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. 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. Cull your list on a regular basis and don’t mail to addresses that are 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 all!

2. Print Advertising

Print ads 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 demographics of the publications you are vetting to make sure you reach households that fall into your target audience.

3. Facebook Ads

This is one of the best promotional tools available. For 20 cents or less, you can target customers or prospects by occupation, zip code, interests, friends or education.  While you’re spending almost 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?)

4. Email

Email newsletters and announcements keep you in touch with your list all year long, as a 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. Use images and links in your newsletter to drive readers to your website or Facebook page.

5. Partner Up

Invite one or more other artists to participate in your studio sale with you, or do co-op advertising with others on the Art Walk. 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 – the same is true for mailed invitations.

6. Online Event Sites

Check out Zvents, Event Brite and Eventful. These online 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!

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 retailers will agree to help promote your art event by placing your poster in their window.

8. Alert the Media

Your twitter account should be following local broadcast media celebrities, newspaper and magazine editors, blogging culture vultures and other notables who will 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.  Use Twellow to find local celebs and important connections.

9. Social Media

Invite your Facebook friends to your event. Write about it on your blog, sending out notice to all of your subscribers as well. Post your event as an update on your LinkedIn profile. Tweet about your open studio, using Twitpic to show images of your work to your followers. Use hashtags to spread the word further, and mention “please retweet” in your message.

Don’t stop just because your event is underway –tweet during your sale or Art Walk, again using hashtags to bring in more attendees. Snap some photos during your event, and upload afterwards to Flickr, tagging those who attended. You can also use these next time you are promoting your work and your studio.

Use a calendar to create your art marketing plan.  Detail all tasks related to pre-show planning, collecting information about your guests during your sale, and following up with thank-you notes and emails to customers and collectors are all important.  Make this your best art event ever!

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