I got a postcard through the door the other day, with a colour image on the front, and an invitation to an ‘art open evening’ on the back.

It breaks some of the cardinal rules of advertising.

Rule 1. Decide on the objective of your communication. Is it to get people to visit the exhibition / buy a painting / go to the website / remember your name / contact you to make an appointment /something else.

Rule 2. Remember who your audience is. Think about what they know already. Don’t assume anything. Tell them what they need to know to achieve your objective.

Headline: ‘XYZ Open Studios’.

Desired reaction: “Wow, must book that in the diary, and remember to take my cheque book!”

Actual reaction: “So what?”

The headline should be something where the answer can be “Yes!” e.g. ‘Do you like art? Believe in supporting local artists? Fancy visiting a FREE open exhibition of contemporary works?’

Image: dark green landscape

Desired reaction; “Mmm, that’s nice, I’d like that hanging on my wall, how big is it, wonder how much it costs, please can I see more paintings like that.”

Actual reaction: “That green’s a bit dark.”

The front image needs to be absolutely stunning (while being typical of the artist’s work) OR include more than 1 image (e.g. as a main shot + insets), to illustrate (geddit) the artist’s range and appeal to the maximum number of potential buyers.

The front could also include the title of the painting (to give it more meaning), and/or some key words to give an idea of the artist’s main themes. Gushy, arty words such as:

Light…Colour…Texture…Snapshots of a moment in time

The back of the postcard could include more images (impactful in black-and-white) as well as the date, venue, time and contact details.

A testimonial would be good too. Viewing the artist’s website I find he’s had good media reviews, won awards and been commissioned by some high level clients – but the postcard doesn’t mention any of this. It could be from a student with no experience at all.

Poor artist. He might be good at painting, but he’s not so good at selling himself.

I do hope it results in some business for him. Especially after he’s tramped the streets delivering all those postcards.

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