Questions to Ask Your Prospective Marketing Consulting Firm

What experience do you have with art marketing?

When you are considering a new marketing firm, your first question needs to address the firm’s knowledge base. There are a host of marketing consulting firms out there today, but not all of them are equipped to handle your needs. As an art dealer or gallery owner, you have unique concerns and issues to face as you try to make your way in a niche market, and you need someone who understands these concerns to help you meet your goals.

When you are shopping for a marketing firm, make sure you first ask detailed questions about the firm’s experience. Has the firm assisted companies in the art field in the past? If so, what were the results? Vague or general answers to these questions should weigh heavily on your decision making. For a firm to truly assist you in your marketing campaign, it needs to have specific, in-depth knowledge of the art community so it can help you formulate an individualized, effective plan of action.

What services do you provide to your clients and how do you measure progress?

Many marketing firms provide brief introductions to their services that give you a general idea of their methods, but these overviews leave much to the imagination. You need to know what they plan to do to get you in front of people and help you expand your client base — you need a specific strategy.

Therefore, you should ask detailed questions to dig into these firms’ services and what kind of progress you can expect to see from a marketing campaign. For instance, what kind of services have they found to be effective in marketing to prospective art buyers? Which combination of these services should you use, considering your gallery’s current size and resources?

Probing questions like these will let you know whether the firm in question understands your needs and is able to tailor its approach to your target market. In addition, by receiving answers to these questions, you won’t have any misconceptions about what exactly each firm can provide and the results you can expect to see. Making sure that you are both communicating clearly and you understand what a firm can offer will eliminate much of the stress in your decision-making process.

How much do your services cost?

Especially if you’re a smaller art dealer or the owner of a gallery that’s just starting out, cost is a crucial consideration when looking for a marketing consultant. You need to be sure that your advertising investment is going to see a return before you shell out a large sum of money on marketing.

Beware the firm that cannot or will not provide you with a price quote. Conversely, be cautious of the firm that gives you a number before understanding your needs. Marketing services are not one-size-fits-all, especially in the art world. A ballpark guess can be helpful, but once a firm has a good grasp of what your needs are and how it can fill those needs, the firm should be able to give you a more specific number in writing. This customized bid should itemize all the services that the firm would provide into an easily understandable breakdown.

Most firms can create a proposal for you within two to three business days, but watch out for email proposals that have little supporting information. This can be a sign of inexperience or just a more general approach to marketing. Professional marketing firms not only let you know exactly what you’re paying and what those costs go toward, but also what you can expect to gain from their services.

By the time a price agreement has been reached, you should have a good understanding of what the firm will be providing and at what frequency, and how the communication will be throughout the process. In addition, you should know the performance metrics, checkpoints for measuring progress, and the cost of the project overall. If any of these points aren’t completely clear, ask more questions. Any marketing professional will appreciate such questions, since it is his or her job to provide you with the best quality service and get you the outcome you’re looking for.

As an art dealer, outsourcing your marketing to a consulting company can be an incredibly helpful decision. It gives you the freedom to do what you do best, while allowing experts to help you expand your business in ways you may not have considered. That is why selecting a marketing firm to partner with is such a pivotal choice.

The firm you choose can be a make or break business decision, as the firm handles your day-to-day outreach. The competency of the firm’s professionals will determine whether you gain exposure, clientele and income, or simply spend a lot of money to gain little or nothing. Interviewing a firm before you make your final selection should give you all the information you need to identify who will be the best fit for your company, and help you build a positive relationship that will aid you in forging a path through the art-dealing field.

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The Curator’s Eye works with leading dealers from all over the world, bringing art collectors the finest selection of art, antiques and historical objects.

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