Art gallery, for the purpose of this article, refers to a privately owned for-profit commercial gallery.
I am a big fan of art, especially of art and artifacts from the middle ages. Yet, as someone claiming to be an art fan, I have not been to an art gallery (private or public) in years. Why?
By understanding and analyzing why people aren’t coming to your art gallery, it will help improve your marketing strategy and get more people to your art gallery. Let’s face it, the more people that come to your art gallery, the higher the chance of a piece of art being sold. The more art you sell, the better you can market your art gallery to artists and the more money you stand to make. As an art gallery owner you are presenting artists with a venue through which their artwork can be displayed and sold. Though the artist may stand to benefit from the mere display of their artwork, you only benefit from its sale. Therefore your goal is to move as much artwork as possible.
After asking around and giving the matter much thought, I have concluded that the main reason people aren’t going to art galleries is a lack of information. Many people that I spoke to expressed the same interest in art and said the main reason they don’t go to art galleries often is lack of information. For example, the Grammy Museum had a John Lennon exhibit starting October 3rd. Had I known about this, I would have definitely gone. However, I heard nothing about it until weeks after it was done when a friend was talking about it. You would think the Grammy Museum which unlike public museums makes money from admissions, would do a better job with marketing and promotion.
Unlike private museums, like the Grammy Museum, which charge admission, art galleries typically only make money through the sale of art. Because of this, art gallery owners do not want to overspend by paying for advertising and promotion that is overreaching. The art gallery only needs to be marketed to those most likely to show up and/or purchase art. What is the point in paying extra to spread your message to people who won’t show up? The problem with marketing only to people likely to show up and/or purchase art is that this narrow net excludes those that live outside your art gallery’s local area and who have not yet expressed an interest in your art gallery.
Don’t get me wrong, your art gallery should send promotional flyers to local residents and your mailing list, however, that is not enough. People will only know about your art gallery if they hear or read about it–this can be as simple as a friend telling them about your art gallery or seeing a promotional vinyl banner for your art gallery.
The trick is to strike early, often, and leave an impression. I cannot overemphasize the importance of getting started early. Start promote your holiday events in the summer. Come up with unique marketing promotions to get people to your art gallery.
A great marketing idea I came across was done by Picture This Framing and Gallery. They sent out a 3,500-piece mailing each with a puzzle piece. Recipients would need to go to the art gallery to see if their piece of the puzzle was one of the twenty-five missing pieces. If your piece fit the puzzle, you won a prize. This is a great example of a marketing campaign designed to get people to your art gallery. At the same time, it was not rocket science. McDonald’s does a similar thing with the Monopoly game and similar promotions have been done for years.
When planning your next promotion be sure to include not just people who are likely to purchase art, but anyone you think is likely to come–don’t just target your local area. Are there Universities, libraries, or museums within a reasonable distance? You should definitely be promoting your art gallery in these places. With the rise of social media, the patron who comes to your art gallery and doesn’t buy anything may very well be more important than someone who does buy something if he or she ends up promoting your art gallery via a social medium.