Please, copy and paste the ideas below which appeal to you and apply them today! Also, do leave comments if you have something to share with us all.
Put the customer first: I’d say that the sector as a whole could do more in terms of this. I know that from the artist’s perspective the process of creating and presenting contemporary art to an audience isn’t necessarily always about making a sale, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be clear about the opportunity to buy, if it exists.
Make it fun: The process of discovering a piece of work, bidding, buying it and taking it home for the first time is an exciting and rather addictive experience! That’s the thrill of collecting – no matter what you are interested in or how big your budget.
Stop chasing ‘collectors’ only: Too often both artists and galleries are concentrating so hard on that elusive and mythical ‘serious’ collector that they completely overlook the opportunity to foster the potential interest from ‘normal’ people. Even serious collectors were once first time buyers. Let’s not forget that.
Bare all: We all need to work together to help customers develop an understanding and appreciation of the way in which art is created and produced, so that they are able to get to grips with way in which work is valued and priced.
Everyone is a collector: This is the most important thing to realise. Help people understand that collecting art is not just something for uber-rich people (which is how the media often portrays it when they report on big auctions etc) and nor does affordable art have to mean formulaic, easy work.
Make connections with other organisations selling art: And try to find ways to work together; it’s something public arts organisations have done in terms of marketing and audience development for years.
Buy art yourself: It’s a good way to understand things from the perspective of your clients.
Try a membership scheme, then use it: The one we run asks members to pay a small amount (currently £50 a year) and in return we offer access they wouldn’t otherwise get to artists, curators, other collectors and so on. And it works! We have members buying critically engaged art who were previously either not buying at all, or buying in an uncritical way (entirely based on aesthetics, and without any ongoing engagement with the gallery or artist).
Explore selling art online: It’s a serious growth area. We organised a panel session with the Own Art scheme which explored some of the key trends that are emerging in the online space. Viewing and buying art online is one of the growth areas of the internet.
To summarise some of the outputs: in common with other areas such as the luxury sector, consumers are prepared to pay more online than ever before, but top end purchases still seem to be transacted offline (although some US sites are tackling this area and the big auction houses are using more online technologies to transact).
Also, everyone was unanimous that you really need to understand the online consumer in the same way as offline and have a clear audience in mind. Free tools like Google Analytics are essential for this. Finally, it is so important to tell a compelling story online in relation to the work, artist and gallery in the same way you would do offline.
The cost of getting into the online game is so much lower than ever before the barriers to entry for galleries are disappearing.
Price your art right: There are a few things to consider: one, research comparable artists (in terms of experience exhibiting and selling, and medium/style); two, test the market; three, establish prices; and finally, be consistent – that is, sell at the same price across the board at galleries, open studio events and art fairs.