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Building Trust at Art Shows Requires New Skills and New Words
by Mckenna Hallett for MygoldenWords.com - Article source ArtsyShark.com

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In other words, you need your prospective buyer to know "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that you are interested in what they are interested in. To be crystal clear: they are, we ALL are, mostly interested in ourselves. If you appear to be more interested in YOURself, you lose THEIR interest.

"But wait!" you say. "How can I create interest if I don't talk about me and my process and me and my background and me and my thoughts about my art? They need to get to know me, don't they? How will they know I am valued, what my art represents, and that it is worth consideration?"

Well, sure…they need to understand your value as an artist, but they want to know about the things THEY care about. (Read that again and really drink it in!)



Today, the average attention span is about eight seconds. This is especially true during the early phase of first-time engagement. Those first eight seconds need nurturing to expand into ten, fifteen and more. The way to sustain interest in your art is to turn the conversation into whatever subjects interest them – the quicker, the better!

The Four Dirty Little Words

The easiest way (although it takes some practice!) to make sure you are keeping it more about them and less about you is to get rid of the Four Dirty Little Words: I, Me, My, Mine, as much as possible.

Find ways to convey your information by increasing the use of You and Yours and use third party references like owners, collectors, or patrons. For example:
  • Collectors of large work are thrilled to have so many choices for their big spaces. Do you have a space that can handle this size?
  • Have you collected______________? (Fill in the blank with your medium and/or genre.)
  • What most art patrons love about this collection/series/piece is _______________.
  • Did you notice ______________?
  • Is there a certain room you have in mind for your next piece of art?
  • While many serious collectors start with a small original, there are some wonderful limited-edition prints you might want to consider, also.
While many serious collectors start with a small original, there are some wonderful limited-edition prints you might want to consider, also.

You must find your own words and make sure you are creating statements and questions that are client focused icebreakers. For best results, I repeat: Remove I, Me, My, and Mine whenever possible and use You and Yours as much as possible.

Not all questions are valuable

Another key to keeping it real is to avoid small talk. Resist asking "Are you enjoying the art fair?" or "Where are you from?" or other such mundane questions.

Find questions that let them know you are truly (not routinely) interested in them and their interests. One of my favorites to ask within seconds of their viewing your work: "Have you seen my work before?"

Asking that question is a two-in-one winner! First, it suggests that your work is "seen". Second, it gives you a clear path forward depending on their answer. If they say "yes", you can ask if they have collected your work and, if they say "yes" again, then you are headed for a great engagement, right? Your collectors are always your best source for additional purchases!

If they say "no" you magically have "permission" to give them your quick elevator speech. (You do have a quick elevator speech, right?) A quick intro that entices and amazes and generates interest is your number one tool of engagement.

And always try to end on a question. After a few quick sentences that sum up what you and your art represent, asking them something relevant will keep the ball rolling. Then keep asking questions. The more they talk, especially about themselves, the more comfortable and relaxed they will become.

Be Curious!

By showing interest in them and what matters to them, you gain their trust and show that you truly want to help them find art that is a perfect match for their homes and lives. You must be selfless. Be encouraging. Be curious about them and show them you are curious.

In a perfect world, they will lose track of time and ignore their phone. That's a big part of your ultimate goal. Even if they don't buy today, you broke the spell of distraction and were able to have an engaging exchange. They have gained an interest and you have inspired trust. This leads to being able to get their contact information with very little resistance. Now you can stay in touch.

Step one is often the hardest part: Minimize talking about yourself, your art, and your process. It's all about them. Even when they ask you about you, they are still asking about something THEY are interested in knowing more about. It's never really about you!

Mckenna Hallett is the author of The E's of Selling Art System and has been teaching artists how to sell, market, and grow their art sales for nearly 30 years. Learn more on her website.

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