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Who makes it on the net?

Marketing  Musings on Art

1998 Year 1 No. 6

Aug 27

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See also the other journals:

Daily Drawing 1.31 Creative Journal 1.6 Pablo Journal 1.4 Art Journal 1.6

621, in a crowd

Learning from the heritage

Beckmann / Joe

David's lesson

Dear Partners:


I had a hard time during the weekend as my incoming mail server got stuck. I haven't retrieved my mail yet, and as they keep it for 7 days only, chances are I won't get it at all. That's bad, and I changed my mail configuration so that this hopefully won't happen again. But we all know Murphy's law, and it applies to computers in a perfect way.

Artists revisited

Also I managed to add pictures to Robert Schaefer's site, reworking all blowups to have nice frames with passepartouts. In Internet Explorer, the frames are colored differently, too, whereas in Netscape the frame color is equal to the background color. I completed the site for Anne Stahl and added a site for Tina Tacke. Both come great, I like them very much. Have a look!

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Swapping ads

Above you find the first ad not related to Art Quarter. Nancy K. Belle asked for swap ads, and I applied reluctantly knowing that she had 15,000 subscribers, we only several hundreds. But she approved reassuring me that they began small, too. So I added this ad to Daily Drawing and the other journals, our ad will appear in her ezine on Sunday. Of course, hers is text only, so she was pleased to see a nice graphic ad in exchange.

Please honor our sponsors ...


   Commission your own portrait,
or that of a loved one ...

   by Tina Tacke, Gallery Clay at Art Quarter  

Pro domo ads

The advertisement for single works like the one above is established now. It is fun, and the works look great in this setting. It is amazing what can be delivered with thumbnails, and I am really embarrassed when I look at thumbnails I did half a year, even moths ago. They look awful, and I could not help. Now they are just fine. Same applies to blowups. I get better. I still borrow much from Mark Harden's Artchive and Carol Gerten's Fine Art, but I am forced to scan myself if I want to prove my statements, I just got many more pictures in my head and in my books than I can find there.

Ads paid for

I started with Jim Daniel's Biz Web Gazette, booking for 4 weeks. 2 weeks later he ran a special offer at 50%. Too late. He is not very expensive, but not cheap either. In the meantime, I booked a lot more ads in small and large ezines, and I guess I will do even more in the future. Have to do some bookkeeping for them, too.


I paid for them last week but did not use it yet - got no time. I'm curious if it will be as effective as they pretend. We'll see, it doesn't run off. Maybe next week.

New organization

FindMail seems to run fine now, information from the autoresponders seem to work fine, too, so this is quite a relief. I still do get subscriptions to my address, wonder where they come from, I must have overlooked something, but this is manageable. The effort of the last week pays off.


More inquiries keep coming in, I have to set up an application link for artists and galleries to ease things. I will add another painter next time as soon as I get the material. So eventually we will grow, more galleries will come, so the original plan will be filled.

Please honor our sponsors ...


   Commission your own portrait,
or that of a loved one ...

   by Tina Tacke, Gallery Clay at Art Quarter  

Art Quest Feature

On the store page, I feature other commercial sites, and one of them is Art Quest. They call themselves "A listing service connecting art buyers and art sellers by email" and claim to feature 4000 works from $20 to $ 20 million. It is a database where you buy an entry for a time span. It is hard to say whether it is successful, but they sure have traffic.

November feature

They feature one artist every month, giving away a work of art ot the featured artist in a contest. Of course, the artist has to donate that work. There is a lengthy article with a personality story, some more images, and this feature story is kept on record so that it may even produce results in the future.

I applied for this feature, and was chosen for November. Right now we look for an appropriate work to give away. Maybe you have an idea. It is always hard to say which will attract most.

As it turned out, the featured artist can list as many works as s/he wants to with the database free of charge also. I sent them all pictures featured in Gallery Beck.

Who makes it on the net?

A quote from a letter of an affiliate partner: At the moment apart from a few big players who can afford to spend a lot of money (Amazon) and others whose product (computers) is exactly right for starters and others who play on the publics' wish to get rich quick (mlm and other business opportunity schemes) I don't believe many are making fortunes selling on the Internet, the reason being that the general public is not ready yet. But they soon will be ready, just as supermarkets took away business from the small shops the Internet will become a standard way of buying and selling. When that day comes there will be plenty of business for everybody who has learnt the new rules and who is ready. I intend to be ready.


I guess we met here to find out, too, and I for my part certainly want to actively shape that future if I can. Back in 1996, when Amazon started, nobody knew if and how books could be sold on the net. Now that they proved it to us, we all know that it wokrs the way they did it. If it works for Barnes and Noble, for example, we don't know really. Some claim it doesn't. So you could not even say it is proven that books sell on the net in general. Certainly it is too late to try to start marketing books nowadays, because Amazon already got the market and certainly will do everything to keep it. (Rumors have it that the founder of Amazon is short of becoming billionaire.)

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Great bust

   Commission your own portrait,
or that of a loved one ...

   by Tina Tacke, Gallery Clay at Art Quarter  


There is an interesting story about books on the German market. The founder of telebuch.de started biz back in 1996, too, with btx which was kind of a failure in Germany (not in France, however). Last year she switched to the web, as did Telekom, renaming btx to T-online. She had a clause specifying shipping free of charge for orders of DM 80 plus. In January, she looked at this clause and found something I call a value rigidity.

Value rigidity

A value rigidity is something you don't see because you always did it that way, everybody does it that way, you just can't see it as it is invisible to everybody. Now it is common to charge for shipping and handling. Just about everybody does it. Nothing unusual about it. The customer expects it, you can charge him, that's perfectly fine. And if the value of the merchandise is high enough, you just waive s+h, which is equally common in biz, probably worldwide.

What she found is that many people started to order online, they found the book they wanted, got into the checking out procedure, and when they hit upon the shipping fee clause, they shrinked back from that shipping charge, most orders being less than 80 DM.

Value rigidity revisited

Now this is really irrational. People spent time and effort to get that far, only to spend a lot more money and time and energy getting the book offline instead. You got to drive your car, get a parking lot, walk to the store, talk to a sales person or look for yourself, maybe even order it for later delivery, go to the cashier, etc. etc. Just horrible, this effort never pays, it's obvious and undeniably much more expensive than any s+h charge.

But people suffer value rigidity, too. You can't argue here. You can't argue on the net. Or can you? Well, the argument was very simple. The moment she found out about this false perspective of the customer, she found out about her own.

On the web, you save on wages, on rent, you have much less expenses than a regular store. Additionally, the German post features a special rate for books being just DM 1,50 for light books and DM 2,50 for heavy books, which is ridiculously little.

Value rigidity resolved

On January 19 1998, she announced delivery of every book free of charge.

This move untied the knot. Orders kept rushing in, and in fact this was a strong impetus for myself to order each and every book I knew some data of from them instead of ordering offline. A quarter of a year later she sold the whole biz to Amazon. They in turn bought a developed market with a running machine, ready to accept the American books at suggested retail prices.

Please honor our sponsors ...


   Commission your own portrait,
or that of a loved one ...

   by Tina Tacke, Gallery Clay at Art Quarter  

Amazon revisited

And it is indeed a deal for Buying American books was not impossible, but tedious before. They have to update their database, of course, but then ... This is the next strategy of Amazon, buy into local markets. Eventually they will not only be the American number one book seller but the number one world book seller. Unification of the world via sales forces. Not the first time sales people opened up new paths to bring people together.

The art market

What about our value rigidity? What are the silent assumptions we make? Art is big business. But ... The high prices from auctions and fairs are limited to small audiences. Chances are you don't know anybody who spends money on art, not to speak of somebody spending big money on art. These people are there, but there are small chances only to get into that closed circle.

This does not mean that this is it! You don't have to be in that circle to sell art. I'll tell you another story to learn from. Back in the late 70ies, there were two people here in Germany working for the furniture industry. This industry had downs and ups, and during that time they were at a down. One person was a marketer, the other a public relations person. They read about art mail order in the US, the classical country to sell and ship just about everything by mail.


They set out to do the same in Germany. Nobody had done this before. You could question if it would work in this country. And it did not. They had a hard time. But then, things improved. About ten years later, they had more than DM 30 million in returns and decided to sell. We have a very rich family named Quandt here, as far as I know they own large parts of BMW and Mercedes Benz. They bought this mail order store Artes.

When I showed up, they had made the deal, still being managers for a limited time to care for a smooth handing over. I confronted them with their lack of large formats, original paintings, high quality art from living painters. I was lucky, they took 2 large paintings in commission and printed them on a separate page each in their catalog.

Trial and error

It was a flop. Somebody ordered one painting. They shipped it to him. In the meantime somebody else ordered the same painting. He was offered the other one. He did not like it. The first was upset about the size of the painting, which was pointed out clearly in the catalog, so he should have known. The painting came back. They had not copied the number of the second prospect. And that was it.

This painting was sold, nevertheless. One of the bosses hung it in his office, and when he negotiated with a marketing person from Switzerland, his partner saw the painting all the time and finally bought it. So they figured out you got to see such a painting as an original, you can't sell it via catalog and mail order. They bought 2 paintings to show them in their house.


But times changed, exhibitions were not held, so the year after both were printed in the catalog. And one was sold from the catalog. They are still going strong, having some 60,000 addresses in their database, offering works from a few hundred DM to hundred thousand DM. The atmosphere there is extremely loose, hence I conclude they make the revenues the owners want to see with ease. This story proves that there is no rule telling you what works and what not, you got to find out yourself, and if something works today it might not work tomorrow and vice versa.

Please honor our sponsors ...


   Commission your own portrait,
or that of a loved one ...

   by Tina Tacke, Gallery Clay at Art Quarter  

Where is the market?

Customers of Artes probably don't show up at art fairs, don't visit galleries, but they spend money on art nonetheless. They don't have to prove they are up to date, on the verge, insiders to the latest fashion, they just like to see nice things and make their choice to buy what pleases their taste.

Art biz is in large part fashion, and art lovers often prefer the intimacy of the home to communicate with a piece of art to conversation in public. The customers I know love their possession, but they would not consider themselves art buyers. They don't visit galleries, and they don't visit art fairs.

Our audience

If you consider how many people are interested in art, crowd the museums, docorate their walls with taste, that's quite a large audience, and this audience longs for something only art can give them. They got to have an opportunity to see and fall in love with and buy art, and Art Quarter strives to give them this opportunity on the net, where they can view art at their own leisure totally anonymous, making up their mind at their own pace, being offered information at large no other medium possibly can at ridiculously cheap investment.

Offering art

If you think of this art lover, how could you give him what he needs? If you offer a banner, you offer text. Text is fine, but it is not art. Contemplate about the ad above. Could this be a way to offer art on your site? What about a portrait offer? I am fascinated by his idea.  If you enter a museum, you will find busts of famous persons. Why not commission a bust of yourself, your wife, your children, your parents? It is not expensive, either. People spend more money on their car's extras every day which is obsolete a few years from now. A sculpture will last for a long time. Think about it.

Who makes it on the net revisited

I believe we got to make it now. Everything is set, nobody is ahead of us, we make it better than anybody else I know of, and if we find somebody who does we will learn from him and improve even more. He who does first will make it. I got big plans to be tackled one by one. But I can't do it alone. Call me if you got plans to try out new ideas. I'm eager to help you with your endeavour.

Werner Stürenburg

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