If you don’t have a target market, this is what you’re doing
No matter how appealing your meat is, no matter how beautifully presented and how amazing it smells, if you try to feed meat to vegans they will not bite.
You could have the perfect sales funnel in place.
You could have such incredible offers that even Ebenezer Scrooge would whip out his wallet to buy.
But none of that matters because, if you’re trying to sell meat to vegans, you will fail.
Now let’s translate that to art sales and target market. Every genre of art has a target market, demographic or ideal collector. I refer to this ideal collector as an ICA — Ideal Collector Avatar.
This is the person who you most want to work with AND who resonates with your work.
They are the meat eaters, in my current metaphor. The people who DO want your amazing meat and love everything about your presentation. When you show up with pork laden platter in hand, they are pushing each other out of the way in order to get to the front of the line.
You need to define them, in detail, in order to find them. So how do you define your ICA?
Start with yourself if you’re stuck. Who you are. We know ourselves best. Describe yourself but add the stuff you’ve always wanted.
My ICA is a 47 year old woman who is well educated and is discovering what it means to live her own truth. She maybe put everyone else first for a very long time but now, fuck it, it’s her time.
She’s very aware that there are more days behind her than in front, and she’s determined to knock a few things off her bucket list. She’s fun and funny. Loves to laugh. Connects deeply with her friends. Can be impulsive.
But wait, there’s more!
She has spawned a few kids who are in their teens. Accidentally collects animals, has a mix of cats and dogs, but not enough to be called a hoarder. She’s creating a life that she’s proud of, a day at a time and isn’t worried about following the crowd or acting her age.
She loves art that is colourful and connects her with her deepest emotions. She loves stories and being able to experience those stories when looking at the art in her home. She’s not afraid to put a giant painting on a small wall and a small painting on a giant wall. Breaking the rules, even in her home decor, is now her thing.
She buys art she loves without worrying about whether it’s saying something deep or what other people will think. She trusts her emotions and her gut.
She’s also messy, chaotic and has some figurative warts. It’s so important to make sure you define your ICA as a full person and everyone has negatives about them.
I could go on, and have in my personal notes, but already I love her. She’s a mix of me and some of the people around me that I want to be more like.
Notice how she has an actual age? Not an age range.
While your art will sell to a range of ages, you’re going to find that the average tends to be on the nose with your ICA. AND if I were to do an age range, how do I market effectively? A 25 year old, with their YEETs and FLEXes and other linguistic terms, won’t relate to being a parent of teens or facing midlife.
As artists, we don’t sell to a crowd, we sell to individuals. It just so happens that we humans are a lot more alike than different (trust me, I have now seen thousands and thousands of artist profiles, and talked to thousands of art buyers. We are incredibly more alike than different). People will resonate with your message when they feel like you’re talking to them and only them.
When you go deep with your ICA’s description, you can figure out where to find her online and then get your work in front of her.
Join forums that she would be in. Mine might be in pet owners groups or mothers of teenagers groups. Or moms who swear groups.
If she’s a professional, she’d probably hanging out on LinkedIn. If I decide to aim my art for business spaces, I definitely want to be selling my art on LinkedIn and connecting with the owners of businesses like the one my ICA would own. And I’d manage my use of colourful language differently.
Since my ICA is 47, I can skip all the spaces that she wouldn’t be. Like TikTok or SnapChat or whatever. Maybe she’s on Pinterest. Wherever you decide your ICA is going to be, make sure you’re there too with your content, posts and sales posts. And make sure it’s a platform you resonate with.
My previous art ICA was on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. I grew pretty huge followings there, simply by posting content they liked (my art and behind the scenes stuff, and yes terrible puns), following and interacting with her posts as well. I barely sold a thing on Facebook. Didn’t try on LinkedIn. For you, the mix might be different.
The point is, define your target market (ICA), figure out where they’re going to be and put your art in front of them.
Make sure you connect/friend/follow them to get their attention. Make sure you interact with their posts, and their responses to your posts. And very quickly your art sales will go from flat or ok, with every sale a struggle, to chugging along and pieces selling so much faster.
When you put what people want, in front of the people who want it, selling becomes so much easier. Instead of a chorus of indifference, or worse, you create raving fans who love you and your art.
And suddenly, marketing and selling become joyful parts of your day rather than things to dread and loathe.
Now pass the bacon! For some reason I’m hungry.