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SMS Marketing for Independent Art Galleries

SMS Marketing for Independent Art Galleries

Although visitor numbers to Britain’s museums and art galleries have fallen over recent years, the independent art gallery sector is nonetheless a hugely important part of the British economy, not just with its tremendous cultural value but also with its educational role and commercial functions. The greatest drop in visitor figures is reported to come from the major exhibitors sponsored by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport – meaning that for smaller, independent galleries who are ready to innovate and adopt new approaches, the time has never been better to take advantage of these changing audience trends and reach out to those in search of new experiences in the arts and culture sector.

One way in which independent art galleries can extend their reach and attract new visitors, patrons and exhibitors is through SMS Marketing, a simple and cost-effective channel that has proven to be extremely effective. In this article, we look at five ways independent art galleries can make the most of the medium.

1. News & Reviews

News and reviews are a key marketing tool for many art galleries both large and small and ensuring the effective distribution of features relating to the latest exhibitions is essential to letting existing patrons, new visitors and the wider media know what is going on. In addition, good PR can also play a part in helping to build the venue’s reputation, which in turn can serve to attract new and exciting artists of the right calibre and profile – crucial to maintaining public interest in the venue.

Social media has provided an exciting and valuable platform for the art industry over the last decade, with the infinite possibilities available to create and share graphic and multimedia content. However, this has also resulted in an incredibly crowded space where it is extremely hard to make the work of exceptional artists stand out and draw the attention it deserves. For many galleries, the time involved in creating and running high-quality social media campaigns simply isn’t generating the anticipated returns.

SMS Marketing is a great way to reignite your marketing and PR efforts by allowing you to ensure that news and reviews are literally delivered straight into the hands of a select audience who already have a proven interest in what’s going on at your space – after all, they have already chosen to receive these messages from you and given you their express consent for you to use their personal mobile number. This means that any SMS message you send will be treated with significantly greater importance than similar alerts received via traditional channels, helping to guarantee that your audience both reads and responds.

2. Previews and Openings

Invitations to previews and opening nights, both public and private, have traditionally always been sent by email. But with more and more of the population turning to mobile browsing and inboxes becoming flooded with ever more spam, it is harder and harder to be sure that your invitations will ever be seen by the right people and at the right time. Getting the right audience through the doors when it matters most is greatly important to the success of both individual exhibitions as well as the gallery’s longer-term future, and therefore making sure that guests receive their invitations and confirm attendance at the earliest opportunity is essential. SMS Marketing offers the perfect way to manage this aspect of the business. With simple, outbound SMS Marketing, an example invitation might read something like:

“You are cordially invited to the VIP opening of Ed Brown’s exhilarating new exhibition ‘Shadows’ on Friday 23rd March at the Lockside Gallery. RSVP 16 March – 01928 345 454. Visit locksidegallery.com/shadows for more information…”

In this example, the guest is able to confirm their attendance by telephone or online, however, one way messaging is used. With the introduction of two way messaging the process could be further simplified:

“You are cordially invited to the VIP opening of Ed Brown’s exhilarating new exhibition ‘Shadows’ on Friday 23rd March at the Lockside Gallery. Reply ATTEND by 16/03/2018 to confirm your attendance.  Visit locksidegallery.com/shadows for more information…”

Replies to such messaging can be managed through an online system, allowing you to manage your guest list for the event as easily as possible.

3. Special Events

The same techniques described in the previous section can be equally effective for promoting one-off events at your gallery, from workshops and lectures to cultural evenings and charity auctions. As well as being perfect for promoting the event to your audience, SMS Marketing is ideal for managing admissions at the event itself. SMS Marketing can be used to issue ticket codes for door staff to check, or even to supply QR codes that can be electronically scanned. The system you choose to use is entirely up to you, but either approach can help to present an up to date and professional image for your venue as well as ensuring that your event runs as smoothly as possible.

If you are planning to run a larger scale marketing campaign for an event using digital marketing, traditional print media or even radio and television advertising, then consider using an SMS shortcode and keyword combination to support your efforts. These are often used to run promotions such as text to win competitions. Your marketing might include a CTA such as:

“Win VIP tickets to the launch of the exhilarating new ‘Shadows’ exhibition by the acclaimed artist Ed Brown – text SHADOWS to 87007 for your chance to be there!”

4. Membership Management

If your gallery’s business model uses a membership model for your visitors and patrons, then SMS Marketing is an ideal way to manage your scheme. SMS can be used to invite new visitors to become paid members of your gallery, as well as confirming that they have successfully registered and paid, as well as letting them know when their membership is due for renewal, and providing information of members-only offers and events.

In addition, you can use your membership to build your SMS marketing list, allowing you to send members messages about all of your news, events, launches etc as detailed in the previous sections.

5. Artist Management

Of course, as well as ensuring that your visitors and patrons are kept fully up to date with everything that’s happening at your gallery, it is equally important that your artists and their agents are kept in the loop – and SMS marketing can be used for this too. Whether you are curating a multi-artist exhibition, looking for new talent or confirming arrangements with a confirmed artist, SMS Marketing is simple, convenient and by far the most reliable way to ensure that the right people get the right information when it matters the most.

To learn more about how your art gallery could benefit from SMS Marketing, give our award-winning team of experts a call now on 0800 954 5305.

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