How Artists can Cultivate Referrals

selling at a trade showWant some referral business? These leads are about the best you can get.


It’s much easier to sell your artwork to repeat customers than it is to acquire new customers. So it makes sense to start building relationships with your customer base to solicit that repeat business. At the same time, you are in a position to ask them for referrals.

Referrals are like gold – warm leads from a trusted source. Getting referral leads allows you to focus on potential customers who are much more likely to buy. And how great is that?!

Here are two ways to obtain referrals:

Ask your customers

When you first make a sale, make sure to get your customer’s name and contact information. This is easy when making an online sale. You can also collect names in a guest book at an open studio, art and craft fair, or other event. Stay in touch with those existing customers with a thank you note, email newsletter, direct mail, invitation to a future show, and on social media.

Let your customers know from the start that your business is often referral-driven. Include that information in your brochure, and use it in your sales talk. Mention it in your newsletters. This helps customers know up front that you would like to be recommended to a friend or associate of theirs.

After you have established a business relationship, approach good clients and ask if they know of other people who might be potential customers for you. In return, some artists offer discounts, free merchandise, or other thank you gifts.

Still, customers want to know that any friend they refer will not be hassled by you soliciting their business. So it is best to present guidelines which you set for yourself to assure them of your professionalism.

You may want to let your customers know that anyone they refer will get only an email and follow up phone call from you. If that person has no interest, you won’t contact them again. That will help your client know that they can give you referrals without worry.




Work with a strategic partner

Artists can work with other artists, or other businesspeople of all types to give referrals to each other.  Work with someone whom you trust, and who you feel good recommending. It helps if their work is complementary to yours but doesn’t compete, or if they share the same target audience.

You may not want to share your mailing list with your referral partner, but you can use your list to help promote them. It can be incredibly powerful to give your recommendation, with a testimonial and link to their website in a newsletter, blog post or other communication with your customers.

Business professionals work together all the time to help each other gain business. This is a fundamental part of networking. Artists can use these smart strategies to drive referrals from both existing customers, and referral partners.



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