The success of an exhibition is partly due to the advertising and marketing. Naturally, the purpose is to get as many people to see the exhibition as possible. But in addition that, it’s also worth considering who you want to be in that group. Ideally, you want to be targeting people who are interested in original art, and likely to:
a) buy original art
b) spread the word about work they like (word of mouth can be the most powerful marketing of all)
c) provide you with valuable feedback on the work.
Here are a few ideas you may want to consider:
Develop a mailing list
These are people who know your work and would like to be invited to a preview event.
- When you mail them the news of your exhibition, ask them to forward the news to others they think will be interested, or bring friends along to the event. People sometimes need to be reminded that they are welcome to do that (and in fact that you actively encourage it – it’s a good way to build your mailing list).
- Keep track of who has accepted so that you can cater adequately at the preview event, and also so you can;
- Send a reminder email out 2 days before the event. Include map and parking information in this one, as well as any other last-minute information
- Expect at least 10% to drop out at the last minute. Stuff happens in people’s lives.
Put out a press release about the exhibition and send it to the local press (newspapers magazines and online)
- Include a photograph of a painting that has great impact. The more attention-grabbing, the better. We included Girls’ Best Friends on the event poster and that resulted in it being used by a number of publications to illustrate their piece about the event.
- Compile a spreadsheet to track the publication names, contact person and email addresses of all your local media. This will make it easier to get in touch with them for future events.
- Think about the demographic of the readership of the magazine, particularly in light of the audience you would like to attract. If a publication has a high proportion of readers who are interested in the arts, it is more likely to publish a piece about an art exhibition. Double bonus: better chance of publication, and the opportunity to reach a higher number of the people you want to attract.
- Be mindful of deadlines. In particular, printed publications often have quite long lead in times for publications. It’s worth finding out what they are. We left it a bit too late for some of ours and missed out completely on getting into a few key publications.
Look out for local ‘what’s on’ websites and e-bulletins
- Get in touch with them to get a listing in at the right time. For the weekly editions, a couple of weeks run up to the event should be sufficient.
Put up posters in the local vicinity if you are allowed to do so by councils
- If you can’t get them onto pavements or public spaces, ask a few people who live close to the venue if they would mind having a temporary sign on their gate or fence. This may only work in villages. It certainly worked in ours.
On the exhibition days, make sure the signage is good
- People will give up and go away if they can’t quickly and easily work out where you are.
- It is also a good way of attracting serendipitous visitors. People who have a bit of time to spare and see your signs may well want to pop in for a browse.
- Set up a Facebook Event and invite the Facebook friends who are based in the area where your exhibition will be held.
- Tweet your event when you announce it.
- Post news on Facebook and Twitter as your plans develop and things get done.
- Post news about event publicity. The publications get additional exposure so they love it too.
- Partner with local businesses where you can.
- Think about what public holidays are taking place during your exhibition time and see if you can take advantage of them some way.
What other ways have you advertised your event? Please share them in the comments.
The more people get into the habit of buying original art, the more they will buy original art in the future.