Do you ever feel like all the advice out there is for bigger businesses – people who own businesses with employees, people who hire an accountant for their taxes, people who make enough revenue that they can reinvest hundreds or thousands of dollars in their business… not little you just struggling to find a new collector and hoping to actually make a profit this year.
It’s frustrating to take in all this advice and not be able to figure out how it fits into your small (tiny, miniature, microscopic) business that you’re not even sure you’re ready to call a “business” yet.
But don’t hide from the advice. Surprisingly a lot of these ‘big business’ strategies can be adapted to small art businesses and I try to present them to you here on my blog. But I do realize I don’t often talk about what I’m doing – breaking down a ‘big business’ concept and re-engineering it for what you’re going through trying to sell your art, one piece at a time.
Today I want to focus on the big business strategy of “segmenting” and how you can make that happen in your ‘baby business’ (I like that term. It’s cute, right?).
What is Segmenting?
In a nutshell, segmenting is simply categorizing your potential customers.
Nowadays, this usually refers to your email subscribers. Because that’s how most people keep their potential customers – in a big email database.
If you’re not already using an official email marketing provider, there are like 10 reasons why you should be. But this post isn’t about that, so just do yourself a favor and pop over to my favorite, Mad Mimi, and sign up for a free account, click Add Things and get the Drips add-on, and start getting your emails in order. Then come back and read the rest of this article.
Anyway, what I’m going to explain now is how to actually adapt the concept of segmentation to work for your art business so that you sell more art.
Some of this is going to need to be thought out through your own email system because they don’t all work the same way. So before you throw out a strategy, consider how you might be able to make it happen in your own email marketing provider.
The first is I think the most directly helpful to your audience.
Geography. Add people to two separate lists: locals and non-locals. (Or this may be a tagging system in your email marketing provider.) This is so key for your potential customers because they don’t want to get the big invitation email to your latest local exhibition if they don’t live anywhere near you. It’s obnoxious and it’s a quick way to get lots of unsubscribes.
With the two-list system, you can send emails that are phrased and engineered better for your local customers – like sending when you know everyone’s on a lunch break or just got home from work. And you can make sure they get the info about the local happenings without bothering the others.
You can also split people up by whether they’ve purchased or not.
And I encourage you to set it up so that people can be in multiple segments. So you might have a local who hasn’t purchased or a non-local who has, etc.
Moreover, you could even create segments for what type of product they bought (original, print, stationery, etc.) if you can see that being helpful for the way you like to market or if you have very different types of customers who purchase your originals than those who purchase your prints.
You can send to your previous customers special deals or invitations to view your newest piece first… or it can be a reference so you can check over the list of emails and pick out people to reconnect with and see if they’re ready to buy more art.
For the people who haven’t purchased, you can send them offers for lower-priced art to help them feel comfortable making that first purchase. Or you could give them a money-back guarantee or a bonus on a purchase to encourage them to feel good about it and make that leap.
Remember it’s a much bigger leap for your not-yet-customers to buy from you than it is from those who have already purchased from you before.
With these two types of segmenting, you can carefully use discounts to encourage people in a particular way. A 25% off coupon is probably going to feel weird to people who have already bought from you. They’re going to feel like the art is cheapened a little and they might be disappointed that the last piece they bought from you was “too expensive”.
But a 25% off coupon sent to people who haven’t purchased from you? It’s going to feel like an awesome chance to finally get one of your pieces!
And you could offer a free delivery or free hanging coupon to your locals, or even a discount if they come down to your event in person.
You can also segment by the subject matter, series, or style that they are interested in.
This takes a little more work because you need to be watching not just what they purchase (because you don’t know anything if they haven’t purchased) but also what brought them to you in the first place.
Did they click from a particular picture on social media? Did they sign up for your email list using the sidebar on a blog post about your newest floral piece, not a portrait? Or have you noticed that they always click on certain types of images in your emails, not others (yet another reason to use a proper email marketing provider – you can see what links and images they click on)?
And one last idea!
Consider segmenting people who open all the emails from the people who never open emails. If you notice there are people who don’t open your newsletters or other emails time after time after time, they can go in a special bucket which you use to send a re-engagement email.
That email subject line can be like “still want to hear from me?” or “you’ve dropped off the face of the planet” or whatever. Something that catches their attention a bit and looks like it might not be a mass-email.
Then inside you can ask them if they want to stick around or get deleted off your list (so you have a more accurate idea of your potential customers) or just get them to connect with you again by replying and telling you what’s going on in their life.
You can also send less to the people who don’t open a lot, so they feel less pressured to open each email and actually more excited to see the newest email from you in their inbox. And you can send more to the people who do open a lot, and maybe some special exclusive things as a thank you for being involved in your art career.
It takes a lot of work, but any time you can put someone in one of these segments, you’re giving yourself a better way to connect with that person.
It’s much more appealing to receive an email that is incredibly relevant than to receive something generic that goes out to everyone.