The Twelve Sales Tips of Christmas and Beyond

THE MARKETING INFORMATION THAT EVERY ARTIST NEEDS TO KNOW

The Twelve Art Sales Tips of Christmas and Beyond
The Twelve Art Sales Tips of Christmas and Beyond

 

The Christmas sales season has begun already, although the first day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere doesn’t actually officially happen until December 21st 2016 at 11:28am, Eastern Standard Time.

Every year I promise myself that I will be prepared for this year’s Christmas sales period, but just like every other year I have found myself with little time to actually sit down and set out a strategy that will increase sales on the lead-up to Christmas.

You cannot leave the design of Christmas artwork until the last minute, many of the largest corporations plan up to at least a couple of years ahead. In April 2014 I managed to get tickets to a trade show event that dealt purely with toys. What I learned more than the fact I wanted most of them, was that there were toys that would not be available in the shops until just before late summer 2016, and some even had release dates to coincide with as yet to be released feature films at the cinema which are due to be released at the end of 2017 and even in to 2018. Some will never be released.

In some cases toys were seen that would not hit the shops until two, three, and even four-years later. Many were to be available at the end of 2014, but I was amazed at how many wouldn’t actually see the light of day for years to come or if they ever would, and that they will be changed as technology evolves before the final release date.

I thought about this event this week as I took a stroll through one of the largest toy stores in the U.K, Hamleys in Regent Street, it is huge and I would be surprised if there are bigger ones. The shelves were filled with toys I would never have dreamed of when I was a child. I wondered just how many years some of them had been waiting to sit on a shelf or to be played with, and I assume that some of them may have been seen at the trade show I had visited in 2014.

I always thought that manufacturing was a fairly quick process. The toys would be invented, designed, produced, tested, and then mass produced very quickly. I think in many cases they are, but I know from my visit that this isn’t the case with all of them.

I got around to thinking about my process for preparing art in time for the festive period, and how I should go about preparing better to have pieces related to Christmas available, or to have pieces that would just be more suited to this time of year.

I realised that I was already too late to start the process of creating new pieces specifically for this year due to my shoulder surgery. That put me behind by at least twelve-weeks, pre and post-surgery and following all of the physiotherapy.

So I am going to utilise my time between now and January to create pieces in readiness for next year. Next year I am hopeful will provide me with fewer moments of drama, and a little more time.

But I also realised that over the years I have produced lots of artwork, and that there is something I can do to still enable me to take advantage of the seasonal sales period. So this week I am writing about the Twelve Sales Tips of Christmas and beyond.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

Start promoting previous best selling works. These are classics that you already have in your portfolios that have previously sold, so they will do again. I have three or four pieces which sell more frequently than others, so I will be targeting my promotions around these products.

ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

Take advantage of the many pre-Christmas offers that most print on demand sites send out. If they send you a code that will give a customer 25% off, or any other value, then use it in your promotional posts. Most retail stores run pre-season sales or offer discounts on older stock, so you should too.

Some print on demand sites will also let you create your own code, bear in mind that when you do this, the percentage you give a client will come off your artist commission unlike the codes issued by the sites themselves which may offer free shipping without affecting your artist commission.

Aim for the emotional honesty of VAN Gogh
A mantra to live by for every artist

ON THE THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

If you haven’t already set up a Facebook page for your art business, what are you waiting for? This is your professional and non-personal portal that allows clients to visit you on Facebook, leave reviews, and also shop for new products.

You can link the “Shop Now” button to your artist website in many cases, and the shop tab directly to a chosen URL which should ideally be your artist website, or other website where you sell your art.

If you have a Facebook fan or business page you will also be able to retrieve some analytics data to see who liked, loved, and wowed, your art or other products and posts, and importantly you can pick up some interesting geographic demographics so you can target any paid advertising correctly.

My previous 7 Rules of Facebook post will also be worth reading and you can find it here: http://www.beechhousemedia.co.uk/2016/04/the-7-rules-of-facebook.html This is one of the most useful posts I have written according to so many of you who emailed me to let me know. Thank you!

If you set up a new artist business or fan page, let me know and I will promote those I really like on this site and on my social media channels.

ON THE FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

Update descriptions and tags of your existing artwork. In fact you should do this quite often, yet so many of us upload a piece and never go back to review or promote after we initially post it. Adding newer and more relevant tags will help the product to rank higher in the search results.

If new products have become available through your print on demand service, make sure that your images are sized for these products too. In some cases, your art might not look great on a particular product. Never try to crop it or resize it because it will degrade the quality of the image. You need your products to have a consistent high quality feel, so if you cannot produce a format large enough to cover one of the new products, don’t offer it for sale at all. It either won’t get printed or it could be returned by the buyer.

ON THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

Many of the print on demand sites offer a preview of your art including any chosen frame. Save the produced image and use it in your marketing materials. I do this whenever I produce what I call art cards. These are just small picture mosaic images that are made as either squares for Instagram, or as wider images for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

I place the image including the frame, add a heading, and where the piece is available from, and importantly I include the URL for my artist website. If I have an offer running, I can just add the additional offer text in the white space that is on the original card.

I always use an app which is available for iPad and iPhone called “Over”. It is a great little app and comes pre-loaded with features and others are available as an-app purchases. Recently the app has been updated to include a PRO mode, but for me the annual cost is quite steep (£39.95) and for what I use the app for, everything is covered with my previous purchases.

Rhino art
My Rhino art card was produced using Over on the iPad. You can buy this art from http://10-Mark-Taylor.pixels.com

If the annual subscription wasn’t quite so expensive I would certainly sign up, but lately I have looked at just how many subscriptions I have. I was surprised to say the least when I went through the list, Creative Cloud, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky TV, print on demand services, printer inks, Virtual Private Networks, Anti-Virus, health care, prescription pre-payments, web hosting, email hosting, and adding another would be a sure fire way to annoy my ex-banker wife who already believes that life itself is becoming dependent on subscription services. I think she might be right.

In fact, make a list of your existing subscriptions and if there are any you don’t use on a regular basis, ditch them.

Another thing you can do and something I have started to offer potential clients is to ask them to send you a photo of the wall they wish to hang the art on. Using Photoshop or other programs you can easily place a framed picture on the wall, and even estimate how different sizes will look. This gives the buyer the opportunity to see how the art will look in their room. You can also make a small charge for this and then offer it as a discount if they buy any of your works, or you can offer it for free.

ON THE SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

Sign up to affiliate programs on your print on demand platform. Some POD companies allow you to make a commission sold on other artists work if the buyer follows your link. Promoting other artists is a great way to help them out, and in many cases they will return the favour. The returns are usually a low-percentage, but some people actually only ever promote affiliate links and some actually make a living from doing only this.

ON THE SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

 

Social media marketing
Social media marketing is a critical tool to use in selling art

Buy some of your own greetings cards and send these out to friends or existing clients. I send out a card to each of my collectors who I know of, and last year this resulted in me making a couple of additional sales. It reminds people that you care, and it reminds them that you also sell greetings cards with your art on.

I send out a few printed art cards at the same time highlighting any new products too. Remember you won’t pay full price, you will just pay the base price for the cards.

If you have artist friends on social-media, why not purchase a greetings card or two from their range of art. Not only will you be supporting another artist directly, you will be able to give them a little free promotion too, and you can let others know that you support other artists. If a few people did this it would also help another artist to post an announcement of their sale, and it would help them to climb the recently sold ranks in search.

ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

Most Christmas sales occur well before Christmas. Usually in October and November people will start their shopping. Sales during October, November and the beginning of December are for the largest items.

Promote other items after the first week of December such as emergency phone chargers, mobile phone cases, and cushions. These are generally the types of gift that people will buy on the last minute lead up to Christmas, a time when people become less rational about how they spend money.

If you can make your art available on some lower cost option products too, these can become quite a staple in your ongoing pre-Christmas sales strategy.

ON THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

Jazz your promotion up with festive touches. Shops and companies spend millions and millions on their festive marketing strategies. People like to give presents, it is human nature. There is also possibly some hard hitting scientific fact to back this up, but I am basing it for the purpose of this feature on me. I love to give presents to people.

Think of your online art promotion as a physical store. Follow the lead of the biggest stores in your area. The moment they start putting up red bows and Christmas trees in their displays is your lead to start doing the same.

A Cadbury’s Cream Egg for example is a chocolate delicacy that costs not very much, but signifies to everyone that Easter will soon be on us. I can guarantee that on Boxing Day, my local shop will put Cadbury’s Cream Eggs on the shelves, followed by a range of Easter Eggs probably no later than the 2nd or 3rd of January.

Try to buy an Easter egg on the Thursday before Easter and more often than not you will be out of luck. They will have all been sold on New Year’s Day. I have no idea why everyone feels the need to suddenly prepare to give out chocolate eggs some three months before Easter Sunday, but they do.

Add in a Christmas tree or a snowman or some holly to your promotional posts as soon as the large stores do it. Join the trend of having a pre-Christmas sales event in the middle of July, we all moan that it is far too early to get Christmas presents but the reality is that if the shops are doing it, you should be too.

Add a Christmas banner to your Facebook or other social-media accounts, and whether you personally celebrate Christmas or not, remind yourself that a lot of people do. Start when the shops do, keep it low-key initially, then during November onwards, ramp the green and red up. Those two colours will be enough to remind people that Christmas is around the corner. If you run AdSense on your site, many advertisers will already be doing this.

ON THE TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

Prepare for other seasonal sales opportunities too. There is no doubt that where art is concerned, the fourth quarter (October, November, and December) is probably the biggest opportunity to grab a slice of the pie, there are other periods in the year which pass us by but which we should be prepared for.

This is the big one of all of today’s tips. Each year we see periods of time which present opportunities to sell our art yet so many artists don’t take advantage of every season.

We might have winter, spring, summer, and fall in our calendars, but it is events within these seasons that present us with so many missed sales opportunities. In fact, in theory you could do nothing other than sell to those markets and be busy all year. This is certainly my new strategy for next year, never miss an opportunity.

The Christmas season as we have now discovered is that all important fourth quarter. This should be the time when you are making money consistently. If you’re not, you need to reach the right markets. 7 Billion Plus people in the world, you just have to find the people who love what you do.

If you keep a stock of artwork yourself you need to make sure that you continuously replenish it. It is a great time to introduce new works, and any works left over can be sold during the immediate period after Christmas which is generally through January sales and the lead up to Valentine’s Day. There is no point in only promoting your art on February 13th for Valentine’s Day, you need to start at the same time that the retailers do in their physical and online stores.

In the United States which is my largest market despite being UK based, will see both the Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day weekend. Around the same time in the U.S, Super Bowl is suddenly on the sporting calendar. Sport themed art, flowers, and romance are the order of the day.

Add in a few social-media posts depicting Super Bowl teams or cupids, and you are half-way there.

As I said earlier, the local shop will start selling Cadbury’s Cream eggs on Boxing Day, so start thinking about your Easter promotions and Easter related art. You will also have St. Patricks day falling somewhere close to other special days in this season so add in a few shamrocks, promote using green text on a white background, place the Easter bunny and a few eggs in your posts and your campaign will be on its way.

In the UK we have a few Bank Holidays during this period and it is a period also known for home decorating. You’ll notice that the large DIY stores will have special promotions on everything from paint to lawnmowers. Spring has definitely arrived at this point.

In the U.S, Memorial Day a day in honour of those who serve and have served in the military is also the onset of summer. Prior to this though you will also have mother’s day, so adding in flowers to your posts will give everyone a sense of your current marketing theme.

At this point you might want to take a short break and start preparing for the big summer events. Father’s Day is another event where a good artist friend of mine said that he had made many sales last year by partnering up with a local gastro-pub.

All he does is get vouchers from the pub who already offer a free main meal to Fathers on Father’s Day, and the same to mothers on Mother’s Day. He then gives the voucher away with his local landscapes, and he also has a few hanging in the pub itself along with some leaflets.

In the U.S Independence Day falls on the 4th July, so start adding in a few patriotic flags and fireworks to your posts on the lead up, then you will have Labor Day. This also provides you with the opportunity to sell notebooks and stationery for the back to school season, and maybe offer an end of summer promotion to clear away some older pieces.

Next up you will have the increasingly successful Halloween season. I was surprised this year that many shops had started to add a touch of the Halloween theme in to their displays much earlier than usual. Early September and you could purchase a Halloween costume, sweets and candy, and the displays were mainly orange, browns, golds, and reds, autumnal colours, and pumpkins.

Adding a few spooky posts to your timeline that won’t frighten everyone is a great conversation starter. Again though you need to be doing this much earlier than a few days prior to Halloween.

Also in the U.S you will have Thanksgiving within three weeks or so of Halloween. Then of course Black Friday and Cyber-Monday have become hugely popular all around the world. Preparing offers in advance of these events will pay dividends. Preparing ahead of everyone else will put you in the lead.

ON THE ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

The real key to a successful selling strategy is to prepare well in advance. In December I will start to create pieces for next December, and will quickly organise some of my art that will be suitable for spring, summer, and the fall.

Preparing a year in advance is a good strategy but it might take you longer than a year to accomplish creating art for every event and season.

I will also be using December to create graphics for my social-media posts next year too. Then I will be prepared for any event or holiday and will be able to pre-empt seasonal sales opportunities and will also gain some ever-green content that will last me for a couple of years, even if I make a slight change to the images to keep it fresh, it will save so much time in the long run.

ON THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS PREPARATION

It should go without saying that by this point you really need to take a break, enjoy some mulled wine and prepare dinner for the family. But there is one other thing that you need to do. Build up an email contact list of existing and potential clients and send out some promotional emails.

Never spam anyone, nobody in the history of ever likes to be spammed. But a seasonal themed email with a discount code attached might just be the email they remember when choosing their next piece of art.

Send out a promotional email two or three times a week in December on the lead up to Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, send out a thank you, and remind people that you have some exciting art coming up, maybe some exciting discounts too.

On Boxing Day you might want to thank your buyers and remind them that January sales start in a few days, or even on Boxing Day as many online stores and retail premises do. On New Year’s Day, maybe remind people that Valentine’s Day is around the corner, as is Easter.

Then resume your usual one or two update emails each week, and for a few days at least, your social-media posts might not include anything relating to an upcoming holiday or event.

REMEMBER

Seasonal selling seasons are used all of the time by large and small businesses and like them or not, they will happen either way, whether you are in or out. You might as well take the opportunity to grab a slice of the action and sell some of your art.

By following these twelve steps which are not available as a free PDF if you sign up, by preparing early you will be ready for next year and the year after. All you need to then do is concentrate on your art and your promotional social-media posts.

If anyone would like to see a post with ideas for use on social-media to present the latest holidays and events, let me know by leaving a comment or getting in touch. The only other thing I need to say is I know you have been humming the twelve-days of Christmas tune whilst reading this post, and GOOD LUCK!

ABOUT M.A

Mark “M.A” Taylor is a UK based artist who specialises in contemporary, abstract, and digital art and has more than 30-years of experience. His works are available through online stores such as http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/10-mark-taylor/shop and at Pixels through http://10-Mark-Taylor.pixels.com and at Zazzle https://www.zazzle.co.uk/beechhouse* Mark will also soon be producing stunning new designs that will be exclusively available from Design By Humans.

Mark’s work is sold all over the world and also in more than 150 of the largest brick and mortar physical retail art stores in the USA and Canada, such as The Great Frame Up, and Deck the Walls.

Mark supports other local and international artists with advice and promotion through this website, and his successful Facebook groups The Artists Exchange, and The Artist Hangout and regularly promotes other artists from around the world. By purchasing Marks artwork you are helping to keep this website maintained and for Mark to continue supporting other artists in such a highly competitive market.

Not only is his work unique, you will also receive a 30-day money back guarantee included with all sales through Fine Art America, Pixels, and Zazzle. His work is available on a wide range of quality print mediums, and other products through his Pixels site.

 

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