June 2, 2016 | Alyson Stanfield

Awe Your Collectors With This Follow-up Plan

You might be leaving money on the table.

People who buy from you once are more likely to buy from you again than people who have never bought from you.

Converse shoes
©Eileen Downes, Carol’s Lucky Shoes. Collage, 18 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

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.

Take care of the people who have purchased from you. Show them you care now instead of contacting them only when you want something from them. [Tweet “Show collectors you care now instead of contacting them 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. Here’s a plan to awe your collectors – not just once, but over the course of your relationship.

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. Gallery artists envy you because that data isn’t usually shared with them.

Follow this plan to stay in touch with collectors.

Within 1 week: send a handwritten thank-you note in the mail.

Use note cards with images of your art on the front for all of your handwritten notes.

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: send an email.

In this message, 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.

Carnival picture
©Catherine Day, Carnival: Fly. Digital pigment prints on assembled layers of silk and satin. Used with permission.

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.

Three months: send something in the 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 note cards with your art on them.

Twice a year: your choice.

After you have followed up with email and regular mail communications within three or four months, your collectors can graduate to your VIP list that you take care of twice a year.

Again, what you do here is up to you.

Your collectors might receive a special mailing on an off-holiday (Arbor Day, anyone?) or their birthdays.

Or do something crazy like calling them on the phone. Tell them you were just thinking about them.

Nothing strikes awe in someone like the element of surprise.

Gwen Meharg abstract
©Gwen Meharg, New Ground 2.1 New Ground. Acrylic on watercolor paper, 22 x 30 inches. Used with permission.

Your Turn

How do you awe your collectors?

23 comments add a comment

    GREAT article, Alyson, Thanks so much!

  • Excellent advice. It is easy to forget this (or lose the info) when the sale is done. Buyers have to be treated consistently so I’m experimenting with Zoho CRM to do regular follow ups. There is a free version to experiment with.

  • Thank you for this article! When a buyer pays you with a check (so you have their mailing address), but does NOT sign up for your newsletter, is it OK to mail postcards, etc. to that person? After an art show last year I did send a thank you note to that buyer. But since then I haven’t been sure about sending event postcards because I didn’t have express permission to *keep* her address and do so. Not sure if there are any legalities or just conventions about this situation.

    • Lisa: I think it might be iffy in Canada for some reason – some laws around that. But it’s perfectly fine in the US.

      Technically, you already have a relationship with them. Most people would add to the email list, but I think that’s iffier than postcards.

    • Hi Lisa,

      like Alyson said Canada has some very strict rules. If your customer has not opted in for your email list you can only send them emails for two years after their purchase. If you are in Canada do not add them yourself to your email list. Canada has some hefty fines for that. But there is no restriction on snail mail in Canada. Your postcards will be fine for ever. (smile)

  • I’ve had the same experience as Lisa. I also have collectors I reply to on Facebook who haven’t bought again in more than 3 or 4 years. I don’t have their physical addresses. They’re already on my newsletter list but I can’t seem to reach them beyond the occasional like they send on a facebook post.

  • Thank sooo much for this…I am not the best at this and I have to be. I connect with most on FB or thru my newsletter. I do send out personal cards at Christmas time. The first year I digitally enhance my art/their commissioned piece to make it personal and festive . After that it’s a card with my art on it with a personal message inside. I will follow your advice tho and make this a priority….thanks!

  • Nice and simple, this plan. I like it!

  • Alyson your suggestions are excellent. But here’s something a little different. My collector bought one of my paintings in 2014. I thanked her and the gallery owner who did not charge any commission. In January of this year she joined a gallery as a curator for all exhibits. She invited me and a few other artists to show in Evanston (about 30 miles from Chicago). Didn’t sell anything. In the meantime I finished a painting that I had not worked on for years. I was influenced by the news of the Zika virus. This painting has mosquitoes swarming in it with a blue bird ready to pounce. Although it has humor in it, like many of my other works, it doesn’t include Brenda Starr who is almost in
    all my paintings. Do I send a jpg of this to her even though it’s not the usual work? Also she has just curated another show called “Swarm.” I would like to share it with her but am not sure since it is different in the sense of the images. It’s too late to get into the opening. Please give me your feedback. Thanks so much!

  • Linda

    Fantastic article, thank you! I’ve saved it to my computer. I have a list for people to sign up to receive update e-mails and usually a few days after someone purchases my art I send out a thank you note. I make notecards featuring my art (blank inside) and sell them at my shows and use these as thank you notes. I like the idea of postcards, I’ve been thinking of possibly making some to use as invitations to exhibits, announcements of new paintings, etc.

  • Thank you, Alyson! I’d never have thought of it…

  • Mesa

    Thank you, Alyson!

  • Myra

    I have a particular line of jewelry that is designed around antique Victorian/Edwardian Meerschaum pipes (pipedreamer.net) This is my series that has attracted the most collectors. I have about 10 collectors in that group now, some of whom own 14 and 15 pieces of my work. I’ve created 164 necklaces in that series so far. A few years ago, I hosted a Thank You party for these special customers. There was no selling of jewelry that day, just thanks and lots of fun for all of us. They each wore one of their pipe necklaces.

    Since they didn’t know each other at that time, I made special name tags for each person in the shape of a Meerschaum hand shaped pipe. We enjoyed a Victorian Tea with authentic treats from the era. I also arranged for us to visit a world class collector of Meerschaum pipes in the Chicago area and we drove by caravan to view his collection of over 2000 pipes. He regaled us with great stories about collecting, and wonderful histories of particular treasures. Everyone loved it. It was my favorite party of all time.

  • Hi, I would worry that I might come across as vying for another commission, especially as there are so many artists doing my subject of pets and animal art – how do you show you care, you’re interested in them and not just hoping for more work? (No surprise I am just about keeping my bills in the black!!)
    Thank you!
    Best wishes all.

  • This had lots of helpful ideas in it. I do many of these things…but hadn’t considered using my own work as the thank you notes to send..now it’s on my list to create them.
    I printed this blog post out to make myself a plan!
    Also, the last suggestion…have to think about that one. Feels a little self involved/intrusive to me? But that feeling often gets in the way of me promoting myself and my work more effectively! Going to think on that one.
    Thank you…as always.

  • I’ve had a problem collecting snail mail addresses from people who buy in person at an art show. Etsy buyers are easy but how do you entice folks to give you their mail address – seems hard enough to get email addresses from some folks :)

  • If people buy something significant from me, especially an original painting, I find one easy way to get a snail mail address is to say, “May I have your address? I like to send thank you notes.” I suspect that a real thank you note is such a rarity anymore – most people freely give me their snail mail address. Half the time, I think they are just curious to see if I actually will send one! I also think that for most of us, getting something via snail mail that isn’t a bill (or junk) is a wonderful surprise. Also, most people who I send postcards to tell me how much they love them. A postcard with a colorful image of art on it? I see them on refrigerators! :) Hope this helps.

  • I love this advice and article. Road map action plans ROCK! Thanks for this really great breakdown, Alyson <3 I am bookmarking this page for future reference!

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