Get Better Results with a Personal Plea

Bulk email messages can hit a lot of people at once, but your personal notes will elicit action.
We've become too dependent on growing our email lists and sending easy messages to vast numbers of people. This is the most popular method to communicate with your contact list, but it shouldn't be the only way you get your message out.

Barbara Downs, An Inviting Leaf. Painted steel and wire mesh
©2009 Barbara Downs, An Inviting Leaf. Painted steel and wire mesh, 60 x 60 x 36 inches.

Whether you're telling people about a workshop, inviting them to an opening, or announcing a sale, a personal email (or letter or phone call) will garner far more attention than a mass announcement.

 To personalize your communications, consider the following tips.
Write to a single person.
Don't write as if you're talking to a large group. Write with one person in mind. How would you speak to her if you met in the same room? Use that more relaxed and casual voice than what you'd write in a proclamation. It's more trustworthy.
You can use the same framework as a starting point for personalized email, but you must take care to ensure that each recipient's message is unique to them. Use his or her name, mention anything personal you've shared (like lunch), and remove references that don't apply.
Use a salutation.
Addressing someone by name isn't just professional, it is also the polite way to start an email. Please be sure to double check the spelling of the person's name before you press the Send button. You instantly lose credibility when you misspell a name.
Be clear about what action you’re looking for.
What do you want recipients to do as a result of your email? Don't make them guess and don't beat around the bush. More importantly, don't command or demand anything. “Please post this on your blog” might sound polite, but it's still a command. Instead of commanding, ask. But asking doesn't have to be in the form of a question, as evidenced by these examples:

  • I know how busy you are, but I would really appreciate your help [doing xyz].
  • If you have a couple of minutes, would you mind forwarding this to people who might be interested?
  • If you know anyone who might like to attend, I'd be grateful if you would share this with them.

Customize the subject line.
Your subject line shouldn't sound like a promotion. It should read as if you're writing to a friend.
When you want recipients of your communications to take action, send a sincere, personal request.

Business practices such as those described above are part of cultivating buyers, collectors, and fans for your art. If you'd like more of these types of people in your life, join us for the No-Excuse Art Biz Bootcamp.

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7 thoughts on “Get Better Results with a Personal Plea”

  1. Hello Alyson
    Amazingly I was doing exactly what you have advised only just last night! Writing a LOT of individual personal e mails.
    I have a new show which I am promoting. It is only open for 14 days but as it’s part of the prestigious Liverpoool Biennial (UK) I am very excited and definitely need to get as much interest as I can.
    Liverpool is 2 hours away from my home and a few months ago I had no contacts in that city.
    So over the last couple of months I have visited Liverpool twice. I have chatted to artists that I have met at other galleries, and at the Biennial opening conference. Now I have e mailed personal e mails either mentioning something that we talked about or about their own art. (I have obviously visited their websites.) I am so greatful because now people are asking for showcards to distribute on my behalf!
    I have gone through my e mail address book and selected out gallerists , curators, artists and friends that I am sending personal e mails to. I have then sent bulk e mails to the others.
    But At the top of my bulk e mail I have added,
    “Please accept my apologies for this mass e mail. However please do believe that I have hand-picked you to send this invitation to.
    I will be showing new sculptural works and one video piece in this show.
    Best wishes
    IF I have any spare time(!) before the show I will send more of the bulk list people a personal e mail too.
    I wholeheartedly agree that nurturing relationships is a long term project.
    Also just to confirm that yes I have had replies to every one of my personal e mails. This is especialy good as it’s helping me to feel supported and nurtured in the run up to my show.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Good job, Kirsty! I wish I could be there and see the results of your efforts. Do stay in touch and let me know how it goes.

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    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Sarah: I often use this method when writing single emails (not hundreds at once). But you can easily use this method using MailChimp or wherever else your email contacts are stored.

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