The summer can be slow for business. Many art galleries reduce their hours and have fewer events because they know prospective art buyers are more focused on vacation and spending time with family than buying art. It is essential to continue to attract attention for your artists during the summer months.
To make the most of the slow season, you should plan early. Here I want to explore ways you can keep prospective buyers engaged with your gallery. I also want to review some projects you might consider taking on during the slow season that could make a positive impact on the gallery for the remainder of the year and beyond.
Keeping Art Collectors Engaged in the Slow Season
Creative events: Summer is an excellent time to step outside the box with the events you host in the gallery. Art buyers tend to be in a different mindset in the summer because their discretionary spending is going towards vacation. Activities should focus on fun rather than sales with the goal of attracting new prospects and building relationships.
Experiment with new event formats that may be appealing to a new type of art enthusiast. Ideas might include a different way of curating a show, planning family-friendly events that will appeal to both kids and adults alike, offering a new educational event, such as a lunch and learn or class or hitting the road for artist studio tours. Planning summer gallery events that are outside of your standard programming takes time, so start early. Keep these new events very budget friendly as sales may not be the primary goal.
Forge collaboration: Work with other businesses or organizations in your area to cross-promote. Research event calendars in your area to see what other events are being planning that provides mutual benefits to collaborate. These may be within your community or on the outskirts that would expand your gallery’s brand awareness. You may also seek out pop-up gallery collaborations in favorite vacation hotspots. Businesses in beach communities, for example, could be open to a collaborations to offer something new in their high season and may welcome the opportunity to promote their business in your market when the weather turns cold again. When thinking about collaborating with another business, you need to start the conversation early as they will be filling their calendar for summer as well. Wait too long and you may miss out.
Re-engage inactive subscribers: Use the summer to review your mailing list and develop a strategy to re-engage subscribers who have been inactive for the last year. Identify these subscribers and give them some extra love to try to renew their interest in your gallery’s artists. Staying on top of a mailing list takes time and focus. The slow season is the perfect time for this important task and a great way to boost leads and drive sales. Check out this previous article for more re-engagement ideas – Finding New Art Collectors Hiding In Plain Sight
Limited time only: Add something new to your inventory exclusively for summer. Consider offering unique outdoor pieces that can add art to your collector’s landscape. Summer is when people spend more time outside, and their focus is often on adding beauty to their outdoor spaces. As you will only have these items during the summer, the exclusivity factor is a way to generate some excitement and urgency. Be sure to maintain the level of quality your gallery is known for with your regular artists.
Gallery rentals: Create a campaign to promote your gallery as an event rental space. Many galleries have information and a rental contract on their website if they provide space for group events, but they don’t actively promote it to their clients and community. The summer is a great time to do this. Large businesses will likely begin planning holiday parties towards the end of summer.
Summer Gallery Projects for Fall and Holiday Success
Get a fresh look: Update your gallery window display to be light and summery. Change the art frequently and use props and signs to make your gallery friendly and inviting. But don’t stop there. Try refreshing your email templates and website homepage too. Use bright summer colors and give your messaging a relaxed and fun tone. Always stay true to your branding. Small changes in the appearances of both your gallery front and communications can make potential collectors take notice.
Put your marketing in overdrive: When business slows down, increase your marketing. Plan your marketing activities for the slow summer season early. Once summer begins, it may be too late to plan. The happenings in the gallery over the summer should be promoted early and often to stay top of mind with art collectors.
The summer season offers so many opportunities for people to get out and have fun, leaving your gallery with more competition for people’s attention. Marketing activities need to increase with additional emails, social media engagement and informal event inside and/or outside of the gallery.
Refresh internally: The slow season is the perfect time to refresh your website, marketing materials, internal organizational processes and business plan. These are all time-consuming tasks that can too easily be put on the back-burner until things slow down. Seize the moment.
Summer is also an excellent time to refresh staff training and rejuvenate their excitement and motivation for doing the best job possible. Take time to show your appreciation for staff contributions to the gallery and learn what future projects they would like to be involved. Get feedback from them on their roles in the gallery, past and future initiatives and hear their ideas for business development. Staff that feels appreciated works harder, and you may benefit from their fresh ideas for the business.
Don’t forget to nurture your artist relationships. Reach out to all your artists for their feedback and ideas. Learn how they will be spending their summers and what projects they are working on. This information would be wonderful to share with your social media followers. Communicate with your artists what your plans are for the rest of the year to promote their work and place pieces in collections.
Jump start on high season: For many galleries, the fall season is extremely busy and fast paced. People return to a normal schedule, the exhibition calendar is full and before you know it, the holiday season is coming up fast. Use the summer to get ahead. Finalize any exhibit plans and outline your sales and marketing plans for each show. Start pulling together email campaigns and designing exhibition materials, such as webpages, press releases and catalogues.
If your gallery publishes a blog, use the downtime to write blog posts that you can publish throughout the remainder of the year. When business picks back up in the fall, you will be glad to have content written and ready to go. You can also create social media posts that can be scheduled to post automatically.
If your art gallery business experiences a slow-down in the summer months, make a plan to make the most of this valuable quite time. What you choose to work on when collectors are headed for the beach could have a significant impact on the rest of your year. I hope some of the ideas above have inspired your summer to-do list.