By Carolyn Edlund
As an artist, you want to pursue your passion for art, and express yourself in the studio. If you sell your work, you are also a businessperson. This means that you must nurture and grow business relationships in order to be successful.
The most basic element of all relationships is trust – business associations as well as friendships depend on it. Establishing trust with your potential customers early in the game is an essential part of developing your art business.
How can you develop trust?
When you present your work professionally, it gets you taken seriously. This should be a cornerstone of your marketing plan. Your display, photography, website and marketing materials should all be accurate, consistent, and well-planned. Skimp on this and you risk looking like an amateur, leaving prospective customers wondering if you are really in business, and not likely to trust you.
The Personal Touch
Meeting your customer in person puts a face on your relationships. This is why artist appearances, personal presentations, and retail and wholesale shows are so important. Make eye contact and offer a warm handshake to let others know you are serious and confident. Nervous about making that appearance? Do it anyway. The more you step outside your comfort zone, the larger that zone will become. When you get to know your gallery owners and buyers as people as well as clients, you gain their trust.
Ongoing contact with your customers helps build relationships, which is why follow up is so crucial. When you continue to show up, your customers know you are serious, and you are in business for the long haul. Remain consistent in your message and in the quality of your work, and your customers will come to trust you.
Thoughtful customer service really makes a difference, which is why you should go the extra mile even when you are not asked. This type of activity can really cement relationships. Serving your customer is a privilege – they keep you in business. Excellent customer service also leads to referrals and testimonials, which is an expression of the trust they have in you.
Listening is a key component in relationships – there is probably nothing more effective in building relationships than taking a genuine interest in others. When your customer feels that you care about and understand them, you will have built a relationship you can bank on.
What actions are you taking in your art business to establish that trust with potential clients?
What ongoing business practices do you use to maintain trust?
How are you demonstrating your trust in others?
Art credit: Janet Glatz. See more of her work here.