035: The Cost of Acquiring Customers for Artists
The cost to acquire a customer, why I can afford to lose $ on them and you can't, and some strategy and perspective on how to best approach your marketing.
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- [Patrick] Coming up on the art marketing podcast we're talking about the cost to acquire a customer. Why I can afford to lose money on them and you can't. And some strategy and perspective on how best to approach your marketing going forward.
Hey guys, Patrick with you here and if this is the first time listening to the show you can likely ignore this bit. For you loyal listeners, we, the podcast team and I, we took a trip down to hiatus and it turns out the beaches in hiatus are quite nice. And next thing you know we were supposed to come back and our flight got delayed. A couple of us lost our passports. We were stuck down in hiatus for awhile. But now we're back and we're fired up to back and fired up to resurrect the art marketing podcast and get it going again. I think the last episode was sometime around December-ish so we've definitely been off of it for a couple of months. Sorry for that.
Thank you to everybody for the encouragement. We got lots of emails and got lots of messages in the messenger box saying get it going again, get it going again, get it fired back up. So it's nice to be missed. Totally appreciate that. Coming back energized and ready to get into it. So if you're an artist or a photographer, you likely have some questions, you'll always have some questions about your marketing. Where should I be spending my marketing dollars? What is the hottest venue I can be marketing in right now? Do I need to be on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or Pinterest? What's the best way to grow my email list? Should I have a YouTube channel?
Should I start doing the show circuit? How could I get started, right? The same questions constantly, constantly, constantly come up. All great questions.
All important questions. All questions that we love delving into in this podcast. And there is no unfortunate one answer to solve all of them. It's complicated, right? It depends, right? It's different for every situation you'll understand. All of that aside, I've come to realize, especially through some work recently, that far too many people are attempting to answer those questions and not ask the next question. And what is the next question? What are you going to do after you've answered those questions? What are you going to do after you've acquired some attention, an email, a lead, a potential customer, even a customer, what are you going to do after the fact?
Because if you have not thought through and you don't have a strategy in place for what happens after the fact, you're putting yourself in a tough spot. And I think, as I unpack things here, the genesis for this episode really came, it came from a number of different things. And let me set it up, you know we continue to be running a bunch of contests on Facebook Messenger with many chat. The episodes not about that at all, but we've been doing that a bunch lately.
And during the course of that, and you know I think we first started running those contests and getting into that as a tactic on like I think the first podcast episode. It would have been January 18 and what are we, we're mid April, so it's been awhile. And we've leveled up our game quite significantly since then and it's not attempting to brag, you know the team and I have had plenty of practice, so inevitably you get much better at running them, right? And I'll include some braggadocio show notes, some images for the show notes, so you can see what I mean.
But if I loved those contests over a year ago then let me tell you I am over the moon on them now and why? So you know we've devised the tactical to get even more ROI out of them than ever before. It's crazy what you can achieve properly executed. So over the course of the last few weeks anybody that's an Art Storefronts' email subscriber or if you're on the messenger list, you've probably seen me showing off some of the results and taking you behind the scenes and kind of showing you what to do and the real purpose in all of that has been to get our Art Storefronts customer base fired up about them, start to get them educated, start to get them really excited so that we can build out some templates, so you can just click, install, and run these contests on your own. It's absolutely how strongly we feel about this thing as an art marketing tactic for the years to come. It's just so profoundly powerful. Now what's been really, really cool, is that in running those and I should tell you, so the last three that we ran, one if you didn't see any of the other ones, one was for a photographer down in Australia named John Lechner, one was for Megh Knappenberger, who's a painter, she's been on the podcast, and then one was Mathieu Laca who we've run the ones previously before who's a painter.
And we got some amazing results on all of them.
Some with some solid sales volume at the very end of them. Some with no sales volume at the end of them. And some TBD because it's still in the middle of it, but sales are going well. And this is the sale that you have after you've run the end of the contest. If you've never heard an episode on the contest then you might have to go back a couple, but it's not going to make or break this episode. But it was really interesting to see the completely different markets, different countries. Mathieu's in Canada, Megh's in excuse me, Megh's in the United States, and John's down in Australia. And so completely different results. All of which is A okay. That's always how it's going to go and it's how it should go. Some are going to be a home run. Some are going to be less so, but they're going to generate a tremendous amount of attention, a tremendous amount of new subscribers. So part of this episode is coming out of that. It's the genesis from there you know.
And also, during the course of running these contests, during the course of, I guess what I'm trying to say is some of the genesis came from running the contests. Now let's switch gears. Another bit of the genesis came from, as I was running these contest, and I was showing things off midway and especially in Megh's, in Megh's contest, which went crazy for a number of different reasons and I've got this post on the Facebook page right?
And it's a super catchy headline. I mean it's you know the greatest marketing tactic of 2019. I have this screenshot so I'll read it.
You decide: one artist, 11 days, one Facebook post, one messenger bot, 35,000 people reached, 1367 comments on a Facebook post, 391 shares, 290 new Facebook fans, 298 new Instagram followers, 300 new email subscribers, 567 messenger subscribers, 0 dollars in ads spend, right? Totally playing it up. Totally hyping up the headline. And I was actually really quite pleased at the time when I did it like that was amazing results for a marketing campaign and then somebody jumps right onto the post and leaves me a comment and was like yeah great, these numbers are fantastic, amazing work, what about the sales?
Did she sell anything?
And that was the comment.
And the contest wasn't even over at that time and you know the sale always comes at the end of it, but I read that comment and as is human nature what was my first response? I was like you snarky little son of a like what are you kidding me? You look at these numbers? Like look at these numbers I put up these are massive numbers. You're asking me did she sell anything? Are you serious with that question? I was fried out a little bit. And naturally so that's just human nature right?
To get defensive about it. Well I got over it. I took a deep breath, got over myself, got over my initial reaction and I thought about his question, which was totally and completely a valid one and I was actually you know somewhat profoundly sad after I took a look at it and I read it because he doesn't get it. In the fact, most don't get it. Most don't get it. The question is completely wrong. It's completely off and let me explain what does he not get, what is it that he doesn't get and in order to you know highlight it let me tell you this story. And let me pick from one of my original questions up top. Let's say we're talking about our marketing and we're talking about for the first time we're going to go and do this show circuit. And let's say my buddy Tim and I, we're both landscape photographers let's just say, and we're going to decide this spring summer, it's spring now, summer's coming, we're going to go do the show circuit. So we both buy booths, we both reserve our spaces. We both get all of the initial inventory prepared. We pick what shows we want to go to. We start getting everything ready. We get our fish bowls and our print giveaway signs and everything. I mean we're really going to do this thing proper. We're hitting that art circuit. And then, off we go, we're out and doing it. But after a show one weekend let's say both Tim and I are exhausted from being on our feet all day long Saturday and Sunday, two days in a row, so we go hit a bar to have a couple of drinks, wind down and talk about things. And Tim is clearly, visibly worried. It was a bad show.
There was just not that much traffic to this one. We sold almost nothing. Both of us combined. And only really captured you know, let's just say, a decent amount of you know contacts. That's all we got out of it. The show did not pencil at all in Tim's eyes. And I hear Tim's story, it's one I've heard so many times before, I take a deep and satisfying pull from my IPA and I smile and you know Tim can't figure it out. He looks at me incredulously. I don't know what you're smiling about Patrick we both just paid dollars to stand on our feet all day and get a sunburn, be away from our families to be exhausted all to lose money. You're smiling, are you crazy or what? You know and Tim, just like the guy who left the Facebook comment just doesn't completely understand the game. He doesn't understand it. He doesn't get it. The smart marketer can actually afford to lose money on his customer acquisition cost.
I'll say it again the smart marketer can actually afford to lose money on his customer acquisition cost. And he's like what? Wait? What? How is that even possible? And it's, you know, he can do this because he understands that he's going to make it over the course of the coming months and even yes, years, in additional sales to these folks. Because of the marketing they're going to do after the fact. They have a plan, they have a strategy, they have the tactics in place to continue to market in perpetuity to the attention to the people that they're bringing in and it's such an important concept.
The smart marketer, we will always be able to pay more to acquire a customer than our competitors can because we know what to do after the fact. We know what to do after we acquire the leads and potential customers and new customers. And I'll always be able to pay more than Tim. I always just will. After we get home from the shows what does Tim do? Tim gets going and focused on creating more photography. He ignores the potential customers and leads he's just acquired. He's not emailing them. Not just right after the show, but all year long. He's not sending updates. He's not nurturing their attention throughout the year.
Instead, he's insuring that him and his art and photography will be out of his customers perspective minds by the time that customer is ready to make a purchase or by the time Q4 rolls around and Tim decides to send his one email all year saying hey, 50% off the whole store, 24 hours to buy it right now. Who's this Tim? I don't even remember this guy. Tim? You know or when the potential customer that was on his list just got engaged and moved into a big new house with extremely naked walls and wants to fix it. Tim is no longer top of mind. He's just not. Not me though, right? Not me and not you either, no. As soon as that show ends, the show circuit, all of the leads I captured are getting put right into a follow up email sequence. I'm thanking them for checking me out. I'm asking them to follow me on my various different social profiles. They're getting a postcard from me in the mail. Super cheap and easy to do by the way. And they're going to see me weekly throughout the rest of they year. The year after that and the year after that. I am going to do everything I can. I have a plan in place to ensure that I will forever be of top of mind, in mind, leads, potential customers, and in customers' minds.
And that's what it is and it's so incredibly important. It's so incredibly important. It's like as a result of that activity on my part, that strategy, that plan, that I can afford to lose money on my customer acquisition cost where Tim can't. Now don't misunderstand. Just because I can afford does not mean I'm aiming to lose money on my customer acquisition cost. But when it happens and it will, I need to know I'm still okay because I'm going to pick up the revenue over the course of the year and years to come. That I can you know that I can afford to lose on some, break even on others, profit widely on a few, but if you blend them all together, all of your customer acquisition costs are all going to go into the same bathtub. And that's just such an important concept.
You know as we just recently wrapped up these contests with the three Art Storefronts customers, I told each of them individually, like congrats, you have a ton of new attention in multiple different venues. Now, all three of those folks, Megh, John, and Mathieu, are super active and confident marketers in terms of social media. They don't ignore those channels. They all could get a little bit better admittedly at email, but we're working on that, but they're great on the social channels. But I said to all three of them, I gave them this exact rant and I was like look, you've just built up these big messenger subscriber lists, if you really want to get some ROI out of this exercise, it's not over.
It's not over when the contest ends and you get all of this action and you get all of these sales.
It just begins the next day. You have to have a strategy for contacting these people week in, week out, and keeping you and your art top of mind. Top of mind. It's just starting. You're just getting started. So when I think back to that comment on the post I'm really somewhat sad. When I said profound sense of sadness, the guy who left the comment looks at a marketing operation, and a lot of people do, look at marketing overall as a completely binary exercise. It's ones and zeros. Did I put one dollar into this machine and did five dollars come back out? If so, it's worth my time. If not, it's not. And so that's how he thinks about it, right? Like hey, Patrick, fantastic results, good for you you did so great with the likes and the comments and the shares, and the messenger subscribers, holy are you a marketer, but did she sell anything? Did she sell anything immediately? What were the sales? In his mind it's binary, right?
That's it. Did I put dollars in? Did dollars instantaneously come out? If so, it's worth my time.
If not, I'm not doing it, it's not worth it, it's not worth my time, right? Like that's the way that he thinks about it. And you know it's so funny because I was listening I was listening to another podcast right before I recorded this, right before I had this episode on my mind, it sort of inspired me a little bit too. And this guy made an analogy and he was talking about paid traffic specifically just buying ads I think on Google was his analogy.
But he's like think about customer acquisition cost, right? How much it costs to acquire a potential customer as a bulls eye in the middle of an archery target, right? And what is an archery target? It's a series of concentric circles forming a circle, right? And let's just say, dead center of that archery target is the one dollar in and the five dollars out, meaning you spend one dollar on your ad you get five dollars out. But let's be honest really the bulls eye should be like 1 dollar and 50,000 dollars out or a million dollars out. But let's just keep it simple. That first target is one dollar in and five dollars out, okay? As you go to each concentric circle, the ROI gets a little bit worse, gets a little bit worse, gets a little bit worse, let's say all the way to the middle where it's one dollar in and one dollar out. And then it goes up, up, up. Then you're starting to lose money on each of those rungs. Well that guy that left the comment, he's out there all day long just trying to hit bull eyes. That's the only winning in his world is just with the bulls eye. I find this thing where I can fire my arrow and my arrow is one dollar and instantaneously five dollars come back. Well guess what, if you're shooting a whole bunch of arrows at an archery target, it stands to reason you're not going to be hitting the bulls eye all that often.
That's a pretty small piece of land. But if you expand out, you expand out on that target all of a sudden if you're willing and you have the capacity to be able to break even every once in awhile lose a couple of dollars and send the arrows all over that target and still be acquiring customers, potential customers and leads and having that be acceptable then you're adding all of these potential leads into your bucket, right? That guy is just shooting one to one. He can only hit the center. Only hit the bulls eye. And I think that's a fantastic analogy. You know at Art Storefronts, we love telling the Wyland story, right? And Wyland I guess what would you call him as a brand?
The aquatic artist, the whale guy, the fish guy? I mean however you want to think of him. But I think he said in his book that over his career his stats point to the fact that an average customer for him, over their lifetime, will end up buying seven pieces from him. Seven. So he has seven opportunities of varying different costs you know it could be all prints, it could be originals, it could be combinations in between, but seven is the average. And that's just amazing. He's amazing, right? And it really points to the reason in my estimation, why it's very shortsighted to only think of your marketing efforts in terms of a one to one ROI. It's not always going to work like that. So think of the archery target and the fact that you're going to be taking shots with your marketing that are going to hit all over the board.
Yes, some bull eyes, but lots of not bull eyes. And some potential customers are going to be coming into your world you know if you're taking these shots everywhere and you have the risk tolerance because you're doing your follow up marketing, you're going to be drawing a bunch of customers in. Potentially customers that will buy seven pieces of yours you know or maybe five pieces of yours throughout their career. It's an amazing thing to think about. It's an amazing thing to think about. And I've been at this long enough now in marketing generally and art marketing specifically to see it play out time and time and time again, especially now.
Like you know Art Storefronts is maturing as a platform and we've had some customers that are on, they've been able to see and look at their stats and see their businesses grow over years three, four, or five now, even. And you know if you're an artist that's focused or a photographer that's focused on having a fruitful and longterm career, it's just such an important piece of perspective. It's so important. You need to think about yes, all these ways of acquiring new attention, fans, followers, email, messenger subscribers, whatever.
But then what are you going to do after the fact to continue to market to them? What are you going to do in the days and the months and the weeks after the fact to continue to market to them? Because that's what makes all the difference. That's what makes going through the motions of marketing yourself in the first time worth it. That is how a smart marketer actually, constantly, makes money from all of their efforts because you can't do one without the other. You just can't do one without the other. You stay at it, you market to these folks when you acquire them, you keep yourself top of mind, you have your sales when they're warranted, and your art business is going to continue to grow year over year over year.
It's really it's like you keep acquiring new attention, emails, and relationships and it's sort of like filling up a savings account with compound interest. You don't know when it will pay exactly. But you know if you continue filling it up and you continue marketing to it, the rest is just going to take care of itself. It's going to take care of itself.
So as we reboot the show, we plan on coming with a bunch of great content on how you can go about just that. How you can make noise and acquire attention in the first place and then continue to make noise and keep the attention you do have engaged.
You do that and the score is going to take care of itself. It just is. You're going to have a striving and growing art or photography business.
So on that note, thanks for listening and as always, have a great day.
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Brought To You By Art Storefronts
We help artists & photographers open and run their own art gallery business online.