By: Behdad Najafi Asadollahi
Behdad Najafi Asadollahi Artist, curator, and director of Ragadid Complex
Art is an interwoven part of the human existence, which results in artists being held in high esteem in society. There is, therefore, controversy among artists and intellectuals in human sciences surrounding the application of business and commerce approaches to the study of art and artistic activities in purely economic and administrative terms. Yet, art, much like all for-profit and non-profit operations, needs to make use of marketing and communication sciences to thrive. Needless to say, while the same communication and marketing principles apply to all commodities and services, the strategies and plans developed based on these principles are tailored to their specific needs of each domain.
Art marketing focuses on profitable practices that ensure building customer satisfaction and value and connecting to the target market and audience is a key component of the process. Simply put, art marketing is the systematized process of creating awareness, interest, and ultimately demand from customers and audiences for an artist and their artworks. The generated demand is meant to create the will to acquire and purchase the pieces. The practical side of the process entails all activities performed by art creators and suppliers including artists, collectors, and galleries to boost trades.
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The two main goals pursued by art marketing are new customer attraction and customer retention. The field borrows marketing practices from other goods and services, such as market research, consumer behavior research and marketing communications including advertising and public relations, sales, distribution and after sales services. The following section covers the main terms in the domain.
Marketing strategies, policies, and tactics
An art marketing strategy is the roadmap that outlines how art works and products are presented to create connections with the target audience and turn them into buyers. This strategy dictates the course of action and plans to achieve marketing goals and the target market position. Informing approaches and the overall marketing plan, marketing strategies are created for extended periods. A long-term art marketing strategy might be developed for a 5-year period and determine the annual and quarterly marketing plan frameworks during the forthcoming period. Strategies are modified in response to feedback from the implementation of plans, and constant and inevitable market variations.
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Art marketing tactics are the specific activities performed consistently and regularly to achieve goals set by the marketing strategy. Examples include organizing art exhibitions, social media promotions and systematic and media news coverage.
A significant distinction between strategies and tactics is that strategies are not as sensitive to time and technology. To illustrate, many of the strategies adopted by businesses to increase sales have remained unchanged through time, while the tactics adopted in keeping with them have evolved with time and technological advances. Tactics in direct marketing channels for example, have undergone a major evolution formal campaigns to fax, to promotional emails in the digital age.
Art marketing policies are the set of guidelines developed in line with the leading strategies to manage day to-day operations and determine frameworks, limitations, and priorities in the decision-making process. Reflecting the artists and suppliers’ values and culture, these policies also regulate their professional attitudes.
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Art marketing plan
Part of the overall art business plan, the art marketing plan outlines the activities, budgets and timelines required to achieve predetermined objectives. It is based on the art marketing strategy and comprises relevant tactics and policies. Currently, most professional artists and suppliers of art pieces such as galleries,
exhibitions and auctions divide marketing plans into an overarching annual outline categorized into four quarterly plans to be developed and implemented.
Beyond the short-term sales of artworks, art marketing involves planning to raise brand awareness in the market and the art community as well as brand positioning for artists and art suppliers in the long run.