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An Essential Fundamental of Fine Art Marketing

Jennifer King

I spent a bit of time taking stock of my blog this week, both looking back at topics we’ve covered and looking ahead to subjects I’d like us to explore in the future. And it occurs to me that I’ve never talked about one of the most fundamental aspects of marketing for fine artists (and any other marketers for that matter): understanding your target audience. Identifying your target audience is essential because it drives all of your promotional and marketing efforts.

What is a target audience? This is the group of people who are most likely to become your customers, buyers, supporters, and promoters. These are the people you want to connect with because you can help each other—you have something to offer that interests and serves them and they can help you achieve your art-related goals.

Yes, of course, anyone can be a buyer of fine art. But from a marketing standpoint, you don’t want to try to connect with (market your artwork to) everyone. That’s just too huge. Instead, think about the qualities and characteristics of the sub-group of people who are most likely to be interested in your work. For example, is your work more appealing to women or men or both? To younger people or older? To people who like edgy, trendy things or people who are steeped in tradition? Casual people or formal people? And thinking in terms of your prices, who can afford to buy your work? You get the picture. You need to narrow down your target audience from “everyone in the universe” to a more manageable sub-group.

From there, you can start to map out where those people live, where they work and shop, where they vacation, what publications and media they consume, and so on. All of these are clues that will help you focus your promotional efforts (networking, social media, advertising, events, etc.) in a way that increases your chances of connecting with members of your target audience. This may sound blatantly obvious, but with so many options out there, you could easily waste a lot of time and energy on promoting yourself in places where your target audience doesn’t hang out, literally or figuratively.

Let me give you an example: You may be thinking that it would be great to be featured in an art magazine, but there are two distinct types of art magazines so you want to select the type that’s read by your target audience. If you’re trying to promote your fine art with an article, you want to go after a feature story in an art magazine designed for art collectors, such as Fine Art Connoisseur or Southwest Art. On the other hand, you would not want to go after a feature story in an art magazine designed for fellow fine artists, such as The Artist’s Magazine or Watercolor Magic, because it’s unlikely (true, not impossible) that other artists will want to purchase your work. Having said that, if you’re an art teacher offering classes or workshops, then art-instruction magazines are the ideal vehicle for you to connect with your target audience for your teaching services.

Any thoughts on defining or describing your target audience? Let’s connect!


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