I like to talk about “the customer experience” a lot on this blog because it’s so crucial to your ability to to turn a customer into a loyal, repeat customer and/or a hopelessly-devoted customer who tells all their friends about your art, sending you lots of new customers and building your reputation while you sip mimosas by the pool (or, you know, slave over your newest work-in-progress in the studio).
So this is yet another post about building that experience for your customer so that purchasing your art isn’t a “transaction” where they walk away with a “product”, but rather an “experience” where they walk away emotionally changed, if only a little.
And it’s not as hard as most people think. The great part about that is that most people won’t be doing these little tweaks… so you’ll stand out from all the other artists, for your art AND for the way you treat the people who buy your art. Customers want to feel special, appreciated, and like the things they buy are more than “things”. They’re not looking for something to fill a blank wall. They’re looking for something that will brighten their day every time they walk by it.
So the tweak I’ve got for you today that will revolutionize the experience your customers have: followup.
Very few artists speak to their customers after the money is in their bank account. They’re all losing out on the prime time to turn the customer into a raving fan who either buys more later or tells all their friends about you… or both! So followup is super helpful to your bottom line and your ability to stop marketing for long enough to use the restroom. Just kidding. Sort of.
What’s in the followup?
Three emails are all you need. It makes a big impression that will impact your reputation and your bottom line in the long run.
Start this email with something simple like, “I’ve received your order and will be packaging it up tomorrow and heading to the post on Thursday.” Then you want to thank them. But make sure it’s genuine. A way that seems to work particularly well when you sell an original piece is to thank them not for the order but for giving the piece a loving home. It’s true, you want the money in your pocket, but you also love the work you make and you want someone else to love it too. When it finds it’s new home, you have some peace of mind knowing that it’s doing good work in the world, making someone (or a whole family!) happier every day or helping someone express their identity or giving someone more confidence when friends come to their home.
In The Mail
The next email to send is one that says their package has been shipped. Also offer an estimated date they should get the piece. But be very clear that it’s an estimate so you don’t create expectations where you have no control. To know when it should arrive, just ask during your trip to the postal counter or look up typical shipping time frames online. This is also the perfect time to give them a tracking number if the package has one.
Your final email is the most important because it shows that you care what happens after they get the piece. That the piece becoming a part of their home is just as important to you as the money in your bank account. Send this email a couple days after you anticipate they should have received the package. Start off by saying, “Have you gotten the piece in the mail yet? I just want to make sure it arrives safely.”
Then you want to ask them how they like it, if they have gotten it. This is also a great time to offer them a spot on your email list saying something like, “If you’d like to know when I have finished new pieces or if I have a sale, I can put you on the list to get emails. Just let me know.” And one of my favorite things to do, ask them if they can take a picture of the piece in their home or workspace once they’ve displayed it. Tell them you’d like to show off the photo on social media and maybe on your website. This is a great opportunity to give potential new customers a glimpse at how your art has fit into other people’s homes and lives. And it’s a subtle way to let people know that others have bought your work and been happy.
If the sale happened in person, not online, then the final email is the only one you need to send, leaving out the part asking if it got there and got there safely. That one email alone can make a customer feel like you care more than anyone else.
Don’t be surprised if your customer says something like, “Wow, I didn’t expect to hear from you!” or sounds otherwise shocked that you would followup. It’s very uncommon, and that’s why it makes such a big impression.
The last thing I want to talk about is what to do on a long-term basis. You should never bother your customers. Your goal is simply to maintain relationships with them, not to “market” to them. This is the most authentic way to keep yourself top-of-mind for them when they consider buying more art. And it’s the most effective – because no one likes to be sold to.
I recommend following up with a customer who isn’t on your email list no more than once a year. This followup should occur because something reminded you of them or you finished a piece that really, truly feels like it should belong to them. Your message should be short and really shouldn’t include anything about purchasing. For instance, “I just finished a new piece and it reminded me so much of the X piece you have that I had to share with you.” And either give them a link or attach the picture to the email. Simple, succinct, and thoughtful. That’s what you want to be. You’re reminding them you exist, but in a way that is more about serving them and helping them and sharing with them – not selling to them. It’s a “with” action, not a “to” action.
And that, my friend, is the art of the followup.