Never Stop Showing Your Gratitude

“You’re making a what video?” I asked, thinking I had misunderstood my friend.

“A thank-you video,” she said, as if everyone knows what that is.

Ummm, not me. So, since I’d never heard of a thank-you video until that moment last Thursday, I asked her to enlighten me.

This artist friend of mine explained that whenever a new collector buys one of her works of art, instead of sending a handwritten thank-you note—which is still an awesome idea—she uses her phone to shoot a short video. She usually includes a peek at her studio, talks a little bit about herself, shows whatever’s currently on the easel, and then looks into the camera selfie-style and thanks the person for choosing one of her paintings, making sure to mention both the collector and the painting by name. To send the video to the buyer, she plunks it in Dropbox and zaps it off to the person’s email address.

I told my friend how much I loved this idea because it’s so personal and immediate. She answered, “Yeah, and it’s cheap, and it takes less than 10 minutes to do.”

Wow. That’s good marketing!

When you think about it, we go to great lengths to build awareness, attract attention, nurture relationships with people, and finally to make a sale. It would be such a shame to let the relationship end there. Instead, after saying “thank you” right after a purchase, we should stay in communication. Even better is to continue to show our appreciation because we never know when a first-time fan will become a repeat collector.

Custom printed phone case with artwork by Tate Hamilton

With that in mind, here are several ideas for continuing to express gratitude for those who’ve bought one or more works of art. I’m thinking it would be nice to stage a “customer appreciation month” once a year, which could be at the holidays but would be equally nice in, say, June, when it’s least expected. To manage this idea well, it’s probably best to keep your buyers’ names and contact info in a separate collectors-only database, as well as including them in your monthly newsletter e-mail list. These are my top four ideas:

1. Giving “first dibs.” This has worked really well for Ashley Longshore and others. The basic idea is that you create a new collection of work, or even a new collection of reproductions, and you notify your collectors first. Give them a limited amount of time to snap up these pieces before they’re released to the public. Be sure to build up the excitement with a few preliminary emails before the big unveiling. Cost: $0

2. Creating artful gifts. By now, I’m sure you know you can have your artwork printed on just about everything from tote bags to shower curtains, so why not order up a bunch of them for your best collectors? The beauty of these gifts is that they’re useful, and they’ll remind your buyers of you and your artwork every time they see the throw pillow or phone case or coffee mug you’ve given them. Cost: $30 to $60 per gift (For a less expensive alternative, you could order goodie bags with a sticker showing a representative artwork and your name. Cost: $5 to $10 per gift)

Custom printed throw pillow with artwork by Jennifer Lommers
and phone case with artwork by Linda Woods

3. Holding a contest. Who doesn’t love a good giveaway? Send out a special newsletter to your collectors showing the work—or selection of works—of art you’re giving away, and ask everyone who’s interested to email back if they’d like to participate. It could be an original or a reproduction, although collectors will be more impressed and appreciative of a bigger-ticket item. Be sure to follow up with an announcement of the winner’s first name. Multiply your gratitude by giving away more than one piece. (Cost: $100+)

4. Offering a preferred-collector discount. My fourth idea does double-duty by not only expressing gratitude but encouraging more sales, too! Offer your preferred collectors the chance to purchase any works of their choice at a healthy discount, such as 20% to 40%. This would be especially nice in the fall when people are starting to think about purchasing gifts and sprucing up their homes for the holidays. (Cost: varied, but offset by sales)

A goodie bag with your own sticker is a great inexpensive gift

Collectors are special people, and we couldn’t live without them. Show them how much they mean to you by saying thank you again and again.

So, what are your ideas for expressing gratitude? I'd love to read them in the comments box below. Let's connect!

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