People who buy from you once are more likely to buy from you again than people who have never bought from you.
And … It’s less effort to nurture relationships with people who already know, like, and trust you than to find new people to share your art with. Acquiring customers, in marketing terms, is a long and costly process.
Therefore, it makes sense to take care of the people who have purchased from you. Show them you appreciate them now instead of contacting them later only when you want something from them.
One of the biggest mistakes artist-entrepreneurs make is not following up with people who have given them money.
If you’ve been lax in this area, you might be leaving money on the table.
If you sell art from your studio, rather than through a gallery, you have no excuses for not following up appropriately. You have the name and contact information of your collectors.
Here’s a plan to awe your collectors—not just once, but over the course of your relationship.
Within 1 Week of Sale: Express Gratitude
Send a thank-you note in the mail. Use notecards with images of your art on them for all of your handwritten notes.
This is yet another opportunity to put your art in front of people who appreciate it. The cards, of course, have your contact info or website on the back.
Don’t exploit this as an opportunity to ask for anything else. Thank-you notes are for expressing gratitude only, not for additional sales or requests.
Two Weeks Later: Ask to Connect
In this email, suggest to your collector that you would like to stay in touch through social media, if you haven’t already connected there.
Explain, too, that you send a regular email with updates about your art and ask if they would like to receive it. If they are added to the list, you can keep the relationship warm through your planned emails.
If they don’t get on that list, they should receive a personalized sequence of email and regular mail to ensure they are not forgotten.
After 3 or 4 Months: Use Real Mail
Earlier, you sent a thank-you note in the mail. At this point, it’s your choice. It doesn’t matter what you send or say as long as it’s from the heart.
You might send a postcard, a photocopy of an article that was written about your work, or an invitation to an exhibition.
If the purchase was substantial, you might consider a small gift, such as a set of notecards with your art on them.
Twice a Year: Choose Your Action
After you have followed up with email and regular mail communications within three or four months, your collectors can graduate to your VIP list.
You’ll want to make sure you are in touch with your VIPs at least twice a year.
Your collectors might receive a special mailing on an off-holiday (Arbor Day, anyone?) or their birthdays. Or perhaps they’d like a phone message or short video recording in which you share only that you’re thinking of them and are hoping they’re happy and well.
Don’t overthink this because that could lead to procrastination. It’s the thought that counts! Your collectors will be impressed by an unexpected contact from an artist they admire.
This post was originally published on June 2, 2016, and has been updated with the original comments intact.