Cultivate collectors at art shows where you exhibit.

Art in the Pearl 2012


After attending a juried art show over the Labor Day weekend, I was struck by how many fine artists/exhibitors not only were not collecting emails, but did not have their contact information on receipts. Their cards had a photo of their work, but no social media venues listed to encourage people to find them EVERYWHERE.  

I thought about how they could do it better with QR codes. Why not have a unique QR code for each show they are in that links to a unique landing page on their website?  They should all have websites and not just rely on Etsy and Facebook. They need a medium that can be 100% branded to their style, their audiences and their particular personalities.  They can create unique forms and and individual welcome pages for each show that is tracked for its effectiveness. Imagine this:

You are at an art show. You are hanging back while people are crowding around the artist to talk about pieces they've bought in the past, similar items that they can "make themselves…" etc. You are interested, but not enough to push forward. What if off to the side there was a QR code you could scan on your smartphone and receive a discount just for visiting the show – 10% off or $10 – whichever is more?  Some artists would be fine with 10% or $50 off a purchase from the show!

Not enough?  What if…?

You could get the same discount later if you completed a 3-question survey including your name and email?  It would be sent to you with a nice thank you from the artist that would include mention of how crowded it is at shows and how much you are appreciated.

At best, it would include a video of the artist welcoming them to the show and their booth.  Humor would be good here.

The visitor may be inspired to wait, push to the front of your booth to meet you and make the purchase to take advantage of the special offer – on the spot! You have the chance to capture would-have-been-missed opportunities without much extra effort on your part once your pages are in place!

Suppose they do make a purchase. How are you going to reach them later? They paid cash, took the item with them.You need an electronic way to capture their information to add to your lists later, marking that it originated at this show. Google Drive offers the ability to create online forms that will store data. You can export the data into the familiar Microsoft Excel or another database, or even newsletter services such as MailChimp or other shopping cart-supported broadcast systems. And there's always Constant Contact's form, accessible just by pulling up the app and having it on your website.

Devil's Advocate: No Internet at the show?  Tempted to grab a card – if they have one and stick it in your pocket? Or the ever-popular fishbowl of cards to select a "winner."  Is this how you treat your valuable leads; by stacking them in a bowl and drawing one out? Oh, please, let's move into more current strategies of lead management.

How about asking them to pose for a photo with their purchase and you take it with Instagram or camera and tag it later for your records?  They are suddenly in the spotlight as a valued customer and future collector of your art.

What about having a spreadsheet open on your iPad, if you've invested in one.  All artists should invest in an iPad for their porfolios to be handy on a moment's notice. If the spreadsheet is open, you can quickly add their info into the list – take it off the handwritten receipt.  That's the least you should be doing.

Also, on your receipts, is your information PRINTED or STAMPED on the receipt?  YOU MUST do this.  At least have a rubber stamp made with your name, tagline, web address, email and phone.

Better to have professional receipts printed with duplicates. The back should have every way to find you: Facebook, web, Pinterest, Vimeo, YouTube, LinkedIn and the rest. You get the idea. Simply stapling your card to a receipt or folding their copy around your card is sloppy lead follow up. These are your CUSTOMERS. Treat them with respect, letting them know you want to have contact with them again – somehow – any way.  

Now the show is over. You did great and want to review sales. Look at the photos, form data, spreadsheet, then get ready to send out an email thanking them for coming. Have a field for the name of what they purchased from you. Segment your list for just this show. You may end up with repeat folks in more than one list.  Groupies are good for artists. Collectors are better.  Cultivate collectors.