2.14 Susan Smith former Marketing Director of Scuba Diving Magazine
This is an interview with my former boss, Susan Smith. She was so kind enough to answer my questions about marketing for artists. Marketing and Sales seem like such a foreign concept for artists. Susan was kind enough to answer my questions on the topic. She has years of experience in marketing.
Nancy Miller: Can you tell us about yourself?
Susan Smith: I am the former Director of Marketing for Scuba Diving magazine and was also the Marketing Director at WCIV-TV in Charleston, South Carolina.
NM: Are there any essential things an illustrator might need in order to market themselves? Nowadays, it seems like you have social media accounts even more than a web site.
Susan: I would say that today everything you mention here is important. A web site these days for an artist might be like a business card for a product sales rep. It is just a small piece of the marketing puzzle but a necessary one even if only serving as an introduction for you and your work.
Social media is the most popular and often the most effective marketing vehicle today, in terms of reaching the general public. (If you are talking about trying to reach retailers who might carry your licensed products, that is a different question.)
I’m going to assume for now that you are not talking about running paid-for ads on these social networks, but instead setting up accounts for your business and posting to the public.
I would select one or two to focus on, because if you are inactive on one of your social media sites, then it serves no purpose. You need to post often, I’d say at least 2 times a week, and continually invite people to Like or Follow your page because otherwise, no one is seeing your posts.
NM: Are there any good resources online for understanding marketing online or sales?
Susan: The link below will give you some great info on Social Media Marketing. Remember, you are talking about marketing or posting right now, not actually running paid ads on the social media channels. While the link is from a company that can help you with your social media marketing, have no fear, there is also a ton of useful information in here and there are no strings attached.
NM: What types of social media would you consider the best platforms for artists? Most people say Instagram but are there any others that you recommend?
Susan: It all comes down to your audience and your product. Since art is a visual product, right away Instagram and Facebook make sense. There is a chart in the link above that shows you who the audience is on each of the social media channels. So you should know or decide who your target audience is and then look at that chart to see which social media that audience is using the most.
Also, here is a link to a good article about how artists can benefit from LinkedIn. It’s a good way to get your name out there in the “art world” plus it gives you access to industry-related groups. This could end up being the most important step you take.
NM: Are there any sites one can use to measure how well one’s marketing efforts are working?
Susan: This is a bit more complicated. In the first article link I gave you, it talks about different ways to measure the effectiveness of your social media marketing. But let’s start out with some very basic information. You can sign up for Google Analytics which is simple to do—just click on the link below. You provide some basic information about you and your web site and they’ll provide you with a tracking code to paste (or have someone paste) onto the pages of your web site. Then Google will know who is visiting your web site and where they are coming from, i.e., if they clicked on your web site from a Facebook post or from an Instagram post. (So don’t forget to include your web site link at the bottom of all your posts!)
NM: I still hear that sending printed samples are a good idea. Especially in licensing. They love seeing mockups. Is there anything I could do to get my mockups to stand out?
Susan: I’m not sure I can answer this other than to say you need to pick products that best show off your artwork and the product at the same time. You need to think like the retailer---and they are just thinking, what’s going to sell? While your artwork is personal to you, it isn’t to them. So pick a product that is modern and sellable and also one on which your artwork will show up well.