How to Sell Aviation Art at a Trade Show
We had a question from Nate, (not his real name) who is an artist that will be showing aviation art at the NBAA show in Orlando this year. We have some advice about how to sell more!
“I’m going to display and sell art at NBAA in Orlando in October. I don’t have a ton of money, I’m going ‘all-in’ on this event. I have a great corner booth and am planning a great display. How do I make the most of this opportunity?”
In a nutshell –
- Build a list of potential buyers
- Create a fantastic catalog
- Feature one piece of art per hour, with a guest speaker
- Follow up with specific customers after the show about their favorite piece.
1. Buy, borrow or build a list of potential buyers.
Just showing up at a trade show, and having a great booth, does not guarantee that you’ll have foot traffic to your booth, or make sales. You’re investing a lot in booth rent and travel. If you’re looking for advice on how to sell aviation art at a trade show, our first piece of advice is to invite as many people as you can to come see your art!
- Past Buyers
- A Lead Magnet
- Lead Capture Software on your website
- Social Media Connections
- Referral Program
- Other People’s Lists
- Rent Lists from Organizations or Brokers
2. Create a Catalog
You’ll want this to reflect positively on your brand, whether it’s online or on paper. (Printed catalogs are held in far more esteem by aviation decision makers!)
Besides photos, include the story behind each piece, and information about how the art is created.
There is not a lot of overlap between aviation professionals and art professionals – so you’ll have to assume that your buyers don’t have a lot of expertise in how to buy art.
Of course they will fall in love with some of your pieces, but even so, they will have to justify the purchase to themselves, to their board, to their accountant, or their best friend.
You can help them assure themselves and other stakeholders that they’re making a great investment by providing information about other pieces you’ve sold, with the prices they’ve sold for. (If that information is impressive!)
Also list galleries and installations that feature your work.
You’ll also want to explain the differences between the types of art you’re selling, and others on the market. Most non “art people” aren’t clear on the differences between an original, limited edition, or part of a series, or a reproduction.
(But they won’t want to reveal their ignorance at a trade show by asking! )
You can help them become more educated and confident in making a purchase by including all of this information in your catalog so they’re well-informed when they visit your booth.
3. During the Show
Some of your pieces will naturally be more prominent than others, no matter how well-designed your booth may be.
You can feature a different piece each hour in your most prominent display space. That way, as people walk by more than once, they will see different pieces.
You can also invite guest speakers to provide a brief (5-10 minute) lecture or discussion about the subject matter of your art. Invite a pilot who flew that aircraft, or a historian familiar with the period, or even an aircraft designer who can speak about a particular aviation topic.
Publish a schedule of these appearances, and make certain you have a few “family and friends” to attend each presentation or lecture. People will stop and listen!
Collect Leads – offer catalogs in exchange for business cards.
Make notes on the back of each business card about which piece the person asked questions about or spent the most time looking at.
4. After the Show
Send all of your leads repeated follow ups by mail and email.
- Newsletters including sales
- Schedules of where to see your art next.
- Ask for referrals when someone buys a piece. “Who else do you know that has similar taste in art?”
Each piece you sell, and each event you attend, extends you network as an artist, and improves your chances of selling you next piece at the price you want.