Plan a Wildly Successful Open Studio Event or Arts Walk

Planning to host an Open Studio or participate in an Arts Walk this fall to catch holiday shoppers? Event promotion and art marketing has come a long way from mailing postcards and plastering paper flyers all over town. There are many other ways to get out the word and make your event a smashing success.  Many of them are free.

It takes about seven “touches” to get the attention of prospective shoppers and inspire them to take action or attend an event. Here are some ways to do just that:

1. Mailing

The cost of postage has risen dramatically, but the price of printing 500 postcards or even fancy invitations has really never been cheaper. Select an oversized envelope, avoid using #10 envelopes – they all contain bills! Focus on making your message personal and elegant, such as using a collectible stamp and a handwritten envelope that looks like an invitation. Small gold seals are a great addition. Clean your list on a regular basis and don’t mail to addresses that haven’t opened your emails in more than two years old.

Be sure to remind those regular customers that the invitation is open for them to bring a guest or two. Often invitations look so formal that they seem to exclude that option. Welcome, everyone!

2. Print Advertising

Print ads in local publications can be an effective way to promote your most expensive pieces along with your event. A professionally taken photo is worth at least a thousand words! Check the reader profile and geographic distribution of the publications you are considering to make sure you reach households that fall into your target customer profile.

3. Facebook & Instagram Advertising

This is one of the best promotional tools available. For 20 cents (or even less), you can reach customers or prospects by occupation, zip code, interests, friends or education.  While you’re spending more than a dollar on each mailed piece (whether it’s opened or not) Facebook provides you with the “right” customer and only charges you when they click.  Don’t you wish the post office worked that way? What a deal.

4. Email

Email newsletters and announcements keep you in touch with your list all year long, as a weekly “drip marketing” campaign. Build your list further by using a guestbook at your studio when shoppers stop by, making sure that they are “opting-in” to your newsletter. Sending emails unsolicited (considered spamming) can get you blacklisted if you are are using a mail management service like Constant Contact. A good list is about 2,500 customers or active prospects. Use images and links in your newsletter to drive readers to your website, Instagram or Facebook page.

5. Partner Up

Invite one or more other artists to participate in your studio sale with you. Sharing the costs of promotion and advertising helps everyone find new customers.  One mailing list is good to have, but ten are great. Combine forces and help cross-promote each other for better results. Statistics show that for every 100 emails you are likely to get 1 to 3 actual attendees – a good mailed invitation can yield 3-5 attendees. 

6. Online Event and Neighborhood Sites

Check out 10Times, Zvents, MeetUp, EventBrite and Nextdoor, and Patch. These online platforms and calendars are used by television and radio stations, city halls, chambers of commerce, daily newspapers, institutions, schools and other organizations to stream events into their websites. Put your event here and watch it get shared to thousands of other calendars, all for free.

There are also local calendars which list what’s happening in your area. Find these online and submit your event.

7. Signage

Banners, posters and signs are a time-tested way to reach the public. Place posters in the “right” places, where your target customers shop. Many times local businesses will agree to help promote your art event by placing your poster in their window. There are creative ways to encourage them to help.

8. Alert the Media

Your Twitter profile page should be following local radio and tv media celebrities, newspaper and magazine editors, bloggers, culture vultures and other notables who might share your event news. Keep the messages flowing out and reach their networks too. Email your press release to as many media outlets as you can, and have it available on your website as well.  

9. Social Media

Invite your Facebook friends to your event. Write about it on your blog, send out a notice or SMS message to all of your subscribers as well. Ask them to share your event. Post your event as an update on your LinkedIn profile. Tweet about your open studio showing images of your work to your followers. Use hashtags to spread the word further, and mention “please retweet” in your message. 

10. Facebook

Both Facebook and Instagram provide you with many ways to promote your event. You can create a customer group, an event page, a marketplace page and more all through these platforms. They are the easiest way to grow followers and promote your event.

Don’t stop just because your event is underway –tweet during your Open Studio  or Arts Walk event, again using hashtags to bring in more attendees. Snap some photos during your event, and upload them afterward to Facebook, Instagram, and  Flickr, tagging those who attended. 

Need more help?

“The Successful Studio Event Guide” will help you keep organized, save time and money. We’ll provide a daily task list and planning calendar to create your art event marketing plan.  Our guide provides all the tasks related to pre-event planning and follow-up with text for thank-you notes and emails to customers and collectors.  It’s the best way to successfully launch and grow your studio art business!

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