Deep Thought Thursday: When do you give up?

Today’s question comes from Nancy Wylie, who asks:

How do I know who to keep and who to delete or how long do you keep someone on your mailing list before you take them off?  I am tired of sending postcards to a show to people who never show up and haven’t over the years.  When is it time to purge the list and how long do you wait?

Well, what do you think? When do you give up?

Image (c) Nancy Wylie, Peaceful Creek

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13 thoughts on “Deep Thought Thursday: When do you give up?”

  1. In this case you ask. Send a self addressed stamped post card asking the people in question on your list to return it if they still wish to hear from you. Or do some other form of asking. In the long run it will cost less than sending cards to people who do not want them.

  2. Michael Lynn Adams

    Unless someone asks to be removed I would never take him or her off my mailing list. The cost of printing and mailing a postcard is a small investment for a potentially great return. You simply do not know the impact that the periodic contact has on people, even those you never see at events. If I was on Nancy’s mailing list – I am not now, but would because her work is nice and I would be interested in what she in doing – she would never see me at events in Colorado. I live in California and have only been in Colorado once in the last four decades. However, I do have family, and many colleagues who either live or visit Colorado regularly. I would certainly suggest to them to go to Nancy’s shows. And they in turn have their own network. In today’s media blitzed world we don’t only compete with other artists for attention, but with thousands of other messages and distractions. The truism “out of sight, out of mind” is a more relivent now than ever. If you still feel compelled to purge your mailing list, one thing you can do is put a brief statement to go to your Web site and use your contact form request to be removed from the list.

  3. …ten years ago I stopped sending paper invites in the hopes that many would be convinced to accept email as an acceptable alternative…though many still are not electronically reachable, I feel that artists should move in this direction in order to encourage less wastage…the more of us that do this, the more collectors will be encouraged to accept this…plus, no purging really necessary …

  4. One of the greats of the advertising biz (think it was David Oglivy) once said that seventy cents of every advertising dollar is wasted, but we don’t know which seventy cents. I don’t think I’d ever purge a name entirely, unless a piece came back undeliverable. or the person requested removal. BTW, Nancy does terrific stuff.

  5. Good point, Michael! I totally agree. I have friends who only do email–I do both, and I encourage people signing my mailing list sign up for both. I send out a card about twice a year. I send out email notices more often. But there’s no substitute for an image you can hold in your hand. I can’t tell you how many times people have seen me at a show & said, “You know, I have one of your cards on my fridge from way back when”. Also, at my last open house, someone came in, postcard in hand, saying they had signed up to be on my list 2 years ago at a show that I only did once & they made the effort to come in a big storm to my open house & bought several prints. Every time I do a mailing, I worry about the cost, because my list is quite large now….but the return is worth it. Christine

  6. I’d also be very hesitant to remove a name from my mailing list. I send out periodic email updates to my address book, and a more select group get quarterly postcards. I would never remove someone who has purchased art in the past, and that’s most of my mailing list. Recently I stepped into a home decor store that is on my mailing list and saw that they had pinned my latest postcard up behind the till – how’s that for advertising?

  7. Great timing on this question as I have been wondering about my list. Several months ago I sent out a newsletter and someone that had signed up almost 10 yrs ago contacted me about a price she saw on my blog…the newsletter led her to my blog and website…within a few days that piece was on its way to a new home. As for my emailing list I have never removed someone….unless it comes back undeliverable. If they wish to no longer receive my newsletter all they have to do is click unsubscribe at the bottom of the mailing and they are removed…I have only had 2 people do this over the past 10 years. I think of it as I didn’t actually ask them to sign up…they choose to do so and they can decide if they no longer wish to hear from me. My occassional snail mailings are hand selected according to what’s happening, when or where….and everyone that buys from me receives a Thank You note. As someone as already mentioned….Out of sight, out of mind! This question has just freed me up to move on to something creative rather than worrying about my mailing list now.

  8. Marilyn Sholin

    Years ago I learned to never remove a name unless it comes back as undeliverable. I had a name on my postcard mailing list for over ten years that never called my studio or responded to anything. Suddenly she calls and places one of my largest orders of that month. Her comment when I asked her “why so long” was that she just wasn’t ready before but always kept my postcards and my name was there in front of her. When she could afford me years later, I was at the top of the list to work with. That taught me a lot. And she became a regular client also for years after that.

  9. I think there are several points already mentioned that you could use to your advantage. I’d send a card and return envelope asking for updated info. Make a mention about how you would like to move as many recipients as possible to email recipients (thereby saving you money in the future) to cut down on the usage of natural resources. I’d make check boxes that say something to the effect, “Yes, please keep me on your mailing list!” and another saying, “Please send future announcements via email instead, my email address is…” and then optionally one that says “I’m no longer interested, please remove me…” The last one I say is optional because in reality, people rarely take the time to respond if they are no longer interested. I’d make it clear in your copy that even if they have been on the list from day one and even if none of their info changes that they still MUST respond in order to receive future mailings. That way, those who are truly interested will definitely respond. Your may even send this sort of thing out twice giving everyone ample time to respond. This will be a bit costly initially, but I believe it will save you a lot in the long run if your mailing list is very large at all.

  10. Like many people here I only take people off that I know have died, expressed a desire to be removed, etc. I have had more than one experience of someone showing up many years after no response to do significant business….so you never know. It’s a small price to pay and many of the people on my list say they save my postcards, leave them up on office bulletin boards, etc. I have also walked into shops that have my card up in plain view so it’s all good. I use email, too, but find my snail mail postcard list to be the most effective in bringing actual sales, by the way.

  11. There does come a point where a postal mailing list can become too large if you’ve actively been adding people to it for years running. If you mail to 1500+ people it becomes almost impossible to personalize any of the postcard announcements just for the time constraint issues. What is an optimum size list? I think this is something each artist has to answer for themselves. Interestingly, most commercial art galleries make a conscious decision not to keep growing their mailing list much past 3000 or so in my experience. Of course they tend to mail out announcements more frequently than individual artists do. But they eventually make a decision to opt for “quality” addresses over quantity.

  12. I wonder if the language “I am tired of …” is something that might be examined to some benefit. It jumped out at me – and I know most of us use this without thinking about it.

  13. Wow, thank you all for your kind words and compliments on my work! I really appreciate your advise and stories of buyers coming in after so much time. My initial thoughts were to never take a name off my list, but the people that “I am tired of” not coming to shows are the close friends or relatives who always ask about what I am doing but never ever come to my shows. I am glad that Becky pointed that out as it does sound pretty negitive, but I am only sharing this frustration with you guys. I suppose that they may be the ones that will actually buy some day! I am glad I asked the question. I still need to know though how to prioritze my list as I can’t always afford to send to the whole list (it’s pretty big), so if you have any thoughts on that I would love it. Thanks!

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Your Artist Mailing List: Rethinking + Assessing

Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

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You’ll also receive my regular news for your art business.

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