Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Art of the Give Away - by Kate Dardine

Reciprocity. Webster’s Dictionary defines the word as “a mutual exchange of privileges.” In this article, it refers to the act of giving something in order to get something in return – specifically, to give away something in your art show booth, at your gallery show, or from your website – in order to receive something – a sale!

Glenn and Cherie McBride, of
Yellowbird Studio in Texas, report on some findings from their own five year “survey” of marketing techniques:
No sales could be traced to business card handouts!

Few sales were generated directly by brochures.
Few sales were generated directly by magazine advertising
Few (almost no) sales were generated by newspaper advertising.
But ...
They have received an incredible rate-of-return from give-a-ways - direct and from other customers. (We picked up this technique from the publisher of our book, Mark Victor Hansen in LA.)

They have high sales during face-to-face interactions (such as at Outdoor Art Festivals and Art Expo).

There is a psychology to the free giveaway: when someone has gotten a “gift” from you, they feel, perhaps subconsciously, that they need to give something back, and that is most likely to be in the form of a purchase.

There are a few ways to handle the free giveaway. One is to give something free with a purchase. It is the “Buy Two Get One Free” approach. You can try it with small matted prints such as 4x6 prints matted to 8x10.

Another way is to have a candy jar out in your booth, and bottles of cold water (especially on a hot day!) If you have a customer in your booth, offer the water. Two things will likely happen: The customer will linger longer and…find something to purchase!

A third way is to have them DO something to get something for free. Like sign up on your mailing list to receive your free e-letter. Or sign up on your mailing list to get into a drawing for a print or a small painting. (I have found that the latter is the most likely to get people to sign my mailing list.) This option works in your booth as well as on your website.

G. Brad Lewis, a photographer and long-time Fine Print customer from Hawaii has been practicing the art of reciprocity for many years. His habit is to slip in a free matted 5x7 when a customer purchases a large print from him.

Whether you choose one of the techniques I’ve listed or have a trick or two of your own, “give something and get something in return” works. Not with every customer, every time, but enough that it will make a difference in your sales.