Art Fairs now
From the 1960's when Art Cologne was born, the number of biennials and fairs escalated globally. Such events have become almost mandatory and hence they now hold the key to most galleries' survival. Achieving a place in Art Basel, Frieze or Arco is a dream come true for many art businesses today. The truth, however, is that although fairs pose exciting business opportunities, the huge financial investment involved in attending an art fair has closed many gallery's doors forever.
Such a situation was completely different not so long ago. The art arena has always been viewed as a highly exclusive club where only the elite was welcome: a luxury. This attribute kept many galleries afloat for years, while others survived on local collectors with whom gallerists kept close contact. Art sales were often closed face to face, usually during an exhibition opening. Marketing strategies merely consisted of a concoction of local media and word of mouth.
Traditional vs digital marketing
Such a business model has shifted massively over the last ten years and some galleries have been unable to cope with all these contemporary challenges. Many highly successful art galleries are now struggling to keep up with a digitalized world, where traditional marketing alone is no longer enough to fulfil the expectations of an ever-changing audience.
As mentioned above, advertising exhibitions in local printed newspapers or the odd pricey advert on an exclusive art magazine did the job perfectly until recent times. Thence galleries survived comfortably on local collectors. But then, art fairs and digital marketing came crashing their comfort zone by yielding new markets, measurable campaign results, and custom audiences worldwide. But how to take full advantage of them both together?
Nowadays our world moves fast, buyers want to find products quickly and easily. Hence why digital marketing can be the answer to advertise your booth at a particular art fair. Hereby some examples of how you could use it:
Social Media Marketing: This is by far the cheapest choice. Most of us are on social media, therefore are susceptible to become potential clients. Paid Ads in social media work both, for local exhibitions and art fairs. They can be programmed to appear on a determined place, at a determined time, for a determined audience selected by you. So, say you have a booth in an art fair in Madrid, you can advertise yourself there for a month before your arrival, with only a small budget.
Search Engine Marketing: search engine marketing. Right so, you are an art gallery in Asturias attending an art fair abroad. You can custom your audience, the exact city where the Ad will be displayed when collectors search the right keywords on several search engines. But also, there's Google Display Network available, check it out!
Digital Research: Can be the most expensive strategy. But why not research digital publications where you can advertise your booth leading back to your own website. Art magazines and platforms, local newspapers, to the art fair, etc. International platforms such as Artsy are also a strategy, but also a costly one.
Email marketing: compile and use your database ensuring you keep it always updated, monitor your email strategy reach and success. Segment your list and create strategic emails for specific goals. Keep audiences segmented so you can separate them.
Mobile Marketing: SMS campaigns leading to a landing page, WhatsApp marketing or the likes. Again: use your very own database. Don't be tempted to hire or purchase one.
Designing your digital strategy for art fairs
If you have been lucky enough to get accepted in that art fair you wanted, you will obtain a confirmation a few months in advance. This will allow enough time for you to plan a consistent digital campaign strategy, making yourself known to the right people before the art fair starts. A fair booth is a huge investment, why not differentiating yourself from your competitors prior to the opening day?
Designing a winning strategy might take time, but you could land up with a good database of art fair locals. You could use this database for email or even mobile marketing, show the artworks displaying and maybe even secure some sales.
These are only some ideas, but really, you need to find what works for you!