Lay the foundations for a continuing relationship with your visitors.
Try and get everybody to fill in a visitors' book/list so that you can send them invitations to future events. You do not need a computer to build a mailing list. A card index system can work just as well. Keep a record of who did and did not buy, invited people who did and did not attend, galleries you would like to approach, press contacts etc. Building a mailing list from a visitors' book can be a fascinating process. It allows you to see how many of your visitors are first timers and who is a regular. If you ask people to include details of how they found out about you through the guide, an invitation, your flag etc. - it can help you to target next year's promotion.
The only problem with asking people to fill out their own details is the illegibility of a lot of handwriting! Even if the address is filled out in block capitals, the name may be a scrawled squiggle. One way round this might be to ask people to fill out an address label, if they want to learn about future events. You will need to photocopy the labels or enter the details into a list before you use them! The disadvantage of labels is that there is nowhere for people to include their comments. Comments in a visitors book can be very informative and, often, give the artist much pleasure.
The best compromise is probably to put up a prominent notice asking people to take care filling out their details if they want you to contact them but making clear that you welcome comments from everybody. This may save you hours trying to decipher the signatures of people who want to be contacted while allowing visitors who like your work, but loathe unsolicited mail, to feel they can scrawl away with impunity.
If several artists are sharing a studio they can provide tick columns so that visitors can indicate whose work they would be interested in seeing again. This saves the others from sending out invitations to people who don't want them.
You can also use tick columns to get people to indicate what sort of information they would welcome from you. For example if you give lessons or workshops prospective students can indicate their interest.
Make sure that visitors do not forget you. Give out business cards. Unless you are selling them, consider giving away relatively low-value items such as postcards of your work (with your name and contact details on them). There is a good chance they will be kept for future reference.
Give out flyers or invitations for other events that you are involved with.
- The benefits
- Open alone or with others?
- Suitable premises
- Your entry in the Directory
- When to open
- Advanced planning
- Opening day
- The future
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