Señor Cigar on Display
(Click on Image)
I’ve spent almost my entire adult life in business, except my time in the Marines, and I’ve come to really appreciate my customers (in the art world we call our best customers collectors). Collectors are hardcore buyers who typically buy multiple pieces of art over a lifetime. It’s very hard to gather a following of collectors and each one is precious to me. Usually when someone buys a piece of my art they will buy more and transition from buyer to collector. When a customer buys a fine art print (even a greeting card) from me they are elevated to VIP Patron of the Arts status.
To find new fine art collectors requires effort, marketing, and self-promotion. I market and self-promote a lot on Facebook, probably to the detriment of my personal friends (but if they want to see my photos for free then marketing and self-promotion go part & parcel). Since I created my Facebook business page (fan page) Indochine Photography I’ve redirected many of those posts there (but my friends still get pretty well inundated with my sales pitch). My business page is fairly new but has already garnered 5,800 Likes from around the world (pretty cool).
I throw a wide net these days with my marketing efforts. I developed a marketing plan with my partner MailChimp to bring people (potential customers) to my free monthly newsletter. The goal of my newsletter is to encourage people with similar interests to follow my adventure and in so doing become interested in my art. I market this effort through Facebook paid ads and through my blog, and I’m currently focusing on the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and the Philippines (I have a surprising number of people now following me from the Philippines).
The photography business, like any other creative art business, thrives or dies based on exposure. If people don’t see my work they can’t buy it, and if I don’t have buyers I go broke (Business Basics 101: No customers, no business). Now that I’m on the road 365-days a year I’m forced to do everything online, I don’t have the luxury of meeting my customers (and potential customers) face-to-face in brick & mortar galleries, restaurants, or at social gatherings. In the old days direct-mail campaigns were considered successful with a 2% response rate, with Facebook paid ads I’m averaging a 4.56% engagement rate.
I couldn’t be any happier with my results at MailChimp; my newsletter, VIP updates, and non-VIP updates are all performing well above industry (photography business) averages. Currently my emails are enjoying a 55.2% open rate (versus an industry average of 19.4%) and have a click rate of 5.4% (versus an industry average of 2.4%). The business analytics confirm that I’m doing something right: interesting content, proper scheduling, and consistency. These numbers may seem low to the business neophyte, but trust me they are rather extraordinary.
Another way I market myself and my business is through word of mouth (and this is one of the best ways to gain exposure with a larger audience). This is where you come in—you have creditability with your family, friends, and co-workers. If you like my photography, my blog posts and articles, tips on travel, and lifestyle insights, then please share your thoughts with others. If you’re not a subscriber to my free newsletter consider becoming one. If you haven’t purchased a fine art print from me think about it the next time you want to add artwork to your home or office wall space. And as always—THANK YOU.
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer, World Traveller
La Serena, Chile