The Art of Marketing Art

Museum Digital Insights is now INSIGHT: On Art & History Websites.

We’re changing our newsletter’s title to reflect a slightly new alignment of Cuberis’s service offerings for museum and history websites. We’ve been doing research into the similarities and differences between the non-profit world of museum websites and the for-profit world of art galleries. On the surface these websites and content strategies are quite similar. But taking a deeper look we’ve found some interesting patterns of difference. We think that these two art worlds can learn from each other, and their marketing, technology, and content approaches can provide a cross-pollination of effective ideas.

Out of our research we’ve written a new eBook: The Art of Marketing Art – Digital Strategies for Museums and Galleries. Below is the preface and introduction to the eBook, but we invite you to read the whole thing. You can download the free PDF here.

The Art of Marketing Art

Preface

Without question, digital platforms have revolutionized marketing as we know it. I’ve had a front-row seat in the advertising and digital space from the very beginning of the Internet age. In the early nineties advertising agencies were not concerned about shifts in ad spending from print to online. But now the entire industry has been turned on its head. Digital marketing has changed everything.

All forms of marketing have been affected, including how we “market art.” But when it comes to marketing art, typical digital strategies don’t apply themselves very well. There’s something unique about what we mean when we speak about “marketing art.” Much goes into this effort, and it is rarely purely transactional.

That’s why this ebook is titled “The Art of Marketing Art.” Despite their different marketing goal, when it comes to the essence of marketing art, gallerists and museum professionals know that the task is complex. It takes time, experience, knowledge, and conversation. It’s nothing like influencing consumers to add products to a shopping cart, or to signup for an online service.

Unlike the commercial world, where the results of a digital strategy can be viewed in real time with charts and stats, the results of digital strategy in marketing art can’t be easily displayed on a graph.

Additionally, unlike consumer markets, using digital platforms to market art isn’t just about online ad buys, targeted email blasts, or aggressive SEO campaigns—though each of these might have some use.

Rather, as we’ll see, art professionals can use their websites to expand their ability to nurture their constituents and clientele, to maximize their efforts to educate and inform their customers (whether a weekend exhibition goer, or an informed collector and potential patron/donor), to establish greater trust as an art advisor, and to draw them deeper into the appreciation of art and the artists that create it.

Art professionals know that the process of helping people understand and appreciate art does not involve pie charts, market trends, sales history, or any such metrics. Helping a visitor or collector come to an informed yet also subjective evaluation of what they see is truly an art—not a science.

Likewise, to help you appreciate the value of your digital platform, and better understand how it can help you, I can’t use charts or graphs in this ebook. Instead, just as you approach your constituents and clientele, we’ll need to have a conversation. We’ll need to look and think more deeply about what it means to market art. We’ll need to consider barriers that get in the way. And we’ll need to perhaps come to see things from a different perspective.

Just because the value of art can’t be plotted on a graph doesn’t make its value less real. And even though you may not be able to quantify exactly how a digital platform can help you on a given day, its impact is nevertheless, very real.

Introduction

The art market is extremely complex. In fact, even calling it “a market” is complicated. Traditionally a market is a place where money is exchanged for goods and services that we value more than the money we have, and in most markets this valuation is objective. But valuing art is trickier. Art is largely evaluated subjectively. When it comes to marketing art, we mix deeply personal and subjective responses with real-world transactions between artists and dealers, dealers and collectors, collectors and museums, and bidders and auction houses. The act of selling and buying art, oriented around deeply personal connections and elite buying dynamics, makes the task of marketing both technically and ethically encumbered. Therefore marketing art really becomes an art in itself.

While there is a wide divide between marketing the value of art to a collector in negotiating a sale, and the promotion of a new museum exhibition, marketing art involves promoting its value. Marketing art requires explaining, persuading, and justifying a six-figure price tag or the price of a ticket—and that it’s worth our time and attention to attend an exhibition.

And so the essence of marketing art requires that museum professionals and gallery directors function as trusted art professionals who provide sage advice and necessary information that informs the monetary and cultural value of art to their constituents and clientele.

This book is about how galleries and museums can leverage digital platforms and strategies to aid in their efforts to market art. In my experience as a digital strategist working in the art market, I’ve observed that my clients—museum professionals and gallery directors—not only face the inherent complications of marketing art but, when it comes to using a digital platform, they face other barriers as well. We’ll discuss these barriers and ways to overcome them.

But first, before we can consider specific goals and strategies, we need to dive deeper into what we’re even talking about when we discuss “marketing art.”

Finish reading the eBook. Download it here

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