by Carolyn Edlund
Create ongoing income through repeat sales to existing customers and grow your business.
Perhaps you run a production studio and ship your work regularly to wholesale accounts. Or, you might be cultivating collectors of your original art, encouraging them to purchase more as time goes by for themselves or as gifts. No matter the situation, making repeat sales is a powerful use of leverage to grow your business.
It isn’t easy to land new customers. Usually it’s a numbers game. You have to reach out to many people who may be interested in your work, narrow down your hot prospects, and close the sale whenever you can. This process takes time, money and energy – which does not diminish over time when all of your customers are new.
Selling to existing customers is easier; it takes less investment from you. Repeat customers are already fans. They know you and they like your art. You have created a trusting relationship by delivering work that pleases them. So of course you don’t have the resistance that you must always face with new potential customers.
Those repeat customers are not only perfect prospects for more sales, but they can provide testimonials for you, and refer you to others, thus giving you “warm leads.”
You may not be selling to your existing customers again right away, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t stay in touch. In fact, you should be reaching out regularly so they remember you, and when they are ready to make future art purchases, your name comes to mind.
In your business planning, be sure to create a marketing calendar that includes ongoing communication with your existing customers. I’ve seen case after case where artists simply don’t consider their existing customers to be a priority – thus losing out on what may be one of their biggest sources of income!
Use these strategies to grow sales from your existing customer base:
Give excellent customer service. Thank your customer for their purchase; over-deliver on their expectations. And in your communications, mention that you appreciate them becoming a “collector” of your work. Set the stage right away for future contact and also future sales.
Stay in touch. Ever notice that when you make an online purchase, the company keeps in touch? That’s because they understand the power of repeat sales. You can do the same thing, too. You don’t have to harass your customers – just send them occasional, but regular emails and direct mail, and invite them to connect on social media – to let them know you are still around, and that your art is still wonderful and available.
Create new work. As you continue to produce in the studio, share this with your customer base. Who doesn’t love to see what is new and exciting? Bring your newest art to the attention of people who already appreciate you.
Present work that is a fit for your customer. Keep track of the type of work your customers purchase. Then, you are in a position to suggest similar work, perhaps the next piece in a series that you are creating. When you customize your contact, it gets noticed. Write an individual email that relates to your customer’s last purchase and invite them to see what else you have. Most people love the fact that they “know the artist” and are happy to hear from you.
Ask for referrals. Let all your collectors know that much of your business is referral driven. Then, politely ask your good customers if they know of anyone else who would appreciate your art. There are a lot of strategies to drive referral business, which will give you even more existing customers to sell to again!