We artists are most definitely in "the business of people" which is why paying attention to our relationships with people is integral to our success. I have already posted about the "do's and don'ts" of building relationships within your art community in The Soft Approach, but I liked this excerpt below from Steamfeed because it outlined a few specific actions that we can take with our art business in mind (let's do it right so we can all get paid right?) . I think these actions mentioned below are easily overlooked by artists, when we get busy and overwhelmed but they can really create a positive impression and strengthen the connections we have with people.
"Create An Evergreen Experience. Once you build meaningful relationships, you don’t stop there. You must continue to show them that you care and that when they have an interaction with you, they are better off each time. This can be done by simply staying in touch once your product has been delivered or your service completed. You can start by sending them a card in the mail thanking them for their business and how much you enjoyed getting to know them. You can get together for coffee or lunch. I have done this with many of my clients and it really seems to add a depth to our ongoing business relationship. These human touch points can mean the world to them. You can also take advantage of your online tools like social media, email newsletters, etc. to keep you in front of them. This step for me has been huge in getting repeat business because I make it about them, not what I am offering."
Thank-you cards. Recently I started to sell prints of my work on-line. I have been having lots of fun mailing these prints out but it does mean that I don't get a chance to have a face-to-face with my clients. So to make up for that missed opportunity I have been doing three things to create interactions with my clients. The first step is to follow-up with an email or facebook message to say thanks. Then I send an email once the print has been shipped so that the customer knows that it's on it's way. I usually ask a few questions in this email to start a dialogue and get feedback about my product and service. I have received great suggestions and feedback this way!
The third action I take is to slip a hand-written note of thanks into the package before it ships out. If you decide to take this step - do it well! It's an opportunity to make a lasting impression. So no scribbled notes on paper scraps! That would seem like an after thought not a thoughtful gesture!
The options with thank-you cards are quite endless. But here are a few ideas to get you on your way : )
1. Buy some plain envelopes and plain paper and then either buy (Etsy has many great stamps) or hand carve your own stamp. Stamped stationery has a nice look to it and don't be afraid to be creative with the colour of the envelope and paper.
2. Purchase some fancy thank-you cards from an artist or designer that you like.
3. Order some postcards or greeting cards with your artwork on them. I like to use Moo because you can order different images on each card instead of having to buy 20 of the same design.
The last gem I took away from reading that excerpt was about meeting up with your clients for coffee. I know you are busy, but you need to remember to take breaks so look at this as an opportunity to get out of the studio and check out a new cafe in town as well as work on your business relationships. I live in Vancouver and there is always a new coffee shop to check out, plus many that are conveniently located near the studio. Meeting clients at these spots definitely sets a different tone from studio visits and I generally find that people are more at ease in a cafe.
*If you are worried about how much you'll have to talk about, you can focus on asking them questions about their work or art collection etc.
Go get 'em tiger! And remember like the dandruff shampoo commercial says - You never get a second chance to make a first impression!"