Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

The Art Bar at Kittles Art Supply

Thursday, November 1st, 2018
Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

Like most of us in the art supply business, John Kittle wears many hats. He is the owner, manager, lead art teacher, and lead framer at Kittles Art Supply in Show Low, Arizona, nestled in the White Mountains in a tightly knit rural community. Like many mom and pop shops, moms, pops and other family members help the business survive and thrive. Running a business in a sparsely populated area presents its own set of challenges; John points out his three core business strategies: selling art supplies, offering classes (including a summer camp) and running a custom frame shop. Catering to a small community means seizing every opportunity– and creating your own opportunities. Here is where the Art Bar comes in.

MacPherson’s Account Manager Kim Cichy clued us in to an innovative try-table that John designed, built and recently installed in the shop. The experience table—or Art Bar—acts as a bridge; an overlap between the customers who frequent classes and those who spend more time in the store, a connection between the products on the shelves and the experience of creating art in your own home. The station has also increased foot traffic and positively impacted sales.

John, who is an artist and designer in his own right, designed the Art Bar on his computer with a CAD program and then collaborated with a “builder-friend,” bringing the concept to life. The bar has been designed with both the customers’ and the staff’s needs in mind. For staff, it hasa repository for replacing the product, and items can’t fall off of it and make necessary mess. Angled like a drafting table for a comfortable drawing or painting position with a catchment to prevent pens, bushes or markers from rolling away, the bar has cubbies below that stock a wide variety of surfaces for customers to select from. The flat surface at the top of the bar features holes that house various containers of brushes, markers, gel pens and more.

Curating The Menu

Staff members become Art Bar-istas of sorts—they tidy the bar, notice what works and what doesn’t. The incorporation of a Buddha Board was key. The board reacts to water, allowing customers to experiment with different brushes allowing them the opportunity to make an informed decision on their purchase.  Testing brushes and experiencing synthetic vs. natural hair, different shapes, and handle lengths- with no messy clean up, paint stains or dirty tools makes the buying experience fun and educational.

A sample menu of the most popular products for testing out at the Art Bar include:

As customers use items at the Art Bar staff maintain the supplies and switch out materials as needed. The little shelves underneath with extra materials serve as a repository for staff to pull from. If the Art Bar inspires someone to ask to try a specific product that isn’t there, John pulls the item from the shelf, no problem. This “go for it” attitude results in positive experiences and translates to sales.

The Regulars

Who frequents the bar?

“The coloring trend is still big here—so we get groups of older women who love to color coming in and they beeline for the station. I put out differents sets for them to try on Johanna Basford coloring canvases and other surfaces. The station has made a positive impact on sales because people can get to know new sets and bring them home.”

While the crafty retirees are in and out almost daily, the Art Bar is just as popular with teens. On Fridays in their community, schools are either a half day or not in session at all. John has used this as an opportunity to host after-school art classes; after class is over, the “adolescent types” congregate around the table to continue creating and socializing. The low-stakes concept of an experience station invites people to relax and get to know products outside of a structured class environment and without the pressure or confusion of standing in an aisle trying to make a decision.

The key motivation for creating the Art Bar was allowing customers to explore different surfaces including mixed media paper, Ampersand boards and various sketchbooks. As you can see by the menu, it has turned into much more.

Do you have something like an Art Bar in your store? A kids area? Other innovative sales tools? Share your story with our community. Email us at artdogblog (@) MacPhersonArt.com

 

Artisan Expo: The Positive Impact of Workshops

Thursday, November 1st, 2018
Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

In September, Account Manager Mia Fesmire and Brand Marketing Manager Ariana Faustini represented MacPherson’s exclusive brands at a three-day art supply extravaganza in Santa Fe known as Artisan Expo. The bi-yearly consumer show is sponsored by Artisan Santa Fe, a retailer with locations in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Artisan Santa Fe founded Artisan Expo in 2000, and the event has grown over the years to become the largest art materials and instructional event in the world! They host over 100 half-day and full-day workshops led by expert instructors, as well as a vendor trade show where over 80 vendors cater to artists who travel from all over the country, eager to learn and ready to restock their studios. We wanted to share a few takeaways with our community, because we believe the Artisan Expo model is a profitable sales strategy for retailers when replicated on a small scale.

The MacPherson’s booth, fully stocked with Art Alternatives surfaces, MABEF easels, Derwent Inktense sets and POSCA markers on day one, ready to go.

Our experience: this year Artisan Expo saw record-breaking attendance with participation up 25%. We provided instructors with Art Alternatives canvases as well as assorted RGM palette knives to promote the product and encourage attendees to visit our booth to get the same products they use in their workshops. In addition to the samples, we brought Art Alternatives wood panels and canvases, MABEF easels, POSCA markers and Derwent Inktense sets.

Artisan Expo attracts creatives who have the resources to invest in their craft, either by enrolling in a workshop or by taking home higher end supplies. How do they do this? The answer can be broken down into three parts: 1) a thoughtfully put together long-form workshop, 2) taught by an expert 3) in conjunction with a targeted sale.

A Long-Form Workshop

There is a reason that college-level fine art courses are three hours, sometimes five. Art takes time. While quick demos or make and takes are strategies that work for some customers, people with artistic talent who are hungry to learn will revel in the extra time that a three or six hour workshop affords. This extended time helps artists gain confidence with a new technique, making them more likely to purchase the materials needed to continue practicing. They will leave rejuvenated and focused, inspired by the expert staff or instructor who spearheads the class. Some retailers are already taking this approach: this summer we covered an example of a successful two-day event at Dots and Doodles, with support from Royal Talens, which led with a movie screening of Loving Vincent followed by a painting workshop the next day. If you have the space and time to host an afternoon or full day workshop and have a community of artists to tap into, it is well worth the investment.

Aside from the length of the workshop, the title (and of course, the content) is worth focusing on.

Artisan Expo hosts workshops on book making, sumi ink, watercolor, encaustics, jewelry making, gilding and more. Choosing a topic, technique or material and titling it in an inventive way draws in a specific crowd that wants exactly what they are serving up. When glancing at the title, customers imagine what they might create and get inspired to take the next step: enroll!

Some well-titled workshops that caught our eye:

  • Inventing Your Own Alphabet: Understanding Letterforms and Calligraphy
  • Using Encaustics with Mixed Media Over Photographs
  • Layers: Capturing the Santa Fe Landscape in Wax
  • Think & Paint in Aesthetic Categories
  • Inventing Cityscapes with Zentangle® Inspired Art
  • How To Travel Anywhere and Paint Small Watercolors

Great titles often include strong verbs. What will they be doing? Inventing, capturing, traveling, thinking. The title also specifies a medium in conjunction with a style (incorporating photographs, broadening aesthetic style, Zentangle, plein air painting on the go). The site-specific class attracts people with an attachment to your community’s landscape or cityscape. 

This specificity is key. Spending the day (and the price of tuition) on “Acrylic Painting 101” is not very motivating; try “Light Up Your World with Acrylic Painting on Dura-Lar Film.” By being more specific, you reach more people. You are highlighting a technique and connecting it to a visual (lighting up your world) or another medium (watercolor). Reaching the attendees who are actually interested in what specifically the class is focused on, you’re (probably) more likely to turn those artists into avowed fans of your events.

Taught By An Expert

Many of us know from experience that a good teacher can propel us forward in directions we never thought possible. The instructors—whether they are expert artists on your staff or outside hires—will make or break this experience. Workshops are a great opportunity to pair expert artists with relevant product, and to work with vendors to feature specific items. Make sure the instructor is well-acquainted with the product you are spotlighting- they are advertising the expertise your customers should expect from you. Fine artists and enthusiasts love to get technical, and seeing why a specific product works best for a nuanced technique will keep them interested and engaged.

A Targeted Sale

When class is over and students are on their way out the door, they discover those very products they were working with in class are on sale! Offering a sale of specific items in conjunction with the workshop is the finishing touch that seals the deal. Once someone has already invested in a high quality half-day or full-day workshop, throwing in a handful of art supplies or an easel that will allow them to recreate the experience at home and practice techniques they are committed to will be a no brainer. Ensure you are well-stocked in any products used for the class, and have the instructor/staff member offer to walk students through your store/booth to answer any additional questions they may have.

Alternative: Compromise With A Try-Table

If you don’t have the resources or space for a workshop, having a “Try-Table” or a “Make It Take It” station is a great way to engage with artists. While the paper pads on various displays are useful for seeing what a marker or pencil looks like on paper, providing chairs and a full size surface allows people to get comfortable and really dig in. We reached out to John Kittles of Kittles Art Supply in Arizona to learn more about their successes with their custom-designed Art Bar. Click here to read the feature and discover how you might set one up in your store.

*Pro tip: If you organize a “Make It Take It,” include instructions as a part of the takeaway, and add hashtags and encourage people to share their work using on social media, using the hashtags. It goes a long way to expand your reach!

Are you already replicating Artisan Expo small scale? Celebrating the recent success of a half-day or full-day workshop? We’d love to hear about your experience and share it with our community. Share your story with us at ArtDogBlog (@) MacPhersonArt.com

Ready, Set, Go: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday & Giving Tuesday

Thursday, October 25th, 2018
Cassie Brehmer, Midwest Account Manager & Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

Mark your calendars! While you’re focusing on sales and promotions for the winter holidays, keep these three retail-related holidays on your radar. We’ve put together key links, hashtags and merchandising ideas so that you can easily integrate Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday into your promotions next month.

Black Friday, November 23rd

Black Friday is the informal name for the day following Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday of November. Traditionally recognized as the beginning of the holiday shopping season in the United States, Black Friday is an opportunity to reach a wide audience with deep discounts.

While this “holiday” is often utilized by larger nation-wide retailers to have “blow out” sales, in recent years some companies, like REI, have taken a different approach; not participating due to the perception that the focus on shopping takes away from the otherwise family-oriented holiday weekend. To keep your Black Friday sale family friendly, consider holding a small event with a family theme in addition to a sale. Choose a project like rock painting, alcohol ink on yupo, or ornament marbling.

  • Merchandising Tips
    • Consider having one or two items on closeout pricing. For great deals, check the October SuperMarkdowns list on the Macpherson’s homepage in the Tools drop down menu.
    • Alternatively, be a little cheeky and offer your own version of a Black Friday sale: a sale on all of your black paints, papers, sketchbooks, pens, markers, spray paint, etc.
  • Social Media
    • Black Friday is a great day to post on social media—in 2017 more than 130 million people discussed Black Friday on Instagram and Facebook…that’s more than the Superbowl!
    • Announce your holiday hours and any promotions your followers can expect over the coming weeks.
    • Hashtags: #BlackFriday #deals #giveaway #sale #Christmas #Thanksgiving #Retail #ShopSmall

Small Business Saturday, November 24th

Small Business Saturday is a day promoted by American Express and the United States Small Business Administration as part of the Shop Small movement—a nationwide effort to celebrate small businesses and strengthen communities.

The “Shop Small Studio” is full of free, easy-to-download promotional materials, ideas for events and tips for effective merchandising. To participate in Small Business Saturday and access these resources, you do not need to be affiliated with American Express. For access to even more planning resources, register your business here and receive promotional goodies such as stickers, balloons and tote bags.

  • Merchandising Tips
    • Feature locally made products on the day of, as well as store merchandise like t-shirts, mugs or tote bags.
    • Invite local artisans to set up a booth in your store.
    • Host a creative event for children or adults like “Make a Wishlist” where children can walk around the store and write down which items make it on their dream list for the holidays.
    • Utilize the Shop Small Studio to create custom signage.
  • Social Media
    • Share your story. Reconnect. Show your community why you love being a part of your neighborhood, and how valuable this season is to your business. Honest communication and a humble thank you will make a meaningful impression, differentiating yourself as a small local business that truly cares.
    • Hashtags: #ShopSmall #smallbizsat #smallbusinesssaturday

Giving Tuesday, November 27th

#GivingTuesday is “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.”

Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to build relationships with an organization or cause that your customers care about. Register here and download the media toolkit. Click here to see what other retailers have done in the past.

  • Merchandising Tip
    • Get wishlists from local community centers or arts organizations and set up donation boxes so your customers can do a little good while shopping for gifts
    • Poll customers or staff to help choose an organization to contribute to that is meaningful to your community
  • Social Media
    • Hashtags: The creators of #GivingTuesday say, “Create your own hashtag. We’ve seen #GivingZooDay, #GivingTreesDay, #GivingShoesDay, #iGiveCatholic, and more. Have fun creating your own twist on #GivingTuesday.”

#GivingTuesday even has an extremely well thought out social media toolkit with pre-written posts to help you post online. Tag @givingtues in your posts.

Krink Super Black Permanent Ink Markers In Action

Friday, October 19th, 2018
Diana De Sousa, Krink

Reminder to our retailers: please feel free to use these vendor resources for social media or marketing purposes!

Krink Super Black permanent ink markers are great everyday markers and a go-to for many artists. The Super Black alcohol-based ink is permanent and opaque; it works well on almost everything. The high quality ink comes in a range of marker styles with value-action delivery systems, ensuring your marker will not dry out. All handmade in the USA.

Joe Grillo + K-70 Permanent Ink Marker

Joe Grillo (@joegrillojoegrillo) is a Meteorcity-born and Virginia Beach-based artist. Here he uses the K-70, which has a double-sided nib, 3mm bullet or 5mm chisel, that writes on most surfaces.

Rostarr + K-51 Permanent Ink Marker

Romon Kimin Yang (@rostarrnyc), aka Rostarr, is an artist living and working in Brooklyn. Rostarr selected the K-51 for a recent project. This marker has a 15mm wide tip and is great for larger drawing, making signs, and calligraphy.

Shantell Martin + K-71 Permanent Ink Marker

Shantell Martin (@shantellmartin) is a New York-based artist who creates with black and white lines. The K-71 is one of Krink’s best selling markers. It is an excellent all-around marker and works well on paper, cardboard, metal, and painted surfaces.

For more information about these products, please visit krink.com or contact diana@krink.com.

Super(natural) Merchandising: Window Display Or Portal To Another World?

Friday, October 19th, 2018

Last month, we showcased budget-friendly strategies for eye-catching window displays, with a focus on creating a unique experience and a call for submissions from retailers who are proud of their windows. The holidays offer opportunity for an extra dose of creativity, and it helps to have enthusiastic staff who take initiative. We are pleased to share a creative window just in time for Halloween: this Stranger Things display grabbed attention last year at JWS Art Supplies, in Great Barrington, MA, a quaint tourist town near the Berkshires. JWS has a reputation for having fun window displays that allows them to get extra creative when their favorite holiday comes around, bending some of the rules most adhere to—this window doesn’t feature art supplies, but it draws traffic all the same!

Stranger Things is a popular show on Netflix in its third season. Set in the fictional town Hawkins, Indiana, in the 1980s, the science-fiction horror series has somewhat of a cult following. Think synthy, spooky and supernatural, or, as it is called on the show, the “upside down.” The story revolves around a group of kids’ experiences after their friend disappears and a girl with otherworldly powers mysteriously appears shortly after.

For people who know Stranger Things, it’s an instant draw and a photo opportunity with the lifesize “statement piece”—the Demigorgon, a supernatural demon on the show that staff member Meghan Spaniol recreated with a mannequin, chicken wire, newspaper, paint and a lot of hot glue. For people who have no idea what Stranger Things is, the window is a conversation waiting to happen. From the box of waffles to the Christmas lights, every prop ties into the story.

“We’re known to have a lot of displays in our town. What’s funny is our window doesn’t usually have a lot of art merchandise,” manager Emily Levine muses. “We use the art supplies to actually create the window displays, and those bring people in. Our repeat customers love the window, look forward to it and remember it year to year. New people come in and say, I didn’t know you were here! I love your Halloween set up!”

Logistics for creating a display can feel overwhelming, especially during the holidays. Catering to staff interests and skill sets and using inexpensive or free materials helps.

“We use a lot of supplies that we carry, and we don’t budget much for them. We probably didn’t spend more than $50 on this window, I would say probably even less. We have to be pretty resourceful since we change our window so often, about every two months or every month if it is a holiday. The mannequin we got for free because somebody was getting rid of it, and other things are usually made out of cardboard and foam core scraps. Our biggest expense would be lights, and fabric, which we use a lot so we have a pretty good stock of them.”

Tying In Product & Incentivizing with a Monthly Challenge

Balance is key: while other-worldly windows that draw on pop culture are a great way to create an experience for customers, bringing that imaginative spark to a window that focuses on a specific product line or targets a specific artistic community can drive sales.

Another JWS hit from last year was a window featuring giant sculptures (something of a crowd pleaser in stores) of COPIC markers accompanied by a jumbo illustration done by Meghan. This display is inspired by Instagram challenges and tuned into the social media following for COPIC markers. Staff created a monthly challenge for customers to boost sales of specific color lines.

“Customer participation is growing quickly for the COPIC challenge. They receive 15% off the bundle of three markers when they buy it for the challenge and if they tag us on social media they get a discount on any item the next time they come in the store. We display the art they make in the store if people bring it in, or they can also tag us on Instagram to enter. If they win they get the next month’s bundle for free. It’s picking up each time we do it, and with any new thing you’re trying it takes some time.”

Your windows can be a creative playground, a connection to your social media presence and an open invitation. We look forward to learning more from our community and seeing what the holidays have in store.

Do you have a window you are proud of? A monthly challenge your store has championed? Share it with us at artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com. Or better yet, document your next window display design process, from ideation to execution. We’d love to celebrate your team and amplify your expertise.

Innovative Collaboration: Calligraphy With POSCA

Friday, October 5th, 2018

Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

The beauty of our industry is in the connections we make. Oftentimes shop owners and staff are uniquely situated to connect with niche communities and play a part in sustaining local art scenes. Annette Wichmann of Kensington Art Supply & Instruction in Calgary, AB Canada has done just that. Her close ties with a local calligraphy guild and her rapport with customers, instructors and staff strengthens the tightly knit and growing calligraphy community in Calgary – and her fearless exploration of POSCA paint markers and Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces has given us serious food for thought!

A scripture-inspired piece on wood panels; two quotes on denim and burlap Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces.

Inspired by Assistant Brand Manager Tucker Russell’s POSCA demo at Dealer Workshop and intrigued by the Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces, Annette had an idea – and she knew her calligraphy instructor Kerri Forster would be game.

Using the POSCA markers and the Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces, Kerri created several works of art. She used a chisel tip and the PC-17K with amazing results and utilized smaller tips for embellishments and details. MacPherson’s Account Manager Jackie Hangebrauck brought different creative surfaces for people to try: burlap, denim, wooden slats. Calligraphy Guild members attended, new and repeat customers tried it out, instructors took what they learned at the demo back to their classes. Annette ran a 20% off sale on POSCA and the Art Alternatives Creative Surfaces during the demo and the following weekend; sales were positively impacted, people were curious and everyone got to try all eight POSCA tips.

Right: A quote on both the back and front of the glass of an empty frame. Kerri loved being able to work on glass, a difficult task without POSCA on hand!

Kerri (left) outlined why POSCA markers are delightful for calligraphers:

  1. Versatile surfaces. “Paper is fine, but you always want to put your calligraphy somewhere else. Glass and boxes and walls and furniture… a brush and paint might do it, but not always. Having a POSCA marker with all those different tricks is kind of like, wow, this is fun.”
  2. The Nibs. “One of the nibs has bristles and calligraphers love that, because we need the bristles to move with angles and speed and pressure. The PC-17K is like a brick with a slight bevel. I took an X-Acto knife and cut that bevel off to make a square, so I was able to get my thin strokes even thinner.”
  3. Layering. “Some markers are stinky, or transparent, or dry too fast, you can’t build color up unless you are on a white surface. POSCA is super helpful for learning, also for doing backgrounds, adding embellishments, doodling or going back into the serifs.”
  4. Coverage & Finish. “It sure has nice coverage and is really nice opaque with a flat finish. These markers were so fun to play with and it was a real treat being able to blend.” Cassie Brehmer, Macpherson’s Account Manager, took it upon herself to create a demo of how blendable POSCA markers are! Check out the video below to see how they blend on a non-porous surface like YUPO paper.

The result? Boosted sales, additional interest in calligraphy classes, and a happy, inspired instructor.

Sales Tip: Novelty Experiences & Instruction

Our conversations with Kerri and Annette got us thinking about savvy ways to incorporate staff talents and pique customer interest in products and classes. If calligraphy is a poetic, intense, lifelong love, hand-lettering is the enthusiastic younger sibling. By cultivating calligraphy in your store, you are tapping into the powerful trend of hand-lettering and deepening what might have been a one time purchase into a lifelong artistic practice.

Novelty Experience: Unlikely Demos

Combine two products that don’t usually get put together and see what happens. “Using different tools help people explore and get more comfortable / excited,” Kerri explains. See below for a holiday demo idea.

Face to Face Instruction

“People buy a calligraphy kit and say, think, Well this doesn’t work. That is like buying a piano and saying This doesn’t make music!”  We need instruction in real time: face-to-face connection is crucial. If someone runs into issues with a pen at home, they put it down and move on. With workshops, demos or in-store conversation, there is space for encouragement. “I teach people to understand the basic tools and help them understand the journey,” Kerry says. “Calligraphy is exciting and difficult and fun and terrible at the same time. You need encouragement and reflection.”

Customized Moleskine Cahier Notebooks, written with FW Inks. On the right: Ella Minnow Pea was inspired by this book.

Irresistible and Cost-Effective Freebies

Customize the cover of a journal your customer has just purchased!

Annette elaborates:

“I noticed the Calligraphy Guild next to me at a pop up event and I had the Moleskine Cahier notebooks with me. Someone thought it would be cool to write someone’s name on it. Then we started doing quotes. From then on there was a constant line of customers. So now Kerri comes into the store for Christmas or Valentine’s Day: the first customization is free, then I ask for a nominal fee for additional ones. It gets people interested in the products Kerri is using and gets them to try classes.”

Combining unlikely products? Close with a niche art community in your town or city? Let us know – email us at artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com. We’d love to learn more and share your story with the greater industry community.

Paperwork People Actually Want

Thursday, September 27th, 2018
Cassie Brehmer, Midwest Account Manager, MacPherson’s

This holiday season gift your customers with basic instructions for simple activities and projects for all ages. These Activity Sheets are especially helpful for aunts, uncles and grandparents who may be seeing their young family members for the only time this year. Plenty of easy DIY projects can be found online; all you have to do is assemble the desired items in-store in an easily shoppable layout, highlight that you have a FREE activity sheet, and provide an example of a finished project for reference. For the Holiday Season, going a little crafty is ok! Make sure to include your social media handles, website, and store hours and information on this handout so customers can connect and remember the value you added to their shopping experience.

Examples:

Kid’s Popsicle Stick Ornaments

  • Instructions like these, from the blog Fireflies and Mudpies, are available with a quick Google Search and provide ample inspiration to get you started creating your own project sheet.
  • Materials to highlight:
    • Acrylic paint or paint markers
    • Paint brushes
    • Popsicle sticks
    • Wood glue
    • Glitter/pompons
    • Scissors
    • Hemp/Twine

Photo from Francois et Moi

Shibori How-To

  • Indigo has been making a big comeback, and Shibori dyed fabrics are all the rage. Encourage your customers to try this trend by providing instructions on how to properly tie dish towels or flour sack towels to create the perfect patterns
  • Materials to highlight

Retailer’s Choice: Next “Demo Days” Feature

Thursday, September 27th, 2018
Cassie Brehmer, Midwest Account Manager, MacPherson’s

Last month we introduced a new feature called Demo Days, which outlines instructions and materials needed to create an in store demonstration or workshop.

Regular in-store activities help to foster a sense of community and make your store a destination spot for artists and hobbyists alike. Allowing your customers to participate in a hands-on activity that educates them on products and lets them leave your store with an item they are confident they can recreate. We’ve put together a list of demo ideas for 4th Quarter. Let us know which activity inspires you and we’ll outline how to do the most requested one in our next Demo Days feature. Want to see something that’s not on the list? E-mail us at artdogblog (@) macphersonart.com to let us know!

  • DIY wrapping paper – block printing on craft paper
  • Giant snowflakes with decorative papers.
  • Wintertime felt trees
  • Furniture antiquing techniques
  • Face painting for parents
  • Making your own calligraphy inks
  • Marbling glass ornaments
  • Oven Baked Clay – beads, ornaments, and more

The Wet Paint Way: 4 Strategies For Successful Social Media

Thursday, September 27th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

Wet Paint is an independently owned store in St. Paul, MN that is well known for their social media and marketing verve. They organize regular in-store events, classes, weekly newsletters, an interactive website, regular social media postings via Instagram, Facebook, a bit of Twitter and Google+ content as well as a blog on WordPress and videos via YouTube. They also maintain a steady flow of print materials. In short, they do a lot. This dynamic, multi-platform strategy is made possible by the dedicated Social Media and Marketing team: Kristina Fjellmen and Chris Nolt.

Clockwise from the left: Kristina Fjellmen, Chris Nolt, Darin Rinne, and Scott Fares

Kristina and Chris are both working artists with years of experience on the sales floor. Kristina works full time as the Marketing Manager. She recruited Chris to help with the social media about a year ago. With Chris focusing on social media, Kristina works full time on the website, email digest, print materials and marketing strategies. Chris spends 1 to 2 hours a day on social media as well as one full shift (8 hours) on content creation and curation each week. Both are artists in their own right: Chris is a mixed media artist, working with ink and watercolor for about 5 years; he also designs laser cut jewelry and has dabbled in music production, printmaking and writing methods. Kristina works with textile or fiber-based sculpture and installation and is also a theater artist. Both of them mention the Wet Paint community as a huge draw to working there. “I think we are pretty lucky to like our jobs,” Kristina notes. “I know that enthusiasm influences how we approach the marketing and social media work we do.”

While Wet Paint maintains a strong online presence, they haven’t neglected print materials. Many of their customers like to take home a pamphlet or schedules of events and classes or a catalog of sale items. The consistent production of schedules and catalogs in combination with a “steady drip” of digital content allows for a broad customer reach that respects a preference for paper while also engaging with click-happy millennials.

Breaking It Down

The following list is designed to be helpful for everyone, wherever your store falls on on the marketing and social media spectrum: from tentatively googling “Why do I need an Instagram?” to having a dedicated social media team.

1. Holy Trifecta: Products, Services & Real Life Interactions

Much of Wet Paint’s content touches one, two or all three points of this trifecta. Their posts showcase a product, clue the audience into an experiential opportunity and/or reference real life interactions with customers.

A weekly special called “Customer Questions” features real life in-store questions from customers with answers provided by a rotating list of staff members. These posts generate conversation and interest, as well as reminding their customers that they have an educated and trusted team of artists on staff. Other store-to-social connections are video demos of new products, favorite products, or products that people have lots of questions about. Conversations on the floor inspired Chris to create this video, which features the Wet Paint community while demystifying the pronunciation of a paint color:

When content stems from real life connections, relationships and interactions in the store, the bridge between the abstract, digital realm of the internet and your very real store strengthens. New followers and subscribers become customers.

2. Identify Your Voice (And Use It)

The bottom line: be authentic. The passion and commitment Chris and Kristina have for the community of artists and art enthusiasts who step into Wet Paint shows. Chris puts it well:

“Everything I post, I want to make it feel like it’s a conversation in the store. Straightforward, honest and casual. All of the staff here are working artists with a lot of character, and customers get attached to certain people. They’ll ask for them on the phone, they’ll come in on specific days when that person is there. I’m okay with adding child-like excitement to my copy, or talking about when something is adorable or cute. We had a whole post all about how cute Japanese pens are. Because they are! And people loved it.”

Wet Paint’s instagram is chock full of personality, character, silliness, artsiness and content that gets people pumped up about art supplies. To learn more about how to develop your store’s voice, here are some useful tips.

3. Save Time With A Little Tech

If you don’t have a dedicated team for social media, that’s okay. These strategies can be scaled down as needed based on what resources and time you do have. Try synching the social media platforms you use (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc) with a social media management tool that “funnels” all your posts to the proper channels. These tools allow you to create multiple versions of a single post for all the platforms you use and post to all of them with just one click. Pre-schedule your posts for the week so that you are not thinking on the fly everyday—it will post automatically.

4. Consistent & Imperfect

Consistency is key. It doesn’t matter if you post four times a day on three different platforms or twice a week on one… just pick a method and stick with it. Let followers or subscribers know what to expect, and they’ll keep coming back for more. Being consistent means giving up perfection. You can waste time hesitating over language in an Instagram post, but it lasts about a minute on the internet. It may drive someone to click, come into the store or buy something but if you mess up, no one is harping on it. Think of your online presence as a growing portfolio. Practice makes progress!

…OK, Go!

Once you get a handle on your content, clarify the way you’d like to talk about it, set up a realistic system for posting and commit to a “just do it” attitude, you are ready. Whether you are dipping your toe into social media or looking to revamp your marketing strategies, these tactics can help you strengthen relationships, build new ones and get your products and services to the people. And, in line with the “Wet Paint Way,” try to have fun while doing it!

Come To My Window: Create Innovative, Inviting Budget-Friendly Window Displays

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018
Catherine Monahon, Copywriter, MacPherson’s

While the upcoming holidays are a great incentive to create expressive, themed window displays, we think any time is a good time to step up your display game. Our Emeryville office is just down the street from a bustling quirky-chic shopping destination in Berkeley, CA. While our designers were hunting for inspiration this summer, they couldn’t help but notice the impact of window displays in this creative retail hub. Nearby stores whose window displays we love include Papercraft, Athropologie, and a local toy/art supply store that specializes in the weird and wacky.

We discovered a handful of resources from the creative geniuses at Anthropologie; click here to learn more about how they design their store experience, from window displays to promotions to discounted items.

Change the experience, change the results

This article outlines seven easy, low-cost tips for displays that catch the eye and draw people in.

Staff skill set

Discover your employees hidden (or not so hidden) talents! This article showcases the portfolio of an artist who worked for Anthropologie as a display coordinator. Check in with your staff and discover who may have a knack for construction, installation or arranging. Maybe someone on your team is into a little-known craft that can add craftsmanship and intrigue to your display, like paper quilling.

A clever window display by Fortnum & Mason in London, 2016.

Get Featured!

We’d love to see your store’s window displays – please email us at artdogblog@macphersonart.com include a photo or two and the names of employees or community members who had a hand in the design or construction.

Information Worth Sharing: New Video From Golden, Perfect For Painters – Minimizing Support Induced Discoloration (SID)

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018
Golden Artist Colors

Support Induced Discoloration (SID), what is it? and how to minimize it. from Golden Artist Colors on Vimeo.

Proper preparation can change everything. Set your staff up for success when chatting with customers and ensure that your community gets the best results when painting, from start to finish. Golden’s new video demos step-by-step how to minimize Support Induced Discoloration (SID). SID occurs when contaminants are drawn into paints and mediums as they dry – it is most noticeable with light colors, gel mediums and glazes. This video demos how to prepare a canvas or board with Gloss Medium to minimize SID before painting.

Videos are quick and easy to share on Facebook – a great way to boost your organic reach with valuable content. Check out Golden’s other videos on Vimeo and YouTube for additional resources.