Art Marketing – The Push and the Pull


Forget everything about your art marketing for a few minutes, and just think of two concepts. Push and Pull. Push and Pull Marketing is not new, but let’s talk about it and the marketing of your art.


"Kota Kinabalu Flower Shop" Craig Shillam, colored pencil, 15 1/2" x 19 3/4"

Your Art and Push Pull Marketing

You will find these two basic marketing styles are around us everywhere, and it’s a good idea to be more aware of the push and the pull in your art marketing. First, let’s think about two companies: Wal-Mart and Apple. Both are hugely successful, and very different in their marketing approaches.

  • Wal-Mart is all about the low prices. These guys don’t want anybody beating them on price. That’s their game, they are great at it, and millions of people love that.
  • Apple is not about low prices at all. They are about style, innovation, function, uniqueness, cool. That’s their game, they are also great at what they do, and they have their millions of fans as well.   

Two great American Companies, with two totally different philosophies. One uses push marketing strategies for the most part, and on uses pull marketing strategies for the most part.

 Art Marketing – The Push

 In Push Marketing, a company, or you as an artist, use various activities to get your art and your message in front of your potential buyers. These activities, which you could say are fairly traditional, could include art shows, approaching galleries and other retail outlets to stock your work, and selling your work directly to a collector. The Pull strategy is what most artists need to do when they start the art marketing process and are not well-known. You, the artist, are in control of your product and your message, how it is seen, and where. You are generating exposure, and once you become more established, you can integrate with a Pull Strategy.

Art Marketing and a Word about Exposure

 When embarking on your art marketing journey, all exposure is not equal. Just because someone says it’s good “exposure” for you and your work, doesn’t make it so. You want exposure to people who love art and might buy your art. Would you rather have your work in front of fifty art lovers and collectors, or 10,000 people at an airport who are just concerned about getting their bags or their next flight? Focus your art marketing efforts where you have the best chance of success.

Art Marketing – The Pull

 Pull Marketing uses strategies that encourage the potential client to seek out you and your product, or artwork out in an active way. Pull Marketing uses the building of  personal relationships, your community if you will.  These could include blogging, twitter, podcasting, email newsletters, referrals, promotions, and to a lesser extent, workshops and public speaking.

What you are attempting to do with Pull Marketing is to attract people to you, so they can discover you and your art. You are not interrupting their lives with your art marketing, you are giving people good reasons to voluntarily opt into your world. It’s kind of like getting the fish to get into your boat without ever being caught on a hook. Your not necessarily looking for millions of art collectors to build and sustain an art career, but you need to attract and retain a clientel in whatever ways you can.

There’s little question that Pull Marketing is where we as artists would like to be. What creative person wouldn’t want people to seek them and their work out? It is also the style of art marketing that takes longer, and is more difficult. Developing your work, your reputation, your brand, and your relationships takes time.  

Realistically, to get your ideal collector, client, customer,  or fan to discover you, you will likely want to develop a marketing plan that combines both Push and Pull Marketing Strategies.

Art Marketing – It all Starts with Your Art

All this carrying on about Push this and Pull that means nothing without the art. Right? It’s up to the artist to create the art, develop the style, and fine tune their vision before a whole lot can happen, generally speaking. There always exceptions I suppose.

 Wal-Mart gets all those products to their stores and to consumers by promising low prices. If there is a hot item they will set up a display, or have it easily available on a shelf so you can put it in your cart. They have large warehouses, huge inventories, and long-term forecasts. They are pushing, and they have a lot of pull.

Apple had their first computer and they had to get out there and push it. And they didn’t succeed right away. Trade shows, interviews, developing the product, so on and so on. Now, after many years, it is seldom that you ever see any Apple product on sale. They have been masters of pulling millions of people in, willingly.

Good Luck to you in your art, and your art marketing. Good luck also in finding a new iPhone on sale. Maybe you can find one at Wal-Mart…

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