In our zest to learn social media, and websites, and all things internet that we can use to sell our art… we tend to forget the traditional methods that reigned before the world wide web.
Sure, some of those methods are outdated and a bad use of your time.
But some of them are still great! Tried and true, if you will.
One of my favorites is postcards.
Snail mail in general garners quite the reaction from people. You send a physical card in the mail, and you often receive a phone call to thank you for the card (even if it was a thank you card in the first place!).
But when artists use snail mail, they almost always see an increase in their sales within just a few months.
There are a lot of ways to do snail mail and before I talk about all the great ways, I want to get out of the way the one I don’t recommend:
I DON’T RECOMMEND YOU DO ANY ACTUAL SELLING THROUGH POSTCARDS OR LETTERS.
So you shouldn’t be asking them to buy something from you or mentioning new pieces within the context of prices or availability.
Those things are total turn offs and ruin that snail mail experience that makes them so excited to get something from you! It’s kind of like getting another bill. Yuck!
You want your fans to feel really good when they think about you.
You want them to think of you as someone they like, someone who makes them a little happier (through your artwork and your demeanor).
So if not for selling, how should you use mail?
This should be all about building a deeper connection with your fans – both those who have bought before and those who haven’t.
I recommend three different types of communication by mail.
1 The mass mailing.
Send a postcard (as a letter, this type of mail usually looks like you’re trying to hard or you’re desperate) with pictures of a piece you’re working on or just completed.
Treat it like the piece has already sold so you’re not tempted to put sales-y language in the postcard. Write something simple about your experience creating this new artwork. This postcard probably won’t have any sort of “call to action” (thing you’re asking them to do after reading it). You’re just building the relationship by letting them see inside your world a little.
2 The personal note.
Send a handwritten letter or card directly to one person who you know something about. This is one of those “just thinking about you” kind of letters.
It’s often easiest to write when you ask them a question about their life. If you know they have kids, ask them how the kids are liking school this year. If you know they just moved, ask how the move went. If you know they live in upstate New York, as how crazy their winter has been.
Throw in a little about you too, so it’s not all one-sided. This should feel like writing a pen pal. It’s a friendship, even if you’re not really close yet.
3 The event invitation.
Send a postcard inviting fans within a reasonable distance to come to your exhibitions and other events. Make sure it feels like an invitation, not like an announcement. You want that warm feeling of being personally invited, like the host might be checking off RSVPs and really wants you to be there.
Your postcard could even use the phrase “you’re invited” if you like. Include lots of images of your art, even if it’s a group exhibition. Don’t just send out the same exhibit postcard that the gallery is sending to their list, but your art isn’t even on it. Remember you want your fans to feel like you’re really asking them to come to something for you. You want them to be there, and they’re not just another warm body.
While those are my favorite types of mail to send, you could send other things. Just make sure you think about your goal for the mail and decide which elements need to be a certain way to support that goal.
Does it need to be a letter, a greeting card, or a postcard? Should it be handwritten? Do I sign it? Do I send it to everyone or just to certain people – by location, by situation, or based on whether or not they’ve bought in the past, etc?
Take your time, rather than sending it on impulse out of excitement.
You want your mailings to make a big impact and feel really special.
These postcards will build relationships with your fans and customers so they keep thinking of you when they think of their favorite artists and when they’re ready to buy art.
Make them a top priority in your life and genuinely care about their happiness & wellbeing, and your art business will thank you in addition to the personal fulfillment you’ll feel from such a relationship with a fan.