Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Poll Results: The Best Method of Promoting Art Sales

For some curious reason, The Making A Mark Poll for September which asked "What's the Best Method of Promotimg Art Sales" got a very low response rate.

The only reason I can think of is that people maybe didn't appreciate the distinction in marketing that I was drawing between:
  • the best PLACE to sell art (covered in the August Poll); and
  • the best way to PROMOTE art.
They're actually two different topics - within a model of marketing (The 5Ps of the Marketing Mix - see below) which suggests that there are a number of different considerations which need to be taken account of when marketing anything.

Below I provide the results of the poll and then go on to highlight the distinctions between where you sell your art and how you promote that sale.

Bottom line - artwork does not sell simply because it gets hung on the wall of a gallery or posted to your blog or an auction site.  First you have to get people to look at it and to find it attractive.

Results of the Poll

Only 22 responded to the September Making A Mark Poll.  The results are suggestive of good practices.

The top three methods of promoting art sales lean towards the traditional (within the context of recent developments around social media):
  • via word of mouth (collectors and family/friends) used by over a third
  • on the Internet via their own blog or website - again used by over a third
  • around a third use cards to remind people about their art - either business cards or Christmas cards
Both Twitter and Facebook were in the bottom half of the responses - as was advertising.  

It was difficult to detect any difference between artists who sold via galleries and those who sold direct to their customers and clients.

The 5Ps of the Marketing Mix

What are the 5Ps?

The 5 Ps are:
  • Product - the attributes of what you are trying to sell (eg a painting) which make it unique and of value to others. 
  • Price - how you price the product (or artwork) so it's competitive within the context of  prevailing prices asked for similar products within the marketplace -ie how you use price so what you are marketing attracts interest from potential buyers.  
  • Place - where you sell a product or service.  In the case of art this references whether you sell it in an art gallery  an art fair, your own studio, via an online gallery or through your own website or blog
  • Promotion - how you tell the marketplace about the features and benefits of a product or service and how a customer can realise these for themselves.
  • People - who handles communications about the product or service in exchanges between the place it is sold and the person who purchases it
How does this apply to an artist?

So, for example, if you're primarily selling your artwork via your blog:
  • the place where you sell art is your blog.  
  • the promotion you use would therefore be tailored to the place of sale.  In the case of a blog this might involve
    • the name of the blog
    • the design and look of the blog (its "brand image")
    • the text and image you use to describe and show people your artwork
    • alt tags for images
    • writing a unique search description for Google for each post (see How to create a 'search description' for your Blogger post)
    • other mechanisms you use to promote your artwork being found by other people eg  posting a link to the blog post on Facebook.
The bottom line is that promoting art goes way beyond simply having a blog or website.


  1. Il a été intéressant de lire cette publication. Je vous en remercie.
    Gros bisous

  2. My html newsletter is my best promotional and sales tool.

  3. Hi Katherine,
    Thank you for the results of your latest poll. I appreciate the sample size is small but it's interesting that B&M galleries and online galleries do not feature on best places to promote your art. Although I appreciate the distinction (between promotion and selling),aren't some avenues good to both promote and sell?
    Best wishes,

  4. It's the ACTIVITIES undertaken by the gallery which are the promotion - not the fact that you have work hanging in a gallery.

    So for example, if you've got work with a dud gallery, the work is unlikely to sell. The work will hang on the wall and whether or not it sells is entirely down to the footfall outside the gallery, whether people step through the door, the attitude and demeanour of those selling work in the gallery and the size of the wallet of the prospective purchaser. At least one of those relates to the "people" element of the 5Ps

    However if you have your work with a gallery that doesn't have a bricks and mortar gallery but does work hard at promoting individual pieces of art to its extensive list of buyers/clients via email newsletters and social media and art fairs then the work might well sell.

    So bottom line art galleries OFFER the opportunity to be a PLACE to sell work and a vehicle to PROMOTE art - but promotion requires people doing things before and after the work hangs on a wall.

    The acid test is to look at the sales made by some art societies. Believe me I know which are the ones with the very methodical approach, the extensive mailing lists, the carefully scheduled communications and the buyers' previews and which are the ones who think art sells because it's hung on a wall!

  5. Hi Katherine,

    Thank you for the precision. What you are you saying makes sense.

    Best wishes,

  6. Very true about art galleries promoting the work or not.I used to display work in a gallery in which I was selling a painting a month.Later the gallery was sold to a new owner,and sales dropped immediately.The simple reason for this was that the new owner did not have any idea about advertising,or promoting the artists,but rather relied on foot traffic and the hope that the work would sell.This gallery is now closing its doors as a result of this philosophy.


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