Last week we received an order for four small artworks through our website. I’m always curious about how online buyers are finding us, so I did a little detective work. I soon discovered that this buyer wasn’t random – he and his wife had made a purchase from our gallery almost two years ago, and we hadn’t heard from him since.
This kind of sale happens with some frequency, but it’s outside what I think of as the normal pattern for our art buyers. Typically, when we sell multiple pieces to a collector, we end up making most of those sales in the first three to eight months after our initial contact. Many buyers get excited by the art buying process and go on a bit of a binge after making their initial purchase.
This pattern means that it makes a lot of sense for us to concentrate our art marketing efforts on recent buyers, and this is exactly what we do. However, as our recent internet sale demonstrates, it’s also important not to forget about your past buyers, even if they haven’t been in contact or made a purchase for some time.
Some artists and galleries may feel reluctant to make contact with former buyers. They feel embarrassed that they haven’t followed up or stayed in contact like they should have. They worry that the buyer might not remember them, or might feel slighted by the lack of contact. To avoid this, and to have your best shot at making sales on a continuing basis, it’s critical that you develop a system to keep track of your buyers and commit to be in touch with frequency – I would suggest that you send out images of new work and updates on your doings about every month-six weeks.
But what if you’ve been lax in your contact with your buyers? What if they haven’t heard from you in months, or even years? Is all lost?
Not at all. It’s never too late to get back in touch with your past buyers.
I would suggest that you downplay the time that has passed since you were last in touch. Send out a note or an email to all of your past clients updating them on your career and recent work. Include images of recent pieces, and a photo of yourself (in a studio or on location, for example) to jog their memory.
You can send out personalized notes if your list of buyers is small, and if you do, reference the artwork that they purchased. You could say something like “I was just thinking about the piece you purchased [then reference it by its title] and wanted to get in touch and let you know what I’ve been up to.”
Now you can begin regular contact with the client to keep your work in front of them. You may not get any response from your first contact – don’t let that dissuade you from continued contact. You never know when a buyer will be in the mood to purchase again, and when they are, you want them to think of you!
Are Sales to Past Buyers Important to You?
What has your experience been marketing your work to past buyers? Are you good at it? What’s the longest period of time you’ve experienced between a buyer’s first purchase and their most recent? What did you do to generate that sale? Share your experiences, thoughts and questions in the comments below.
If you’ve had some buyers who’ve slipped through the cracks over the years, I would challenge you to reach out to them today and get back in touch following the guidelines mentioned above. Let us know how it goes!