How Artists Can Master the Follow Up

Turning the leads you have into orders takes hard work and persistence, but it can reap huge rewards for your creative business.


BMAC 2012 aisle


Recently, an artist exhibited at a large trade show in New York City, and he reflected on his experience. He mentioned that he got a lot of attention – in fact, quite a few show attendees were raving about his unusual line of furniture and home décor. However, he said, “After such a great reception, I got surprisingly few orders.”

It turns out that this artist didn’t follow up on the contacts that he made at the show, so he has lost out on business that he didn’t pursue. He has a stack of business cards from buyers which hasn’t been touched since he returned from the show a few months ago. He is sitting on a goldmine but doesn’t realize it.

There are so many enticing designs and products at trade shows to tempt buyers that it can become overwhelming. Many times, gallery buyers walk the show first, looking at new lines and taking in an overview before strategically placing orders for those products they feel will sell best for them.

They may pick up your brochure or line sheet, but not return to your booth, or forget entirely that they loved your work and felt it was just perfect for their store. But you can still capture those orders by regular follow-up techniques, and land the account at a future date.

With so much competition in the marketplace, artists must do post-show follow up to keep their collection in front of potential wholesale customers. In general, it takes 5-12 contacts to land the average sale, so you must be persistent in contacting your target buyers after they hand you their business card.

You might send an email, and follow that up a week later with a phone call. Put the buyer on your direct mail list to receive postcards on a monthly basis. Send them information about new designs. Invite them to events featuring your work, and share press that you have gotten. There are many ways to make your work become familiar to potential buyers.

Trade shows are like a launching pad for your small business. Besides writing orders, they are a place to make connections. Gather information about your prospective buyers, and jot important facts on the back of their business card. Use that information when you contact them after the show, to remind them of your conversation and get your products back in front of them to consider again.

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