027: The Art Show Playbook
In this episode, we talk about coping with change in your marketing strategy, staying focused on where the attention is, and whether or not artists need websites.
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Coming up on today's edition of the Art Marketing Podcast, we're going to cover the complete art show/festival/fair playbook, what to do before, during, and after your upcoming show to get the best possible ROI imaginable from your efforts. So, it is April 24th as I record this. Thanks for being here. Patrick, Art Marketing Podcast. Show season is upon us. Spring has sprung. Just recently ran a poll with all the Art Storefronts customers. Also sent it out to the entire email list. I was really curious to see actually what percentage of the audience are going to shows and how many shows they're going to.
I got 46% of people are going to do one to three shows this season, 13% are going to do three to five shows, 26% are going to do five to 10, and 13% were going to do 10+. Now, I think that was probably mostly the people that are doing shows that responded to that, so not everybody is, but remains easy to say that going to shows and selling art at shows is a big, big part of how many of you make your sales throughout the year. So, I get also that people have strong feelings about shows.
Some love them, greatest thing since sliced bread. Some people are like, "Yes, I still do a few because they're good ROI and it's great access to buyers, but they're not what they were." Some people are like, "Schlepping a booth, setting things up, sitting in the hot sun for eight hours a day, you're out of your mind." So, I get that, but what do we do here? We don't get emotional about it. We look at the opportunity that a show does present and we say, "Is it a good and cheap source of attention, one that provides proper ROI?" If it is, and we feel for quite a few people, it is, then it's worth evaluating and it's worth incorporating into your business.
We really do have some tremendous feedback from customers on how effectively they are not just selling, but also, especially building your audience and getting email lifts and growing your email lists. It's just a fantastic way to do that. So, that's how we look at it. So, we wanted to create this podcast to really just give you the start to finish, root to shoot, top to bottom playbook that we advise our customers run because, and as a side note, it really is a combination of a number of different playbooks that we put out over the course of this podcast and then that Art Storefronts has put out as a business.
You combine these babies together and let me tell you, it will turn you into a cactus in the Atacama Desert, which is in Chile. Saw that on Planet Earth. Why a cactus? Because that thing can sit in the ground and take advantage of every single solitary bit of moisture that comes into its ecosystem and not just survive, thrive. My argument, so too must the intelligent show goer be. You've got to be like a cactus, right?
The amount of time, energy, effort, hours of your day that you're going to spend going to that show, exhibiting, printing everything out, getting everything hung, setting it all up, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of work. So, you really do want to get the most ROI possible out of all those efforts. No, I'm not an artist. No, I've not sat in an art booth, but I have sat in plenty of trade show booths. I know what your feet feel like after a day of being on them all day. The dogs are barking.
So, this podcast is our best effort to equip you to really be able to just knock it out of the park. To do that, we've broken it up into what you do pre-show, what you do during the show, I've got some post-show extra credit thrown in, I've got the post-show, and then what you do after the fact if you've made a sale. So, let's dive in and start right with the pre-show. What's the big idea here?
The most important thing, and again, this just kills me because I've talked to so many artists that have been painting or exhibiting, excuse me, or have been photographers for 20 years and gone to shows and not built an email list, which just, it breaks your heart because all those shows over all those years and so many opportunities to not just have a 10,000 person list. You want to have a 100,000 person list.
So, the idea pre-show is that you're going to be running a print/whatever giveaway/raffle using a fishbowl and/or a clipboard. We'll get into that in a second. It's a free giveaway. All they have to do to enter the contest is give out their contact information. It's not technically a free giveaway, not anymore than your Gmail account is free. Your Gmail account is not free. You pay with little micropayments of information to Google that they use to sell you ads. In this case, it gives you the opportunity to potentially market to these people. So, you're not giving it away for free.
So, what you need to do is you need to get your sign in order, step one, pre-show, get your sign in order, get your fishbowl/bucket in order, or your fishbowl and bucket and clipboard. I personally like the clipboard because it doesn't run out of batteries and need a wifi connection and it just sits there all day. Or if you are somebody that has good data and has a good data connection, a 3G, 4G, whatever, 5G when it comes equipped, iPad, you can use that or tablet of any kind.
I personally, if I was going to do it, I would have bucket and clipboard so that they could do either one. I'll get into that for a second, but I also like that they can just throw a business card in as they walk by and don't have to fill anything out. So, that's nice. I've got a photo because it helps to articulate this and I'm going to put in the show notes, which is a photo of my buddy, this guy Randy Hufford, he's a photographer out in Maui. He sent this to me. So, you can look at his photo. In his photo, he's got a nice little chair, he's got a big silver bucket that you'd put champagne in. It's kind of decorative, though. Then he's got his big sign.
So, in his, he uses some generic language. Let me just read his. So, his says, "Big old free. Randyhuffordart.com. Free art canvas giveaway. Drop your business card or register to win." So, he's got the "or". So, I think in his case, he was doing register to win by entering your information in my iPad, I think, is I think is how he did it. So, it doesn't really matter how you operate this bit of trade craft. The important thing is the free giveaway portion and what is tailored to your art. So, in many cases, it's a print. If you're original only person, then figure out t-shirt, a coffee mug, or some sort of tchotchke. But make something cool that you can give away and you want to capture their information.
So, again, I tell you what I would love to do, personally, I would have a bucket, I would have a clipboard, I would offer them the ability of either or, an I would probably festoon balloons onto the corner of the the sign. If you have a most popular piece of art, I would personally, if you can get away with it, would hang whatever it is that you're giving it away and have it looking awesome. If it's just a print, you can say print, but that doesn't mean you can't hang the finished piece, whether it's a stretched canvas or whether it's a metal print, whatever it is. I love the thought of that.
Then if you look at this photo in the show notes after the fact, one of the interesting things that Randy puts on his sign, which I actually love, is he's got disclaimer sized language at the bottom and it says, "You do not need to be present to win. I think that can really help, right? But your job with this is to have it on the front of your booth and have it there that people can fill it out, regardless if you're there or not. If you're back in the booth talking to somebody else, they can come by, be busy, throw the card in there, fill out the clipboard. Again, anything that you can do to attract even more attention is well worth it.
I mentioned the balloon analogy. If I sold art of architectural sites in Mexico, I would try to get a mariachi band to play during the peak hours and maybe even a guy with bottle of tequila and a whistle. Point of it is feel free to get creative within the bounds of what's allowed at the show to try and draw people's eyes, attentions to your booth, to this thing, and have it be a lightning rod. A bonus variation that I could throw out is have you ever been to a coffee shop and these coffee shop hipsters, they always intend to have some sort of elaborate tip jar scenario. I saw one recently, which was the "401k for us employees" jar.
But one of the things that I loved that I think was really creative is have you ever been into one where they put a jar on the left and a jar on the right and you're supposed to tip your answer? On the left, it might say 2Pac and it might say Biggie on the right or Star Wars or Star Trek. Vote with your tip jar, right? Or if you're a beer guy, Corona or Pacifico? I'm staying in Mexico right now. Point being, you can get creative too. If you're a landscape photographer and you have some amazing photos of the beach and you have some amazing photos of the desert, you could put on the left side of the booth, "The beach or the desert? Vote. Enter to win a free print." Boom, right? You can get creative. That's a bonus variation to do it.
I would literally hang a giant metal print of whatever they're going to win of the beach on the left hand side. I would say, "Which do you prefer? Da, da, da?" Then I would put an "or" sign in the middle and then I would hang the other big sign on the right hand side of the booth and say, "Or desert? Vote with your business card or email to enter to win," right? You could do something like that. The how you go about doing it is not important. Use your creativity. You're artists. You guys are doggone creative. But come up with a way where they can enter it very, very easily.
Again, it's important to stress, you're normally a one man show or a one woman show in that booth, you're going to get stuck in conversations, the rush is always going to happen, so it is critical that I can come by, see something that I like, and as easily as throw a business card in or write my name down on the clipboard and keep moving on so that you have that opportunity to capture their attention, right? So, that's get ready for the show, that's how you're going to get ready. You're going to have all that ready to go, ready to roll, and everybody's situation's a little bit different with the booths, but that's where it starts.
During the show, you're going to run your free print giveaway and as a quick disclaimer, some people have told me, some artists in our group, they're like, "Look. At this show, it's a no-go. You can't do any giveaways. They're not going to allow us to do it." Well, put something out that says, "Join my email list." You got to get creative. You got to give it a shot, whatever you do. But again, what's critical at the show is that if you can, you have this going on and not only is it catching people's attention, but it's getting them to know you, it's a little fun, they're gambling. Everybody loves winning free stuff, right? Okay, great.
So, you've now been at the show, you've got this whole thing set up, you're doing great, you're having conversations, everybody that comes in, even if you don't get them to fill out anything or you just shook hands, "Hey, oh, Mary, by the way, glad you liked the stuff. It was great seeing you guys today. By the way, be sure to enter on the way out," right? So, you want to encourage people and be roping people in the entire time. It goes without saying. You are the digital version of a giant popup on the website. Your job is to pop up in front of everybody. It's like, "Give me your email address," because that's what you want. You want to keep the relationship going.
So, I think that's an important mindset thing to understand. Encourage absolutely everybody to enter. If you're a husband and wife team or a two man show, have somebody out there and stand next to it. "Oh, do you like what you're seeing?" You don't have to harass them, but "Oh, you like what you're seeing? You know what? Be sure to stop, throw a card, we're giving a print contest, it's going to end next Tuesday," and tell them whenever it ends, right? That's just a great, great way to do it.
Now, I would be remiss to say, because this is a killer new feature that we came up with that I love that should be part of the playbook, and the good news is despite the fact it's an Art Storefronts feature, yes, I know most of you are not customers and most of you do not have it, that's okay. You could easily build this with some Photoshop wizardry and have your own tablet. But what we have is, and this is barcode based, which makes it really, really cool, so what we're doing is we're encouraging our customers to put a little placard, or if it's a print, they can even print it on there for just display purposes, of a little barcode in the corner of each individual print, or again, if it's original, then we'd just put a little card down there.
What it allows you to do, or you could even do it from a sheet, but the bottom line is we have this feature where every single solitary work of art that we have, that our customers have in their store, there is a unique barcode for each one of those. What they can do is they can walk up to the show and let's just say Cecilia and Raul, I'm going to give you an example because it'll make it easier, Cecilia and Raul are sitting in the booth and they're looking at a piece of art, right? In the corner of the piece of the art, there is the barcode.
You can walk up with your iPad, you could do it with a phone too, but obviously, if you want it a little bit bigger, an iPad's ideal. If you've got a good wifi or wireless connection at the show, you can scan the barcode and that takes that piece of work and instantaneously opens up that piece of artwork on the wall preview. The wall preview is our sexy sizzle tool where it shows the artwork in a bunch of different frames, you can change the frames, change the wall colors, everything else. You can do that.
That point is that you can hand the tablet experience to the person that is looking at the art that they really feel like they're having a connection with it, they're looking at it, they're trying to visualize, you want to get them to the next level, boom. You can just hand them the tablet or you could take the tablet, you scan it, you hand it to them, you say, "Here's what it would look like on a wall if you want to play with it," and then you just let them play with it for a little second or you can do it like, "Oh, what color are your walls? You're wall's yellow? Okay, great. Let me show you what yellow looks like. Oh, they're green? Let me show you what green looks like. Oh, you like that kind of frame?" Then you can just switch through it.
So, really cool way to be able to sell that way too. If you're not ever going to be an Art Storefronts customers, you're not even looking at our software, you could totally do this where you just make some killer mock-ups and throw the thing on a frame or on a wall, whatever, and just do it for each one. You might have to spend some time navigating or figuring out a system, but it really helps to have something that just pushes them over the edge. So, cool feature. I'll leave a post about it in the show notes. I just wanted to mention it.
But that's a great way to do some sales, to actively sell in the booth. To be honest, we should probably have an entire episode on just selling in the booth because there's so many cool things that you can gauge in there. But neither here nor there. Now I want to talk, I'm a marketer, let me talk about the post-show extra credit. This is so legit. No one does this. Everyone thinks it's too much work. Erroneous. Absolutely erroneous. It's not too much work. Let me explain what it is.
So, you're running a contest, you're gathering email addresses, they've stopped by your booth. That's as far as we can go right now. Some point in time in the future, and we'll get to timing in a second, you're going to email everybody and say who won the contest, okay? But what are you doing in that time in between, right? So, let's say the show's Saturday, Sunday and you're going to announce the winner to the contest on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday, right, which is what I recommend. I like doing it short and sweet, but we'll get to that in a second.
What I do, what I do, and this is so easy to do, it's so easy, you take all of the emails that you gather, you take all of the business cards that you gather, and by the way, if I've got some downtime in the booth, I'm just knocking this work out when I'm in the booth. If I'm husband and wifey team and/or husband and girlfriend or girlfriend and boyfriend, whatever the case may be, I'm having my significant other knock this out during the course of the day so I can get it going right away.
I'm taking that contact information. If it's an email address, just an email address. If it's a business card, this is important because on the business card, you can take first name, last name, email address, address, and phone number, and I'm putting all of that into Facebook and I'm creating an audience. Why would I want to do that? I would want to do that so that I can show them ads before I even start announcing the contest because I want to move them down the line. I want them to get just another sensation of what my art looks like.
So, as a side note, by the way, before I go too far because I realized I had this asset in place, I've got a video that I created that shows you all the various different parameters that you can upload into Facebook, such that Facebook will match to their profile and you can show them ads. It's way more sophisticated than you think it is. It's not just an email address. Everyone thinks it's just an email address. Everyone thinks if you don't have anything other than the email address, it's not going to work. All of that is not true. I've matched people just by first name, address, and phone number. I've matched people just by first name, last name, and address, which is amazing.
So, you can put all of this information into Facebook, Facebook will create an audience, and you're going to show them an ad. Why? Why is this amazing? It's amazing, especially the quicker you can do it. But it doesn't matter if you are doing it day of or you're doing it after the fact. Once you get all that information digitally, this whole process takes two seconds because what I do is I literally create a post of my most famous work, it can be me standing next to it at the show or it can just be my most famous work, something that they're going to know is clearly you, but I'm putting out my biggest and my best.
I'm choosing these people as an audience and I'm showing them ads until the contest ends. Let me tell you. How much does this cost? You could get this done for 10 bucks. You can get this done for five to 25 bucks. Now, a lot of you are going to be at a show that you're only going to get five or 10 or 15 or 25 or 35, some small number of people, right? So, when you take this small number of people, it's not going to be a big enough audience for Facebook to let you show ads to. Here's what I do in that situation. I just start combining it with whatever other audience I have
I can combine it with my existing email list or I can combine it with people that like my page. I combine it until I have a big enough audience. Literally, you can make the post before you even go to the show, you make a post, and this is extra credit, but I'm really going on a rant on this because I love it. You make a post on your Facebook page before you go to the show, after, whenever, and you put this audience in, you press boost, you do it to this audience for 10 or 15 or 20 bucks, and you set it and forget it.
Now, what's amazing about that is literally, if you're sitting there all day. I'm sophisticated, obviously. I would have someone that are sitting all day. The minute that their contact information came in and they left, a few minutes later, they would be in my audience and they would start seeing ads. They would be walking around the rest of the show, they would stop to get a beer or a funnel cake or [inaudible 00:18:08] whatever they're doing and they would check Instagram or Facebook and they would see my ad, right? So, if you can do it day of, obviously a lot of you can't. I get it. That's amazing. If you can't do it until after the show, totally fine.
But this step of getting all of their contact information into Facebook, creating an audience, and showing them an ad before you even announce the contest winner is so worth it. It's so worth it. It's a small step. It sounds overwhelming for you that have never done it, but for those that have run Facebook ads or some portion, you're probably like, "Oh, yeah. I have an idea how that would all work, how that would all go down. I could pull that off." You do that and it's just an amazing, amazing extra credit step.
So, if you can do that, I want to throw that out there. I realize that's some trade craft, but it's quite amazing. So, I would do that. Just to use an example to keep it and then pivot, let's just say the show goes Saturday or Sunday. Okay, you're busy. I get it. You're going to announce the contest winner on Tuesday or Wednesday. I would go home Sunday night, yes, you're tired, I know, your feet are killing you, put all the information in, instantaneously start showing them an ad. It doesn't even really matter what the ad is either as long as it's your art and they recognize it with your name. It's another little poke before we announce who the winner is.
Now let's get into the post-show, what you're going to do after the fact. I've covered this in depth in a previous episode entitled, I'm not even sure what it's entitled. I think we just call it the fishbowl episode. I'll include it in the show notes, but briefly, the idea is you're going to email all of these people, you're going to thank them profusely for entering in your contest, and you're going to announce the winner, and then you're going to tell everybody else that they get a special discount because you are so glad they entered.
"Hey, Tim." I'm doing my air quotes here. Air quotes, "Hey, Tim. As a way of saying thanks for entering, just wanted to offer a one time show only discount. So, thank you so much for entering the contest. Go ahead. If you like, you can take 20% off storewide for the next 48 hours." I like to the keep the expiration on this one short. You can do 24, 48, 72. My advice, keep it short. "Take 20% off storewide for the next 48 hours. If you did see something you liked, I just wanted to give you the opportunity to get it at a discount and I really appreciate you coming by and seeing my both." End quote. Something along those lines, and that's the play.
So, one person won, you announce who they are. The real key is giving everyone else that came, that saw, that was maybe thinking about it, the wife and the husband, the wife were talking about it. They got home, "Well, what what'd you think about that thing?" Boom. Here's a coupon. You give them the opportunity to potentially buy it at a discount. It's tremendous. Very, very few people do this and it really, really, really just works. Again, I'm going to link the original fishbowl episode in the show notes here and you'll be able to get it. So, that's the post-show trade craft. After the show, though, after the show, we get into one episode I just recorded last, which was "So, You Made a Sale, Congrats, What's Next".
The asking for an additional sale after the first sale, nobody ever does this either ever. So few. So, you combine this playbook, and quickly, for those that have not heard the episode previous, you need to. It's a good one. I walk you through all the steps on how to know when to ask for another sale after you've made the initial sale. If not ask for a sale, ask for a review. It's just a great little piece of trade craft that once you get in the habit of doing it, you can literally do it every single solitary time. Cheesy, yes, but you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. You will get an additional sale sometimes if you ask for it after the fact.
So, if you do make a show, a sales show, a show at the sale, whatever I'm saying, then it's a great opportunity to ask for another one. So, when you look at that, when you sum all of those piece up, contrast some of that or all of that, especially all of that, with what you've normally done at shows previous, what most people normally do at shows previous. You think the work is done once you show up to the show and leave and, "Hey, I had some great conversations. I wrote down their name, wrote down some email addresses, and the people that bought in my little address book and I really feel good about it. I told them I'd see them next year."
No. No. Let everybody else do that. You got to win. You got to get the ROI. Your dogs are barking. Your feet are hurting. You need a cold beer, then you need to run the playbook. So, you got to be a cactus. You got to be a cactus. Who are you going to be? Are you going to sit there rubbing your feet complaining? Are you going to be a cactus? Your friends and your fellow exhibitors are going to be in that department, but not you. You're going to go for the jugular and I think if you run each of these little ones, it will work every single solitary time. It just is so effective.
When you're at a further point, when you're running and you're going to these shows and you're going out there, two, three, four additional sales makes a significant difference, and not just that. The people that you end up making these sales to are far more likely to buy again in the future. So, you encourage, you get those sales, you ask for them. Two or three or four can literally make the difference, sometimes especially with you guys that sell originals that are expensive. One sale makes all the difference between whether or not you break even or don't break even.
For some, one big sale might cover the entire show season and you don't want to let that buyer walk out the door. So, all of that, all of that is what that's been designed for. Now, I think that sums it up. I hope you liked that episode. I hope you liked the trade craft and all of that. Now, I want to tease something else that I have coming up because I wanted to include it in this episode, but I felt that it was strong enough, I'm going to include it in my own episode. Anybody that's been listening knows I am just over the moon on messenger bots, chat bots in general, specifically Facebook Messenger.
So, they have this new feature and I think I was doing a ... I can't remember if it was last week or the week before, but I did a Facebook Live broadcast where I did a play on Fat Bastard and, "Get in my belly," but, "Get in my chat bot." I did the top 10 ways to get people in your chat bot. One of the ways, and by the way, I'll include that thing in the show notes too, it's actually pretty awesome if you're interested in Facebook Messenger marketing. Pro tip, 100% of you should be.
So, one of the ways that you can get into the chat bot is Facebook has their own QR code. So, anybody that has a Facebook Messenger bot on the platform, with ManyChat, I should say ManyChat, you can put a QR code, you scan the QR code, boom, you're instantaneously thrown into a messenger bot conversation. If you haven't seen this work, literally on the Facebook Live, I did it live with my phone and it is so robust and so snappy. So, whilst it's completely new, you're going to start seeing this pop up everywhere because it's so crazy, it's so efficient, and then you can custom design a killer conversation after the fact.
So, I thought that's really cool, nobody's talking about that, I'm going to get way ahead of the curve, this is what I do, I'm going to test this out with some customers, and come up with a playbook. So, I'm going to release that playbook soon and this is another additional step that you can take that I think, I don't know, it's really, really interesting. I think you guys will be blown away when you see it. So, that episode is coming up. Might even be the next one or the one after that. But I wanted to add that in there.
But either way, we want to arm you to the teeth, as it were, for the upcoming show season. We've got just a tremendous amount of content coming down the pike and already on the site. So, to access any of that, to access the show notes, to get all of the links, as well as have killer conversation, all you have to do is pull out Facebook Messenger on your phone, I know all of you have it, the entire world has the app, for the most part, search Art Storefronts, click Get Started, and on the podcast menu in there, you will see just a ton, a ton of great stuff as well get all the show notes and everything else for this episode. As always, have a fantastic day and thanks for listening.
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We help artists & photographers open and run their own art gallery business online.