The first dirty secret is there are no secrets.
The truth is art marketing success is not about secrets, it’s about smarts, savvy, ambition, and a generous amount of art that is like compelling catnip for buyers.
Seven Attributes of Successful Art Marketers
In my decades of art marketing experience, I have found successful art marketers share these seven attributes:
1. Grounded in Reality
While it is okay to put your intentions into the universe when you are seeking new things in your life, it works much better when those intentions are backed by more than wishful thinking. In other words, before you set your sights on getting your work in the MOMA, it’s advantageous to know you have a realistic shot. So, make a brutal self-evaluation of your skills, talent, and prospects, then proceed with vigor.
2. Studies the Competition
Let’s face it. None of us is unique. The universe may not be unique. Scientists now seriously consider multiverses where among trillions of other universes you may have an exact double. If that is the case, then surely there are other artists succeeding at making work closely related to yours. It’s okay because competition is healthy, it raises awareness for everyone in the same genre. And, if there is only enough room for your art in your marketing world, it is guaranteed to be too small for you to get big and rich. So, know what the other guy is doing, and make your art and your marketing better.
3. Tests Resources
No one has endless hours and dollars to throw at marketing. Smart art marketers have dialed in what works best for them. They have researched available marketing options and use the ones that produce the best results. They keep testing alternative methods and quickly incorporate the winners. If you are not doing this, you have put yourself at a competitive disadvantage.
4. Has Discipline
Finding enough time to make art and market art takes discipline. Set a schedule for both and don’t cheat yourself on either. If you fall behind on production, your sales and potentially your reputation will suffer. If you fall behind on your marketing, you will not need to worry about your production. Commit to yourself. Get it in writing and do it. No whining.
5. Fueled by Desire
It is much easier to find the time to perform necessary tasks, especially the mundane repetitive ones, if you have a larger goal in mind. Goals are necessary, but they are just words. Desire is about actions. The more you consistently act on your goals, the more your success becomes reality.
6. Pays Attention to Details
It does no good to pile on the action with fervent intention unless guided by details. Do you know what you are supposed to do on Tuesday? Do you know all the steps required to get your next newsletter together? Having a systematic routine that provides a pattern for critical tasks is how you achieve monumental things. We got to the moon by a million little steps performed in sequence.
7. Is Customer Centric
Being in tune with customers, whether art buyers or galleries, is a key to providing art they will be excited to sell for you, or to own. Although taking clues from developing trends is worthwhile, having instincts to know what will please your customers is the real secret.
Steve Jobs didn’t ask his customers if they wanted to hear music on an iPod. He knew they did because he was a music lover himself. As such, all he needed to know was he would love one. The same applies to the iPhone and iPad.
When you can tap into what delights your buyers, you can use your marketing smarts to hit home run after home run.
Two Bonus Points:
1. Smart marketers will sometimes use catchy headlines, as I did with this post, that arrest attention even if there is a twist on what the headline implies.
2. They are not afraid to ask for the business, or ask for help. You can’t get it unless you ask for it.