Oct 24, 2010


Authenticity refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion, and intentions. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authenticity)

This week I have been bombarded with facebook friend requests, facebook events, emails and tweets. It's election week and all of sudden everyone wants to be 'my friend'. Now I'm not against shameless self-promotion or advertising, in fact I teach these things at the college. But I definitely don't like campaigns done poorly, without creativity and most importantly where the intentions that are not authentic. Coming into my social network just when you need me means that you are trying to use me, not help me or even like me (let alone really a friend).

Sorry, this is a bit of a rant, but I figure we can all learn from their mistakes. So how do you socially promote what you do and be authentic at the same time?
  1. PARTICIPATE, even before you need something. These guys should have joined twitter a year a go and joined in the conversation. If they think I could be there facebook friend, they should have done so a year a go and commented on things I do.
  2. ENGAGE the audience creatively, not just by posting that your canvassing went well today. Tell me how it changed your views and what new impact you will have.
  3. DIFFERENTIATE between social media channels. Your facebook statuses should not be the same as your tweets. They are two different channels and need to be used independently from each other. That also includes your news on your website, your blog and your email campaigns.

Sep 25, 2010

Too busy, too plain and too many

Last weekend I was at the Queen West Art Crawl, as a vendor, but also as a spectator of other booths and shoppers. Here are 3 of my main observations:

1. Although it is good marketing practice to collect contact information from potential buyers (via emails lists, mailing lists, etc), it shouldn't get in the way of the reason people are at the show. If you have a book for mailing lists, a guest book for comments, brochures for future shows, your business cards, a portfolio, all of these things cloud your art. They are actually competing with the real reason you're there - your art. By the time your potential customer has picked up a card, a brochure, signed even 1 of your 2 books and made polite conversation with you, they are too tired to look at your art. So be careful, have enough stuff to engage them, but don't make it too busy.

2. White space is important, but it can also be intimidating. If your booth looks too neat, too empty, customers are afraid to enter. Really. They think 'I shouldn't touch', or 'If there's only 3 things they must be really expensive" or "if there's only 3 things, they must be the 3 things that no one else wanted. Another draw back to the plain booth, is that people buy art from artists for a story (as I've mentioned before) and a plain booth doesn't tell a story. It doesn't say who you are. So you have be somewhere between too busy and too plain.

3. Throughout the show I had some friends visit - which I loved and needed for a bit of a break from polite talk and they even brought coffee. But I did notice that customers didn't ask questions or buy when I seemed 'too busy'. I also noticed that a booth just across from me had 3 girls 'working' the booth. One was the artist and 2 others were her supports. Great for the artist - minus the sales. People already feel intimidating entering tents, then add more people watching them makes it even harder. So when possible, leave your booth to visit with friends (leave in the care of someone while you leave though) or need a break. Don't make your tent the one with too many.

Sep 14, 2010

Heartbreaker vs love of my life

Last week, my son started grade 1. A big step in many minds, but to him it just seemed to be another day. I started putting little notes in his lunch bag when he was in JK - just to say I love him, or sneak him a kiss, especially on days he seemed to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Well, I did one last week too as he is transitioning into his new grade 1 role. Apparently, I wasn't the only mom I found out on the school yard one morning.

Well, James asked me to stop sending them because he didn't want to get teased. It broke my heart. It really shouldn't have, because wasn't the purpose to make him happy? And if they weren't, then why should I be upset. Anyway, I was a little.

 James asked me while I was making lunch how to spell love. I told him, but so busy thinking about how he doesn't want me to send love notes anymore, I didn't even pause to think why he wanted to know. Well, this morning I was rummaging through my purse at a meeting and out fell a little note, a love note from James. He sure knew how to bring a smile to my face.

So how does this tie into business? Well, it doesn't totally. But it did get me thinking about are there things I do for my customers that are really things I would like as opposed to what they would like? Maybe it's time to ask them...

Jun 30, 2010

Borrow a book, call a friend

Well, learning from our kids is nothing new, but I thought I would share another life lesson I learned from my son a few summers ago. It's something that comes up over and over in both parenting and even in other aspects of my life as well.

James asked me if we could fishing. Not that big a deal, except the fact that I had never been fishing and had absolutely no idea where to begin. And that's how I answered thinking that would be the end of that and we would move on to something more within my comfort zone. But, not with James, he said 'well then let's go get a book from the library to learn how'. Darn library!

We did go to the library, read a book, stocked up on supplies (all the wrong supplies mind you), and headed down to the lake. Thank goodness for not catching anything that first time, I didn't even have pliers with me.

We then enlisted a friend, an avid fisherman, to take us on a fishing trip. We learned a ton, got the correct supplies and have since caught many fish together. All it took, was a little curiosity, the desire to learn, some good resources at hand, and a little practice. Sounds a lot like art doesn't it?

Jun 9, 2010

Rain Rain come today

Not usually the chant you would think of when heading off to an art show, but rain can sometimes be helpful for things other than our gardens. It can even be helpful for an outdoor art show - really it can.

This entry took me a few days since getting back from my last show, in the rain. Since Monday I have been hanging up my tent, my table cloths, my curtains and cards to dry. This is definitely not the fun or productive part of a show in the rain.

The productive part is that there's less window shoppers out on a rainy day. Which means that only the die-hards, ready to spend consumers venture out in the rain. So right off the bat, you have to work less to sell more. And on top of that, you don't lose those customers to 1. getting lost 2. getting tired 3. changing their mind. On a sunny day at an art show, shoppers will find something they like, but say 'I will buy it on the way out', or 'I will come back once I've found my friends'. And then they are gone forever (lost, tired, or changed their mind). In the rain, people are more impulsive, if they like it they will buy because they don't want to have to come back if they decide later they really want it.

So, yes in general, rainy days aren't that fun, but my experience shows that rainy days aren't that bad for sales, at least for the amount of work we have to do on those days.

Ok - time to fold the drying tent and pack it up for a rainy weekend show in London!

May 7, 2010

A Graceful Exit

Have you ever noticed that art galleries can seem intimidating? How about the stores that have a greeter at the door - does that intimidate you? A few years ago, a friend mentioned to me the idea of giving out Artist Directories as a way to gracefully let her non-customers out the door. And you know what? The construction on Princess / Ontario has done that for our Kollaboration show. At first I wasn't happy about this and then I remembered what it felt like to enter an intimidating gallery.

Providing a way for non-buyers to feel welcome to come and welcome to leave too is important so they will come back again when they are ready (or not ready) to buy. Giving them a way to gracefully decline makes them and you feel better; no uncomfortable moment. Whether you do it by handing them information for something else they may be interested in, sending an open invitation with no obligation, or even prompting an excuse for them (the weather, the construction), the KARMA in this has got to be good.

And with that said, NGB has our Mother's Day Open House this Sunday, so come on by, although it may be snowing... :-)

Apr 6, 2010

Collaboration is tricky for branding

Well, tomorrow is the end of a special project that I am apart of called Kollaboration Kingston. There's 16 artists working on several projects in small, medium and large scale works of art in all mediums to be shown at the Sandra Whitton Gallery for the month of May. It's been a truly amazing experience in many ways and I can't wait to see the outcome. (to read more about the project go the blog http://kollaborationkingston.blogspot.com/)

What I really found interesting about this project though is not the works of art being produced, but rather, the concept of collaboration and what it means to others and how it works too.

One of my main observations is that collaboration is easy for emerging artists and it's easy and inspiring for established artists. I think it's easy for emerging artists (and new entreprneuers in general too) because they (insert we, as I'm in this category too) haven't developed a hard core clientelle yet. We haven't branded ourselves yet, we still developing that. We still often venture all over the map, trying to find our niche and therefore we are willing to collaborate with anyone on anything, with hopes it may lead us down the path of success. Plus we are still in learning mode.

For established artists (and established businesses too) collaboration is a necessity to feed inspiration. They have been doing this long enough that they need to spice it up a bit. And they have such a dedicated following and clientelle now they don't have to worry about their brand. Their customers will be intrigued and follow them anywhere.

So, that leaves the mid-career artists and entrepreneurs, the ones stuck in isolation. They have struggled to find meaningful collaborations (from my view anyways) as they are at the point in their career that really defines them as an artist. They have a following, but still need to nuture them a bit. They have proven they know their art form, but still risk looking amateur. So collaborations can be very risky for them at this point in their career. What a hard place to be. The good news is that soon they will be so amazing they will all be established artists, with a diehard fan base and need the inspiration of collaboration.

My goal? Go from emerging to established... can it be done?