Success Story: How One Gallery Uses Old School Strategies to Grow Online
ARTSY FOR GALLERIES
In just two years as an Artsy gallery partner, Leslie Feely Fine Art is making more than 50 sales a year on the platform. How did the gallery develop its online presence to align with its established brand and to grow its business?
About Leslie Feely Fine Art
In 1981, after an early tenure at Knoedler Gallery, Leslie Feely struck out to start her own art advisory. Specializing in post-war and contemporary art, Feely’s dynamic roster included works on paper and paintings by Helen Frankenthaler, Richard Diebenkorn, Frank Stella, Kenneth Noland, Robert Motherwell, and Jules Olitski. After 25 years as a private dealer, Feely expanded the business to include Leslie Feely Gallery, the only Frank Gehry-designed gallery in New York City. And most recently, Feely announced a new chapter in her business—Leslie Feely Fine Art Advisory—to devote more time to steadily growing the business online.
When Dakota Sica, Director of Leslie Feely, joined the gallery in 2014 he quickly moved to establish an online presence: “My challenge was trying to outfit the business to grow with current technologies” without diminishing the quality of the collector experience.
With more and more collectors browsing for art online, how can galleries cultivate meaningful, direct connections that will stand the test of time?
Steps for Success
When Leslie Feely chose to partner with Artsy, Sica fully embraced the fast-growing online art world and adapted his client relations strategy for the digital marketplace.
“Dealers have always utilized the tech of their times—whether it be color slides, CD-ROM, or digital prints,” observes Sica. “Being on Artsy is just a way to use the tools of our time and be efficient and distribute information and connect to the art market globally.” Here’s a look at some of the key strategies Sica employs to grow the gallery’s client base online:
1. Be prepared
In a recent Hiscox survey, 79% of collectors said they want more information about the artist and artwork when considering an online purchase. This comes as no surprise, since inquiring on art online often means collectors purchase works sight unseen.
In order to give collectors “a sense of the piece without having to see it in person,” Sica prepares detailed photographs of each artwork, artist biographies, and exhibition histories to upload on Artsy. Providing this information upfront means Leslie Feely receives more inquiries from informed collectors, ultimately accelerating the sales process and limiting the back and forth communication between buyer and seller.
2. Make it a habit to be available
Bringing your gallery online means collectors around the world can discover and inquire on works 24/7. To make the most of this international interest, Sica says, “it’s important for me to be available when it’s convenient for the client, regardless of time zone.”
“It’s important for me to be available when it’s convenient for the client, regardless of time zone.”
“My first action each morning is to respond to all new Artsy inquiries that came in overnight. Once I am in the office, I speak with collectors from Asia—then shortly after I touch base with European collectors—during most of the working day I am focused on New York. At the end of the business day, I speak with collectors on the West Coast. Before calling it a night I usually touch base with the clients in Asia as they are waking up for the following day.”
In addition to Artsy’s messaging system, Sica also uses FaceTime, text, and calls to connect with clients directly and maintain a personal connection, despite the distance.
3. Move fast
“Collectors do not hesitate to capitalize when they discover quality works online,” Sica says about Leslie Feely’s online sales. “At times collectors send payment less than an hour after our initial conversation. This is including artworks in the six-figure range.”
The sooner a gallery responds to an inquiry, the more likely it is to complete a sale. Remember, collectors are often sending multiple inquiries on different works, so be the first to respond. Artsy provides a personalized dashboard for each gallery to track its response rate and response
4. Nurture new relationships
Similar to walking into a gallery space or visiting a fair booth, reaching out to a gallery online can feel intimidating for new and seasoned collectors alike.
“There are very sophisticated collectors on Artsy,” he says. “Most recently I had a seven-figure sale on the platform. The client was very attuned to the market and knew exactly what he was looking for. I also meet new collectors that may be making their first significant acquisition. They want to be educated on the artist and advised on building their collections. It is very rewarding to be able to help build a collection from the first piece.”
“Developing an online presence is an organic process, which takes time to grow,” reflects Sica.
As demonstrated by Leslie Feely, experimentation is an essential part of developing the right digital strategy for your gallery. “There was a learning curve for me when considering what kind of material I could publish on Artsy. I started off with listing prints—the first work I listed on Artsy was a wonderful Alex Katz that sold to a collector in Germany. After that experience, I was intrigued. I then started listing more valuable works, and I found the interest was just as high for one-of-a-kind works.”
As Leslie Feely Gallery transitions to Leslie Feely Fine Art advisory, Sica says, “we are now going to be able to assist our clients in a more hands-on approach.” Partnering with platforms like Artsy is the perfect way for galleries looking to grow their current business for the future.