Part 2 – Buying Art: Can We Return to the Good Old Days?

by smARTist Speaker, Jack White

Check out my next two, short stories and start reinventing how you sell art today.

Story 1 – Stone Cold Creamery Sells Excitement. Ice Cream is the cherry on top!

I recently read a small book by Seth Godin, All Marketers Are Liar. Seth tells a great story of Stone Cold Creamery. The company started in Phoenix and now is in forty-six states. Stone Cold charges seven to ten times more than you would pay for Blue Bell ice cream at your local 7-11.

The buying experience makes people drive twenty miles to eat a scoop of their ice cream when they can get a better product around the corner?  Stone Cold doesn’t sell ice cream. Stone Cold sells an exciting experience. They hire bright young people who can also sing. When a young “scoopers” starts pounding your order on a marble slab another one breaks out in a song. Suddenly others join in. Their seemingly spontaneous singing makes you feel all fuzzy inside. What you don’t realize is the singing is planned. Stone Cold Creamery makes eating ice cream an exciting and memorable experience.

Story 2 – The Tall Ship Experience

A few years ago we went on a Caribbean Cruise. We went on the world’s largest sailing ship. Mikki, my partner, climbed the 100-feet tall crow’s nest. I got to steer the ship through a few miles of open water.

We paid double a Carnival Cruise’s rate.  The big box ships don’t offer the same exciting experience of interacting with the Capitan and sailing into hidden pristine beaches. Mikki and I have been on 20 cruises and this one was by far our most exhilarating.

Remember people are willing to sacrifice to have a memorable experience. We can do the same selling art.

We have stopped making buying art a Caribbean Cruise, Tall Ship experience. We are pushing price and discounts. We are not selling excitement but trying to convince people to buy art. Sell the experience, and I promise, they will haul art away in truckloads.

Unless we get back to selling excitement and experiences the art market we once knew will never return. Galleries will continue to close and artists will be getting day jobs. We either adjust to the dramatic changes or get swept away by the undercurrent.


This larger-than-life Texan artist, Jack White, is an art marketing legend, with the brassy wisdom to show for it, and I couldn’t be happier that he is speaking at the smARTist Telesummit 2012 on, Making and Keeping Collectors for a Lifetime.

When you register for this year’s conference (it’s our 6th annual!), you won’t miss Jack White, or any of the 13 sessions.

First step: Click here to sign up for the “Interest List,” where you get free art-career resources, and a link to all the conference details, including registration.


2 Responses to “Part 2 – Buying Art: Can We Return to the Good Old Days?”

  1. Maria Brophy says:

    Great points made, Jack. The story of Cold Stone Creamery is an excellent example of giving someone an experience rather than a product.

    I’ve always said that a collector has to love the artist to love the art. And part of falling in love with the artist is the experience!

  2. Or, the old advertising adage: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak!”

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