by Carolyn Edlund
You’ve made a sale of your art or handmade work. Your customer is thrilled. Now what?
While a purchase is usually the culmination of the sales process, it isn’t the end of the story. In fact, it can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Your retail customer is clearly a fan, and you should take that to heart. It means that they are now a collector of your work. You have good reason to continue to interact with them, so that more business can be done.
Is your work collectible? If so, you may have long-term repeat customers who want to purchase again on a regular basis. As you build out your collection, you may want to deliberately create work that invites future sales by working in a series or designing groupings.
Repeat business builds your business. If you can make additional sales to each of your retail clients, you can generate more income at a much lower cost than gaining new customers. After all, it’s much easier to sell to someone who already loves and owns what you make!
Drive repeat sales by staying in touch with your existing customer base. Invite them to connect with you on social media. Keep them on your email marketing list, and send a monthly campaign eblast. Post invitations to your next studio sale on social platforms. Let them know about your newest work by sending postcards or announcements. Invite them to your next fair, festival, exhibition or other event.
Collectors in general are very pleased to meet the artists whose work they own. Quite frequently they feel honored to have been recognized and thanked by the artist for a purchase. This can be a conversation starter when showing others the art they own.
Make a point to get to know your best fans and collectors on a more personal basis. Reach out to them and tell them how much you appreciate their patronage and their friendship. Then follow up and prove how much they mean to you as patrons.
When you have a chance to converse with a satisfied customer, you might want to ask them to give you a testimonial. Many people are happy to provide one, especially if they received great customer service, or if you created a commission or special order for them. Testimonials have powerful marketing impact, and are considerably more effective than advertisements. Word of mouth is extremely important to today’s customers. People trust other people’s opinions, since those who give a recommendation get no benefit from the referral.
When your work is installed in your customer’s home, or perhaps if they are wearing what you make, ask if you can take a photo. Not only will you be complementing them on their acquisition, but with their permission you can share these photos on your website, on social media or in your other marketing efforts. This acts as a visual testimonial, and enhances the written ones. Combine them to show a satisfied collector with your work, and a quote from them as well for the biggest impact.
Another request you can make of collectors is to share your work and your name with others they know who may also have an interest. This can lead to referral sales, which are also easier to close than “cold” sales. Have you had a raving fan bring your more customers through their enthusiasm for your work? It’s happened to many artists and can be a source of ongoing income.
As you continue to sell and meet new collectors, establish a good rapport with them and continue to contact them over time. Making this a priority can result in even more sales and more raving fans.
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