The other day I was working with a client who was trying to plan an art launch for two weeks later with a very small fanbase of her own. As we were discussing the marketing strategy, she looked at me funny and said,
“But how will I get enough people to see the art?”
She had determined that if she could expect roughly 1% of people visiting her collection’s landing page to end up purchasing, she would need at least 100 people to visit the page – and that 1 sale out of those hundred people might be a $50 print, which she said would feel like a failed launch to her.
So first we talked about goals for her launch – of course everyone wants to sell out, but it’s not feasible when you have a really small fanbase even if you get the art in front of loads of other people. Sales are always easier to people who already know and love your art.
We set a realistic goal of about $500 for her launch, which could be two original paintings, and then we set a goal for adding subscribers to her email list.
IF SHE COULD ALSO GROW HER FANBASE FROM THIS LAUNCH, THEN 2 SALES WOULDN’T FEEL SO SMALL.
But then we had to return to the conversation of how to get those 2 sales. Where were they going to come from when she had about 20 people on her email list, several of them family members.
THE ANSWER? INFLUENCERS.
Influencers are people in any industry showing up in any platform or medium who have an audience for which they are a leader, a trendsetter, or a mentor.
Their followers look to them for example – how to dress, how to decorate, how to eat right, how to live a better life, etc.
An easy example of this is a celebrity like Kim Kardashian. She posts on social media about her family, her star-studded adventures, her outfits, and her inspirations (especially shiny bling and exotic locales). She gives her following a glimpse into her idealized life and they frequently respond with imitation.
That’s an influencer at the core, though they can have very different personalities and subject matter.
I instructed my client to find influencers of her target market – people who her target market idolizes or at least takes advice from.
In her list there were a few bloggers, a celebrity, a charity, a couple other businesses, and even one other artist!
So what next? Next you have to approach them and see if they’ll talk about your art during or before your launch.
AND I THINK THIS IS WHERE PEOPLE STRUGGLE THE MOST!
No one knows what to say to this powerful person who could help them so much but couldn’t possibly have a reason to do so… right? Wrong.
These influencers are always looking for more topics that their audience will be interested in. They’re frequently thrilled to share something that they truly like and know that their audience would truly like as well.
It’s a win for them to be able to make their following happy and help them, even with something as simple as finding the right art.
SO YOU COME TO THEM PROFESSIONALLY AND FRIENDLY, NOT LIKE A DESPERATE GROUPIE HOPING THEY’LL DEIGN TO SPEAK TO YOU.
You make it clear that you’re thinking about them and their followers specifically and that you didn’t just spam-ask every popular person you could think of.
Then you ask for something very specific and simple. And you make it easy for them to accomplish it.
Here’s an example:
You seem to really love bright colors and sparkles! I see the way your followers react when you post something like last week’s desk shot with the bright pink folder and glitter… they clearly share your joy. It’s infectious! I’m actually an artist and I make really bright, sparkly abstracts that I think you would dig. This one is especially up your alley: [link to specific piece]
Do you like it? I was thinking you might want to share your favorite piece on social media because your fans would really love it too. No strings attached or anything, but if you want to share I would love that! And I’d be happy to share something of yours too, like your upcoming course on organizing your closets. I think my fans would love that – we have really similar fans.
Let me know what you think!
It can be a bit shorter than that, but you don’t want it any longer unless you need more space to accurately explain what sort of sharing you want them to do. Longer messages and emails typically get ignored by influencers because influencers are busy.
You’ll notice the message is really casual.
The trick is to write like you would talk to them in person, but use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. That gives the right balance of warm & friendly, but also professional.
If you were to ask for something more complicated, like for them to send an email to their list, you would want to provide them with a few examples.
So you might say, “Here are three example emails to help spark your inspiration: [link to google doc]”. And you would need to do the work to write the emails you wish they would send.
YES, SOMETIMES THIS IS TOUGH.
But it makes a big impact in growing your following because instead of growing slowly one person at a time, you are growing with groups at a time since you’re getting in front of an already-gathered group of people who are in your target market.
They see you, come check you out, and become fans themselves. Hooray!
It’s worth it to reach out to influencers, though you can expect that most will turn you down, ask you to pay for it, or not reply at all.
But if you keep trying, you’ll find people who are more than happy to do it, for free, and you’ll reap rewards that are definitely worth the time and effort.
So that’s how my client and I built a marketing strategy that reached beyond her tiny audience even with a very short time before the launch.