Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Not Accepting Credit Cards Can Hurt You

When it comes to customer service, you will be hard-pressed to compete in the art market if you do not accept credit cards. Whatever blocks you have had about accepting them in the past… Move Beyond Them!

If you are doing things correctly, regardless of what you are selling, you should have a diverse array of price points. Some of the higher priced items will fall in the range beyond pocket change. Most people don’t keep that kind of cash in their wallets, and some not in their checking accounts either, even those with higher disposable incomes. Be prepared to offer clients the convenience of credit card purchases.

Let’s face it, we live in a world of convenience in the U.S. and that is what our customers expect. I know, I rarely carry cash myself. I have become dependent on the convenience of my bank debit card. If you are worried that merchant fees are going to suck up all of your cash flow if you offer this convenience and service to your customers, think twice. I assure you, the extra sales you will make by offering the service will by far offset this small expense to you.

I have done research in this area and can save you hours of painstaking work trying to chase down the best deal when it comes to merchant accounts. Navigating this arena can be tricky, as I know there are many predatory merchant services who are poised to take advantage of small business owners... which is probably why so many of you get the notion that accepting credit cards is not for you and your business.

I can help you find the right merchant account match for your business in a one on one personal consultation or low cost email session. I assure you, you will make more money in the long run by accepting credit cards. Clients really appreciate and expect this service in this day and age. It will encourage them not only to purchase your work, but to purchase more of it.

Also, don't fall into the trap of thinking that as long as there is an ATM close by... you don't need to accept credit cards. Marketing research points out that sales are an "in the moment" act. By the time a potential customer walks to an ATM machine, they have talked themselves out of buying your work.

You can find much more information about this topic and more valuable customer service tips, designed to help you increase your sales and profits and live up to your full business potential in my white-sheet The Art of Customer Service and Sales Techniques. A wealth of information and only 9.95

Freea L. Sarti
Pro-Arts Advocate

Find this low cost white-sheet
on my website along with cool FREE stuff at

What Every Artist Needs

Parallel Marketing consists of a very basic concept! My motto is all about keeping life and business as basic and as simple as possible. So “simply” think of other interests and activities the people who “love your work” share. For example, if you create functional pottery and one of your hottest selling items are Ikebana Vases, your target audience and clientele, most likely, also share a love of Japanese floral arranging.

Likewise, a potter who sells a lot of tea pots or tea bowls is likely to have a good client base of individuals who love to drink tea.

How does this all translate to clever and creative marketing? Think about this...If you know this about your target audience, what parallel marketing events (meaning events not directly related to “your work”, but that run parallel to your industry) can you host to get your audience to you and your work?

For the potter selling Ikebana vases, the obvious event to host...An Ikebana floral arranging class. For the potter selling a high volume of tea pots and/or tea bowls, a clever parallel marketing event may be a Japanese Tea Ceremony, hosted by a true Japanese Tea Master.

What I suggest to keep things more economical for you, is to ask a current client (who you suspect enjoys entertaining, to host the event at their home in exchange for a gift certificate for you work. In essence, a barter. This way you don't have to rent a venue to host the event. If you are comfortable hosting it at your own home and have the space this is a great option too.

Bartering can be a wise and creative way to launch marketing events. Be sure to have a table, shelf unit or wall to display your wares at the event, so that at the end of the class, workshop or demonstration, the participants will be inspired to purchase their favorite pieces. Since you will be offering the event for free, the attendees will be compelled to thank you by purchasing your art at the end.

In most cases, it is not terribly expensive to hire someone in a parallel field to come teach, demonstrate or present for a couple of hours, or even an hour may be sufficient.

Often the person teaching may be interested in bartering as well or part barter, part cash payment may be a nice balance. Be sure to get a receipt for your records, even if hand written. All expenses related to the event are tax deductible business expenses, except the bartered wares. When you trade or gift an item, even to a charitable cause, only the cost of the materials that went into making the piece are deductible. Not fair I know, but this is how it works!

Whatever you end up spending on the event, as long as with in reason of course, is well worth the buzz and P.R. that the participants will generate and spread to others. It is wise to look at the money you put out for hosting an absolutely free event, as an investment in a very effective, fun, unique and creative marketing plan. If you sell work out of a reputable gallery you pay 40% or more in commission to the gallery. If you sell your work at a reputable art show you pay a substantial booth fee to be there. When you sell your work wholesale, the standard is to sell your work at half your retail value. In each of these scenarios, you have a financial investment and responsibility.

In comparison, parallel marketing can be a great value for you. Even if you do not sell like gangbusters the first few events, more and more sales will come as you build buzz momentum about your work, and this will launch you much further than without this needed and wise marketing strategy. Additionally, building a loyal following in your own community has the huge benefit of allowing you to sell directly to your customers, cutting out middle men who often take more than their share. You should still be diversified and not only relying on parallel marketing alone, of course.

When you look at it from this perspective, you will see that it is a wise endeavor, which gives you a hefty return on your investment when done correctly. Parallel Marketing is a great way to connect with your clients on a more personable level. They will enjoy the intimate setting you provide by hosting such and event. Use this intimate setting to get them using and viewing your work as much and as often as possible throughout the event.

The intimate contact with the work itself, sells more art! Let them drink out of your tea bowls, use your tea pots, trial your vases for their floral arranging(You can even offer to let them take the vases or wall art home with them for a trial with the security of a credit card swipe –this is optional, but most of the successful wall art creators I know offer this free trial for work over $500.00 as a convenience to their clients and it sells a lot of work for them. Once home and on their wall, they rarely return it and usually call to tell you to run their credit card for the purchase of the piece, so they can be the proud new owner. (It's kind of like taking a puppy home, there is no turning back once it is home and everyone ogles over it's preciousness) Allow them to hang your photography during the event if you host a wall art hanging class. All of this "hands on" interaction with your work, will make them delight in telling their friends about you and your work.

Tell them they can only attend the next event if they bring a friend. The experience is enriched for the customer when they get to spend time getting to know “The Artist” better and getting to hold, view and learn more about your work all through the event, even though the focus of the class is on something other than your work.

This indirect route to you, "The Artist", provides a rich experience for everyone involved and it give clients something new and exciting to talk about. It is a powerful and effective way to draw in new clients as the buzz of your free events spread like wild fire.

Of course, since you will be doing a limited number of them and will have limited spaces, for each class, people will line up quick for access to your next event. And they will pass your business cards and referral program cards on to their friends and family. For more information on creating a referral program watch my video “How to Create a Referral Program” on this blog. Every artist needs to host parallel marketing events and every artist needs a referral program. So don't miss the boat... go get busy.

Freea L. Sarti Art Marketing and
Career Development Center
Pro-Arts Advocate and Founder of The Chronicles of Artnia.
A cool free business plan for artists.

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Tricks For Marketing Your Work in a Tough Economy

Marketing art work during economic down-turns requires a higher degree of creativity. The same creativity that opens the soul to creating one's most masterful pieces of art work, can facilitate the process of one's most masterful marketing strategies.

Marketing can be much more fun than sending updates and invitations via email or snail mail. In addition, it can be further reaching than your immediate mailing list.

If you find yourself struggling in the face of a tough economy, ask yourself this simple question; Am I diversified enough? We always hear about the importance of diversification when it comes to our financial portfolios, but rarely when it comes to our art business. Applying these same principles to your business, will bring you financial stability when the waters are rough. In addition, it is a key component to making a prosperous living doing what you love.

What exactly do I mean by diversification? I mean do you have revenue coming from a diverse range of sources? Have you continued to tap new sources with in your market? For example, if you do a lot of art shows, are you also rooted in wholesale accounts? If not, can you make a commitment to develop this aspect of your business? Maybe you feel your art work is not marketable in the wholesale world. Can you think of how it could become so? Can you think of clever ways to make this cross over? If you are a painter or photographer, one innovative way to do this is to have your work printed on silk scarves. They sell well via wholesale and they are so light that shipping cost are extremely low and you never have to worry about breakage and damage.

Perhaps you already sell of out of galleries, have a number of wholesale accounts and even do a number of art shows. If this is the case and you have been creative enough to get this far, you may take a moment to congratulate yourself. It takes time, commitment and hard work to round yourself out this way.

Stop for a moment and think bigger though. If you were creative enough with your marketing to get this far...How much further could you go if you tap into your creativity even deeper?

One of the most fun and creative marketing strategies that you can implement is parallel marketing. Why?, because people generally HATE to be sold stuff, but on the other hand, isn't it true that they LOVE to be invited to things?

So read on in my next article on Parallel Marketing to learn how you can host a marketing event that will create excitement and buzz about your art work and have people buying it without you even having to “sell” it. And they will bring their friends to buy even more work. This is great leverage for launching your creativity and it will be a nice break from the regular art shows and other marketing strategies that alone may not earn you enough income in a challenging economy. So read on...

Freea L. Sarti
Pro-Artist Advocate

Don't forget to check out my FREE offerings on my website