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Pre qualify Buyers for Your Art - Don't Wait to be Discovered

This article focuses on pre qualifying prospective clients for your art and creating photographs that have greater potential for sale - without giving up your creativity.

As fine art photographers we frequently photograph a variety of subjects which tickle our creative interests. Very often it is without consideration for their marketability. Consequently, we have thousands of images on disc or in slide containers that have long since been forgotten or are seldom viewed after they are created. Why? Because there was no specific purpose for creating them, except for their artistic significance.

I’d like to present a method for channeling some of your photography in a manner that will offer more opportunities for selling your work.

The method is based on two elements: first, focusing a portion of your photography on subjects that are in demand. This requires you identify where work within your area of interest is currently displayed. The second is pre qualifying prospects – the owners of the images.

A Little Research
Begin by actively seeking out businesses that use art to enhance their work environments. Check out bank buildings. Walk inside; see what they have on their walls. Law offices and other office buildings have a plethora of walls. Many times you can casually walk down hallways, peering into offices to get a sense for the business’s art preferences. Go to hospitals. They are literally cities within concrete and brick. The larger the hospital, the more departments and patient care areas: nurseries, patient rooms, hallways, administrative offices, clinic rooms, board rooms, even the cafeteria. Each area offers several opportunities for a variety of genres. With a little thinking and by being aware of opportunity-workspaces you soon will have a long list to explore.

Why survey these and similar business? Because they have the need and budget for art. Many of them are receptive to acquiring from local artists. The trick is to match your work with clients that have similar, or relatively similar, artistic interests.

Having done the research, you have begun to eliminate one of the greatest challenges to artists - resistance to marketing and selling their work. You’ve taken the first step to pre qualifying your prospects. The next step is to get an appointment with the buyer.

Getting to the Buyer
How do you find out who is responsible for purchasing art? Usually a phone call to the marketing or public relations department will produce a name, phone number and email address.

Introduce yourself to the buyer by sending an email with your best and most appropriate image. The image should be inline, not an attachment. All you have to say is that you have visited their hospital, bank, or office and have artwork you feel will enhance their work, patient, or customer environment. Then state you will call the prospect on a given day - within two days after you send the email. Your email will be best received if it pops into their inbox between 10am and 2pm on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Ideally, you will follow up the next day with a phone call.

On the appropriate day, call for the appointment. Generally, if you send out your email introduction early the preceding day and call for the appointment in late afternoon the following day, the prospect will have had time to read your email. Do not email for the appointment. And don’t feel put off if an assistant handles the appointment. You’ve got the appointment, that’s what counts.

Prior to introducing yourself via the email, you will have prepared a set of portfolios. (You can read about presenting portfolios on this website) The set can consist of a primary portfolio most aligned with the client’s existing work and two portfolios of alternative art that would logically fit in their establishment.

The first portfolio establishes your talent credentials by showing a genre of work with which the client is familiar. You use the two alternative portfolios to introduce the buyer to some other genres that may be suitable for their business.

During your meeting, you are looking for two things: You want to determine if there is an immediate need for which your existing art is appropriate. Second, you are looking for the prospect’s future needs.

Creating a Client
It is with the future needs that you have the opportunity to acquire a commission or commitment to purchase your work based on specific image requirements. You can begin to collaborate with buyers by having them show you where they want to display new art and by offering your artistic suggestions. Many buyers will appreciate having an “artist’s” help in the decision process.

The commitment may be tentative: “If I like it, I’ll buy it”. Or, it may be formal with a written agreement. Either way, the next time you photograph you are going to be a photographer with clearer focus, knowing there is significantly greater potential for your creative work to be purchased by a pre-qualified buyer.