These days having a good website is more important than ever before. The key word is good! Without a website your customers and prospects may not take you seriously and you may not appear professional. From a marketing perspective an online presence is imperative as media moves from away from traditional forms such as newspaper, magazine, television, radio and some forms of direct marketing. Even your local hot dog stand probably has a website!
There is a lot of competition for your customer’s attention
There are millions of web sites with billions of pages on the internet. Thousands more websites are being added every day. If you don’t implement an effective web strategy you may find yourself at the bottom of a huge search list never to be found.
It is important to remember that you are competing for your customers’ and prospects’ attention; it’s that simple. As consumers have become more plugged in than ever before, their attention span has become shorter. People are increasingly becoming “multitaskers” and it is not uncommon for people to be writing an email while checking their Facebook page, texting on their mobile device with a television set on in the background. In short if you cannot provide an engaging online experience then your customers and prospects will be off to the next thing – guaranteed!
If you would like to learn more about how the virtual world is changing our lives and attention spans I invite you to check out the following PBS video “Digital Nation”.
Your customers expect more from a website
As websites proliferate, the bar is being raised as to what people expect. Websites are evolving and getting better with regard to:
- Improved viewer experiences
- More professional graphics, photos and text content that are relevant
- Improved and more standardized navigation
- Addition of video, audio and interactive capabilities
- Mobile device capability as more people view content on a small screen
- Easy product ordering and customer service
- Integrating social media activities and the ability to share your content
The cost of developing a website has been dropping as new technologies and more competitors enter the web development market. That is not to say that the cost of developing and maintaining a good website is next to nothing. Make sure that you provide for web development and enhancements in your marketing budget. Perhaps more costly than money in website development is your time; don’t overlook your time required and budget it as well.
Uses for an artist’s website
Websites can serve a lot of different purposes and you will need to decide which ones are right for you. As you add more functionality to your website the amount of maintenance and expense increases. Keep your website as simple as you can without sacrificing features that will help grow your business and brand. Some common uses for a website include:
- A basic business presence or way for your customers and prospects to find you. As other forms of finding a business are going away such as the yellow pages this is a basic function that you need to be concerned about. Make it easy for your customers to find you, contact you and interact with you.
- Showcasing your product or service offerings. This may be a simple product listing or elaborate galleries showing your work. Make sure you present your products in the best light for your intended audience and make it easy for them to view your selection.
- Announcing upcoming shows or exhibits, securing reservations for an event.
- Sales and product fulfillment more commonly known as ecommerce may be an important feature in your website. Make it easy for your customers to do business with you and give them a sense of trust when they order from you online. Your online sales efforts can open the whole world to your business and greatly expand your market reach.
- A great way to build a community of people who are interested in you, your company and your products. If you choose a blog format you are already set up to build your community. They key word behind building a community is interaction, between you and your community and interaction between community members.
- As a resource for ideas, news, entertainment, products and services which has now been dubbed “Content Management”.
- A platform to share information about yourself, your art, your ideas as well as things you find interesting in the form of a blog or journal.
Something to always keep in mind about your web presence – your customer!
As with any marketing activity you need to keep your customer or intended audience in mind. In the end it really doesn’t matter what you think or what you like, it is what your customer thinks and likes, hopefully both parties are on the same wavelength. Make sure you understand your customers and prospects with respect to:
- Who they are by knowing their demographics, lifestyles and income levels
- What they want and what benefits they are looking for
- Their interests, like and dislikes
- Where they can be found both physically and in the virtual world
- What their hot buttons are and what they respond to
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and ask yourself, “Is my website providing them with what they want?” If the answer is no then you have some work to do. If the answer is yes then continue what you are doing but be sure to ask this question often as you change your business and your customers change their habits. In short you need to get feedback from your website visitors and take action where needed.
The bottom line(s)…
Having a good website is important to the success of your art business and how your brand is portrayed to the world. If your web experience is lacking in the eyes of your customers and prospects then they will move on – count on it! Take a look at your web presence and identify the things that you need to change or improve on and take action. And don’t forget to check out the websites of other artists who you feel do a great job in presenting their work and engaging their website visitors for ideas on improving your web experience.
If you would like to learn more about preparing your own business and marketing plan, building your art business and selling more art I invite you to check out my book – The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox. Good Luck!
Neil McKenzie is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver where he teaches “Marketing the Arts”.
Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto