Turning One-Time Buyers Into True Collectors

If you’ve ever sold a single painting, sculpture, ceramic piece, jewelry item, or other artwork, you know the thrill of connecting with someone who genuinely loves your work. It’s an honor when someone decides to take one of your works of art home, isn’t it? I’m always humbled when someone sees such a special quality in something I’ve created that he or she wants to live with it and look at it every day.

Now, wouldn’t it be great for those special fans to take home more than one work of art? Maybe one every couple of years? That's a true collector, and true collectors are the ultimate goal. After all, it’s actually much easier to persuade someone who is already a big fan of your work to purchase more pieces than it is to find someone new who connects with your art on the same level. 

If you’re selling your work directly to the public, there are at least four ways you can encourage one-time buyers to become true collectors:

1. Incentivize them. Even before the very first sale, you can start promoting the idea of becoming a collector by offering a special price for purchasing more than one piece. When I’m selling my own work, I’ve often found myself talking to someone who can’t decide between two of my paintings, so I suggest that he or she take both. Of course, I offer the person a really sweet deal, as in 10 to 20% off the cost of each one. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather sell two pieces for slightly less than just one at full price. And believe me, this really works.

2. Thank them. Whenever people purchase your work, be sure to get both their mailing addresses and their e-mail addresses so you can maintain a relationship with them into the future. The first thing you’ll want to do is to write a quick thank-you note and mail it off to the new owner. Just a brief message expressing how much you hope they enjoy their new artwork is enough, but if you want to take it one step further, consider adding a small gift. I recently met a watercolor painter who uses her high-end printer and high-res jpegs to make five notecards of each painting she sells, which she then gives to the person who purchases the painting. (Her name and website are on the back of each notecard, which is another great promotional idea!) What a thoughtful, yet inexpensive, way to express your gratitude.

Happy Belly, watercolor, 31 x 22" by Amanda Schuster

3. Keep in touch with them. You’ll also want to add your new collectors’ e-mail addresses to your e-newsletter mailing list so you can keep them informed of all the great stuff happening in your art career. Every e-newsletter will contain images of works—new and old—that are available for sale, and you never know when your one-time buyers will see something else they just have to have.

Pink Peony, giclee, 16 x 20" by Sally Painter

4. Reward them. Occasionally, it might be nice to offer a special deal only for those people who’ve already purchased one or more works of art from you. (This is where it comes in handy to have created a separate e-mail mailing list of collectors.) You might offer some percentage off the purchase of another new work or reproduction. You could also do a gift-with-a-purchase deal, for example, by giving them a small reproduction or a catalog of your work when they purchase another original at full price. Or you might just want to reward them and make them feel special by doing a prize drawing. It won’t generate more sales, but it will definitely generate goodwill.

If you sell the majority of your work through galleries, you may be thinking that none of this applies to you, but I see no reason why your galleries wouldn’t want to partner with you on incentivizing and rewarding repeat collectors of your work. It’s obviously just as good for your galleries as it is for you, so ask your gallery reps to help you implement at least some of these ideas.

What else do you do to encourage true collectors? Let’s connect!

P.S. Want to know more about connecting with fans and nurturing healthy relationships with collectors? Check out my new art marketing program today. Art Marketing Weekly will help you attract prospective collectors like a magnet!

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