Holiday e-newsletters and announcements from artists are appearing fast and furious in my inbox. What are you doing to generate buzz about your business and hopefully make some sales this holiday season?
Ideally you set up your holiday marketing strategy back when it was shorts weather, but even if you’re behind on your planning and execution, we’ve got a few ideas for some marketing moves you can still make to light up holiday sales. In this two-part series on holiday art marketing, we’ll discuss online and offline marketing maneuvers.
Let’s begin with online endeavors because more and more people are using the Internet to make holiday purchases — and they are doing it earlier and earlier. In a 2008 survey conducted between November 10 and November 13 by the American Research Group, 40 percent of consumers had already begun their Christmas shopping, and 30 percent planned to make purchases on the Web. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, may traditionally be the biggest shopping day of the year for brick-and-mortar stores, but in cyberspace, the kick-off of the online shopping season is the Monday after Turkey Day, also known as Cyber Monday; brisk sales typically follow on Green Monday, the second Monday in December. According to comScore, a company that measures digital audiences, the heaviest online shopping day last year was Tuesday, December 9. Bottom line: If you want to leverage the holiday season online, you better get moving.
Here are several strategies to make your season bright:
•Incorporate e-commerce tools, such as PayPal hot buttons, in your e-newsletter and on your Web site to make purchasing easy.
•Categorize products in a buyer-friendly manner. Shoppers frequently have someone in mind as they surf the net for gifts. Do you have items that could be categorized as “For Him,” “For Her,” “For Grandparents,” etc.? You could also tag pieces by theme. Many shoppers have a price range in mind, so you might consider categorizing your products within price ranges. If you have merchandise such as for T-shirts, coffee mugs or stationery products that feature your artwork, consider putting those in a “Stocking Stuffers” category.
•Provide a clear description of the item. Is it an original or a reproduction? Will it come framed or unframed? Matted or unmatted? What are the dimensions?
•Offer gift cards or gift certificates. Gift cards are a great solution for those searching for an unusual gift for that hard-to-buy-for family member or friend. Clearly state what the gift card can be used for: your original pieces, prints and reproductions, other items from your alternative product line, instructional products or even tuition for one of your art classes. Determine also whether you will offer gift cards at multiple levels (in which case shoppers can do a quick click-&-buy) or if buyers need to enter in the amount on the order form.
•Repackage regular products as a gift set. Bundle one of your smaller original works with a 2010 calendar that you created that features your artwork, a print or a set of greeting cards.
•Offer freebies on shipping, gift wrapping or personalized gift tags. Gimmicks might be free shipping with purchases above a certain price. Harried shoppers like anything that saves them time. It could be worth your while to offer free gift wrapping on smaller items or a special note inside the gift tag.
•Offer express delivery. Express shipping is the only thing that saves last-minute shoppers from getting a lump of coal thrown at them by their loved one on December 25. Just be sure that your deadlines for ordering are clearly stated on your Web site so that you don’t get complaints.
•Bend over backwards with customer service. Answer questions promptly and politely. Fulfill orders quickly. Go the extra mile.
•Hold a “12 Days of Christmas” or an “8 Days of Hanukkah” sale. Feature a different piece of artwork or a service (“Free shipping today only!”) each day.
•Communicate offers regularly. There’s your Web site, your blog, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and all of the other social media sites in which you participate. Syncing your accounts so that one blast is broadcast to multiple communities can be a real timesaver. Try Ping.fm or SocialOomph.com to accomplish this.
As you gear up for the holidays, it’s easy to focus on getting inventory out the door and to forget the most critical component of all — your customer. When you cater to the needs of online shoppers by considering their interests or those for whom they are buying, along with the budget and time constraints of buyers, you won’t just win holiday customers, you’ll keep them coming back.
A word of caution: During the holiday season, retailers in other industries try to rack up sales by slashing prices. You may be tempted to run a promotion by discounting original artwork or artificially inflating the price so that you can show a markdown of a certain percentage. Your prices need to be consistent, no matter where or when you are selling. Discounting devalues your artwork and confuses buyers about the true value of your pieces. Instead, use the suggestions above to make your artwork more appealing to holiday shoppers, or consider creating a new line of lower-priced items that differ from your other originals, such as smaller works, reproductions or other types of merchandise.
Good luck and may bells jingle for you this holiday season!
Contributing writer and communications consultant Ligaya Figueras specializes in business writing, marketing and media relations for visual and performance artists, writers, nonprofit organizations and specialty service providers. Follow Ligaya on Twitter at twitter.com/figuerasl , or friend her on Facebook at facebook.com/ligaya.figueras .