Targeting New Customers

A Continuing-Education Series from Chalk & Vemilion Fine Arts, Inc.


Attracting new customers is an important part of any business owner’s plan for success. One particular tactic that has worked well for the art gallery business is direct mail programs targeting new homeowners. Aren’t sure how to put together a mailing and make it stand out? Let’s break down the process.

1. Find out who these people are – You can get lists of new home buyers from the paper and City Hall, but that is very time consuming. Your best bet may be to buy a list from a mailing list or direct mail company, which you can find through the local yellow pages or an online directory. Any decent company should be able to provide you with a list of customers to match your specifications. For example, you may want a list of everyone who bought a house over $300,000 in the past year, in a 20 mile radius. You can usually get these names and addresses on peel-and-stick labels for under $.20 each, and it’s well worth the expense.

2. Design your mailing piece – Your mailing should include a letter which welcomes and congratulates them on their new home and briefly describes your gallery. Print each letter on nice paper; don’t make photocopies. Don’t make them search for the important information – make sure your gallery name, address, phone number and website address are clearly visible in the of the letter (it’s a good idea to enclose your business card as well). Include a visual with a great image – maybe a postcard from your last show or a specially designed “coupon”. Make the image large and colorful enough to be eye-catching, and don’t crowd it with too much copy.

3. Give them a reason to call/come to your gallery – Most direct mail programs offer an incentive of some kind. If they bring the postcard in, they can receive a framing discount or a free poster. Alternatively, you can send an invitation to a wine-and-cheese reception/lecture or a complimentary in-home art consultation.

Some Do’s and Don’t’s:

Do use natural language, as if you were talking in person, and go for a personal and genuine tone

Do keep the message simple (one rule of thumb: describe your business in 17 words or less), with short sentences and short paragraphs

Do write in specifics, not generalities

Don’t bury your important information, including who and where you are, and what you have to offer

Don’t write with a lot of hype – people skim over tired phrases like “This offer won’t last!”

Don’t use asterisks, as in “All Framing 50% Off!”, where the asterisk denotes something you’re NOT going to give them. It’s a negative.

Don’t use unnecessary words; edit your letter and piece carefully to make sure it says just what you want it to say as succinctly as possible.

OK, now it’s time for us to put our money where our mouths are and write a letter following all this advice! Open the attached letter and feel free to use any or all of it if you like.

Attracting new customers is a universal goal for all kind of businesses. Another issue, however, is what about the old customers? What have you done lately to reach out to them? Creating customers is one thing; keeping them is another, and it’s a part of doing business that is often taken for granted. But that is a story for another day…

55 Old Post road #2, Greenweich, CT 06830 (800) 877-2255

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