How Direct Mail Can Boost Your Art Business

by Carolyn Edlund

Is direct mail old fashioned? Maybe… but it provides another form of outreach to help grow your business.



A watercolor artist I know makes a point to mail out postcards several times every year.  Each one features a new piece of his art and a handwritten greeting. When one of his art postcards arrives, I take notice and again appreciate his wonderful landscapes. Consequently I’ve saved his postcards over the years and look forward to receiving the next one.

Why does direct mail work as a marketing method for artists? Because it’s an unusual twist these days. Your inbox is probably always full, but your mailbox is not. It’s likely you are only receiving bills and annoying ads that end up in the trash can.

But mail in the form of letters, invitations, postcards and other items sent by artists is a breath of fresh air. Using physical mail pieces can help make your artwork memorable to collectors and potential customers. Direct mail marketing used to be commonplace. Now, it can help your art stand out as something unique and pleasing to receive.

Postcards have been an art marketing staple for many years. They have quite a few uses besides acting as mailers. Since they don’t require envelopes, the recipient sees your art images immediately without having to open them. Postcards have the added benefit of being less expensive to mail than letters.

Direct mail can offer a personal touch that often isn’t seen in this digital age. By customizing each piece, you avoid giving the impression that a “form letter” is being sent. Use the person’s name in the greeting, and mention something specific about them in the body of the letter, especially if you are using mail as a follow up to a personal meeting or transaction. Make sure it is obvious that the letter was composed specifically for them.

When following up on sales leads, you may place marketing collateral such as brochures, line sheets, your business card, or photos of your work in the envelope. These tangible pieces, especially if they share gorgeous images of your collection, are often saved by the recipient. Direct mail can complement other follow up methods such as phone calls and email during the sales cycle. It gives you yet another way to connect.

Got an exciting event coming up? Invitations can really make impact when sent through the mail. Select a distinctive envelope, perhaps one that is patterned or textured, and hand address it. You might consider using a special stamp to create interest, too.

If you have an exhibition, open studio, or other event coming up, sending direct mail gives an additional incentive for your contacts to attend. Receiving a personalized invitation can make the difference. If your list is large and you cannot afford a big mailing, consider another option. Send written invitations to your “hot list” of existing collectors or best prospects, and do an email marketing campaign to everyone else. Direct mail will act as a second reminder and personal invitation to those people you want to reach most.

Thank you notes are always in good taste. They are a good choice after making a sale or completing a commission. Use them when one of your contacts has done a kindness, such as providing a testimonial or a referring another customer. Your network is important. Reinforce relationships by making the extra effort to write a note. And when you use a notecard with an image of your artwork, it becomes a reminder of what you do.

Have you used direct mail lately as an art marketing strategy? What results did you get?



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