Post from 137, April 2013

Forget the Formulas

Monday, 1. April 2013 0:07

There has been very little sales and marketing activity in my world of late. A friend with whom I was discussing this advised, “Don’t worry about it; you’re producing now.” And it’s true—I have not concerned myself with anything other than creating art since the beginning of the year. Well, I did enter a couple of shows, but that hardly qualifies. Now, if I were a savvy marketer—at least according to what I read—I would have in place a system that sold for me all the time: gallery representation, sales web site, membership in one of the internet art store sites, or all of that. I do not.

Obviously, this means that I need to come up with a plan. I need to develop, in Seth Godin’s terminology, a tribe. (I have commented on this idea before).  But exactly how to go about that is still elusive. Like you, I have researched and discovered articles, posts, webinars, workshops, and a mountain of other pathways to financial success in art. And I have read and listened and participated in a number of these. And I have come to several conclusions.

Everyone has different, often conflicting advice, so you have to choose whose advice to follow. Since you don’t know very much about marketing and sales to begin with, exactly how do you make an intelligent choice? Should you listen to the sales pitch? There will be one—every time. Should you pay money to read the book, participate in the webinar, go to the workshop, learn the secrets? Should you believe the success stories? If you knew how to evaluate these approaches to marketing and sales, you might well already know what you need to do.

And, of course, everyone assures you that if you only follow this formula, you too will achieve success in the sale of your art. Never mind that the mentor in question has no knowledge of you or your art—or even which medium you work in. How one can predict success with such a lack of knowledge is a mystery, but they manage somehow. This has worked for this guy and that guy; surely it will work for you. Again, should you believe them? Is this plan relevant to you and your art?

Some of these schemes require that you devote x hours per day to the tasks required. Given the other demands on your time, you may not have that much time available—then what? Some are remarkably difficult to implement. Some seem not just counter-intuitive, but completely foreign.

In all fairness, there are some specializing in marketing art who recognize that art marketing has to meet individual needs and so will have to be an individual undertaking. These advisors will simply say, “Here is a resource; some people have found it useful. You may want to give it a try,” or “here’s an idea that some people have used and found successful.” These advisors have my gratitude; I have found some of the ideas that they presented to be quite useful.

The fact is, of course, that there is no single formula that will work for everyone and everyone’s art. What works for one person may be impossible for someone else. Each artist is as different as the art he/she produces. Likewise, the approach to the problems of marketing and selling has to fit the individual.

As you tackle the problem of developing a tribe of those who appreciate and want to purchase your art, remember that any method that you use to get your art out there has to resonate with you and fit your style and personality. Just as making art is a very individual undertaking, so is the marketing of that art. You will have to develop it yourself.

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