossy).

One card is for past clients, good for 25% off any future purchase made within 2 years, including gift certificates.

It's a generous discount, but I realize that the 2nd time around working with them will take less time because less information will need to be given about the process. And time IS money!

I include one 25% off card with print and art orders, along with a thank-you card (printed with an art picture of course, lol)

The second card is a "welcome to 'my business'" card for new customers good for 15% off any photography or art purchase made within 6 months, with a spot where I can write in the date.

Both cards encourage people to give a minimum of 4-6 weeks advance notice for holiday orders so I don't get even more swamped in November and December.

I include 2-3 of the 15% off discount cards with the thank you card for my clients, and tell them they can be given to anyone they know who may be interested in my products/services.

The idea is to reward current/past clients for their patronage by giving them coupons for their next purchase, as well as coupons they can give to their friends, family, boss, cousin, girlfriend, etc.

I wish I had done this a long time ago because of so many clients I have had who have been like free sales reps for me.

I think rewarding past clients is not only a great way to generate additional future sales from them but also to get more 'hot lead' referrals!

Anyway, I hope this helps someone out there reading it! :-)

Jamie Pflughoeft
Cowbelly Pet Photography

Kathy Weller said...

Jamie, that is a GREAT idea. Rebecca, thanks for the great hot sheet!! Great advice.

Dale Moses said...

Rebecca....I just found your blog about marketing. Very generous of you! Thanks, I learned a lot.
We actually have an aquaintence in common: Colleen at Archive Supply.
If you get a chance, take a look at my pet art.

and thanks again for your info. LOVE your art!
Dale Moses

Rebecca Collins said...

Hi Dale, Thanks for stopping by. I have seen your work over at Lucky's in Dallas. I have admired your style for some time.

John Mathew said...

Very informative and interesting post.It is really a big help. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.
the pet market
Pet Marketing

Undergroundferris said...

belief in your abilities, in your skill but also enjoying the work of selling. I couldn't agree with you more on either of these. It can be very hard work sometimes but when you do enjoy it, it is rewarding. Some of your clients will end up your best friends.

Micheal harris said...

Hi ther enjoyed reading your blog. I am new to selling my art through a website as i used to be selling my pet portraits by word of mouth. but was given a idea from a friend and returning customer saying have i tried to see if a vets would let me hang to framed portraits in waitng room with every sale giving a percentage to vets. do you think its a good idea?

Rebecca Collins said...

Hi Micheal, Yes, networking with your local vets is a great idea. I have done that some. Only thing is they are usually happy to let you show your art and put out flyers without expecting compensation for any referrals that occur. The reality is they make plenty of money and supporting local artists is something they are usually happy to do. Now when you work with pet store retailers and small business owners figuring out a commission for those folks is a good idea. They are struggling to make ends meet just like we are.