What will make your art marketing more successful? It may not be what you think. It’s not about jumping on the newest social media platform or trying the latest software. It’s about adopting an experimental approach so that you stay flexible and resilient as you build a successful business—a business that is unique to you and your art.
Why you should adopt an experimental approach
You, your art, your buyers, your local community—everything about your art business is unique. As a matter of fact, every business is unique!
So it shouldn't be too surprising that there is no cookie-cutter marketing plan or a list of tactics that work for everyone.
That's why you need to develop your own marketing plan, based on your current knowledge of what works for you and your ideal buyer.
Then, as you implement your marketing plan, use an experimental approach, testing and adjusting as you go. Why?
Regular testing of your marketing ideas and analysis of the results gives you a way to understand what’s working and where you need to adapt. Then you can do more of the things that work, and less of the things that don’t.
Your artwork will evolve over time, and the analysis of your results will help you make future decisions about your work and your business.
When you adopt a testing mindset, you get in the habit of staying curious about what’s working in your business, which keeps you on your toes.
What the testing mindset looks like
When you adopt a testing mindset, these are the things you say to yourself:
“Everything is an experiment.”
Approach all of your marketing efforts as experiments. Your results will show you which way to go next. What if you try something and you don’t get the results you were hoping for? Your job then is to ask yourself: Did I have clear goals? Did I create the right plan to help me achieve those goals? What went well and what didn't, and what will I change next time? Remember: nothing you do is a failure, everything is a test, and your results help show you the right path.
“I don’t quit.”
A testing mindset doesn't allow you to try something once and then quit. With a testing mindset, you give your ideas time to actually bear fruit.
If you try something once and it doesn't work, look for the reasons. It could be that your audience has never seen you talk about that subject before. Or perhaps you haven’t got a very big audience yet —or they’re not very engaged.
Maybe you haven't got all the pieces in place to meet the goal you’re working on. For example, if your goal was to make 10 sales in two weeks during a promotion and you didn’t make the goal, check your sales process. Is it simple? Is it easy for people to figure out and make a purchase? If not, next time, you’d make sure your sales process was fine-tuned before launching your promotion.
Refine your process as you experiment and track your results. If something doesn’t work the first time, try again, and adjust as you go.
“There’s a lesson in here somewhere.”
In all of your marketing work, ask yourself at every turn: What have I learned from this? Once a month, for example, when you're looking at your marketing metrics, ask yourself what the lessons are.
At the end of every month, I look at my social media metrics and ask myself how much work I put into Instagram—and Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter—and I ask myself regularly: Was that marketing work worth it? What is the lesson that I'm learning here? I make some big decisions in my business based on those questions.
“I’m one step closer to success.”
If your efforts don’t pan out this time, it just means that you’re one step closer to success.
Don't allow yourself to interpret a setback as a big failure and tell yourself that you're not going to be successful. Resist the temptation to wallow in drama. Everything’s going to be okay!
Every effort you put in gets you one step closer to the success you're envisioning. Movement is the key. Keep experimenting.
“I take a logical approach.”
The best way to make business decisions is to combine the logical and the emotional.
If you’ve been trying something new for 3–6 months, tracking your results, and you see that your metrics aren't doing well and at the same time, you don't enjoy the work, it might be time to drop that tactic.
If the numbers look good but you hate the work, then you either push through it and do the work anyway, or find somebody to help you with the things you don’t enjoy. (For more on finding help, see this post.)
Just make sure you’re looking at your marketing from both a logical and an emotional point of view. Having the data and analyzing what works will help you make smarter decisions than you would if you relied solely on your preferences or your gut instincts. Data + gut instinct = a winning combination.
How to adopt a testing approach and what to track
Knowledge is power when it comes to marketing! Keep track of your results so that you have an objective way of measuring what is or isn’t working. In the Art Marketing Project membership, we get into the details of marketing metrics. Here’s a quick overview to give you an idea:
Keep track of your marketing metrics monthly. You can track:
- Website statistics on Google Analytics (things like what information is most popular on your website, how many visitors you’re getting and how long they stay, how much traffic each of your social media outlets is bringing to your site, and how many visitors subscribe to your newsletter)
- Number of social media followers and the amount of engagement (e.g. likes and shares)
- Number of sales and proportion of revenue that comes from each source
- Email marketing opens, clicks, and replies
Always debrief any new marketing promotion you try, because you need to take a logical approach to figure out whether it’s successful or not.
Set yourself a goal for how long your test is going to last. Don't let yourself bail early. If you’re trying something new, make sure you give it enough time to succeed.
Make sure you keep at it long enough to get some meaningful data too. You should be able to look back over a few months at least to see if there are positive benefits to the work.
Watch how you talk about your business. Catch yourself if you say something like: Oh, that didn't work. I'll never do that again.
Instead, train yourself to stay positive and say things like: That's interesting! What can I learn from that? How can I tweak it so that it works better next time?
Keep experimenting, tracking, and adjusting your course. And above all—stay curious!
No matter how much advice and coaching you receive, you have the final say about what works for you. If you’ve taken an experimental approach and recorded your findings, you’ll be in a much better position to make good decisions for your unique art business.
PS – In the Art Marketing Project membership, I help you design a plan that works for your unique art business and I teach you how to adapt as you go. Learn more about it: