Marketing Mondays: It's All in the Timing

So there I was with just over 20 days to the deadline for the annual painting conference I run. I’m up to my eyeballs in chores and responsibility, working through the world’s largest to-do list. A proposal for next year arrives in my email queue.

It took everything I had not to delete it, so overworked was I at that point, but I emailed the sender to say, “Wait until the Call for Proposals comes out in the fall; I’ll then be able to give it my full attention.”

I’m guessing gallerists and curators deal with ill-timed material all the time. So today’s post is about coordinating your effort with their interest. Ask yourself: Is this the best time for the recipient? As artists, we typically have a to-do list, and getting a project finished and crossed off the list means there’s now one less thing for us to do. But since we want something from another person—attention, an exhibition opportunity—we would be smart to tailor our schedule to theirs.

Synchronize Your Information with a Dealer’s Interest
. The best time to send a business email is on Tuesday at 9:00 am. Why? The person you’re sending it to has gotten through last week’s pending chores, and she’s got four full work days in the week. On this day she’s likely to be more receptive to what comes in. (If Monday is a holiday, then Wednesday is the best day.)
. As artists, we might want to tweak that timing. Most galleries start their work week on Tuesday, so Wednesday may be the better day. But . . .
. Consider the dealer’s or curator’s schedule. Is there an opening that week? Thursday night? Friday night? Saturday afternoon? Is the dealer preparing for a pending art fair? Then that Wednesday may not be the best Wednesday in the month to send an email. (Postcards can sit in a stack until the person gets to them, so they’re perhaps not quite so time sensitive.)
. At the other end, is the dealer just returning from an art fair? If so, there will be a ton of paperwork and follow-up to do. That Wednesday may not be the best day either.
. How do you know a dealer’s schedule? Do your research. When does the gallery open a show? Are the upcoming openings posted? Is the dealer participating in an art fair? Websites usually post that information. If you visit the gallery regularly, you’ll be more familiar with both the dealer and her schedule. This familiarity also puts you at a distinct advantage, at least in terms of receiving an initial response to pursue a conversation.
. Is the gallery closed for August? Hard-copy packages will likely sit in a box over the summer, then. But it’s a rare dealer or curator who doesn’t check email. (And some dealers go into the gallery when it’s closed specifically to plow through the paperwork and electronic material.)
. By the way, sending a jpeg attachment with no text, no info, no nothing in the body of the email is not likely to entice anyone to take extra time to open an unknown item from a stranger. I know this because I get a lot of emails just like this. My response? Delete. I’ll bet you do the same thing. And we’re not dealers. Instead, insert a small-pixel jpeg into the body of the email, along with a live link to a blog or website—or even a blog specially set up for the dealer. Since you want something from them, make it easy for them.

Sensitivity to Timing is Required in Real Time, Too
When a dealer is on a ladder installing a show is not the time to introduce yourself. I mentioned this before, but I was in conversation with a dealer one time when an artist, carrying a portfolio, walked in, stood there for a few minutes, hovering thisfaraway from us, and finally blurted out, “Excuuuuse me!” Crazy, yes, but sometimes an irrational need takes over.

So if a dealer says to you, ‘This is not a good time. Get back in touch with me next week,” it’s not a good time and you should get back in touch with them next week. If it’s never going to be a good time, they’ll let you know that too.

Dealers and Curators Do Look
I don’t want to make is sound as if the time is never right. Dealers and curators are visual people. Their job is to be aware of what’s going on, to seek out what’s new and interesting, to look. But timing makes the different between, “Yes, let’s see what you have,” and “Uh, sorry, no.”


Juergen said...

thanks - fully correct.

cathsheard said...

I think this is a good reminder - thank you. And a reminder too, that 'not now' really might mean just that, and not "go away I hate your work'...

Anonymous said...

i personally advise not to bother with snail-mailing print material. most dealers/collectors/curators don't open their own mail. i only know this 'cause i work for dealers/collectors and open mail for them. usually i trash it unless it's visually appealing to ME, in which case i scotch tape it to the wall next to my desk. or google names/shows/curators/etc. even shit from gagosian, they don't bother with it.

Zosia Swidlicka said...

So true, you've hit the nail right on the head. If you want something, you've got to get the timing right. And I completely agree about Tuesdays at 9am; it's the busiest day for both my outbox and my inbox!