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Bill Gates – Art Marketing

What Bill Gates taught Me About Art Marketing

A gruff older salesman once told me…”the key to success in selling…is not selling what you want to sell. It is selling what people want to buy.”

But he left out one key… that Bill Gates answered…years later.

We sat on that salesman’s porch overlooking the Catalina mountains, with the two Mercedes – his and hers – neatly parked inside his heated and cooled garage with the sealed floors…sipping some brews…and continued to solve the problems of the world.

That was many years before Bill Gates made his mark on the computer world. And this was many years before I fully understood that this old guy had summed up in two sentences… selling psychology 101, 102, advanced marketing and to my way of thinking… the way of the world.

And this was long before I decided to turn my hobby – watercolor painting – into a career.

Years later an artist friend of mine was seething at the success of DeGrazia and I remembered that old man.

To be specific…she just could not understand how Degrazia with his childlike way of painting had ever become a household name. Little did she know… it was Degrazia’s brother who handled the marketing.

At the time…I was busy learning the ways of the PC and sitting up all night attempting to make all my peripherals work with my 20 Meg PC. The early days. All of that fumbling around with the computer just so I could put up an art selling sight on the web.

That’s when Bill Gates blasted his way into my world… with Windows 3.0 Maybe you remember Windows 3.0 and maybe you do not. In brief…

Suddenly everything with the PC became easy…no more running DMA checks to resolve peripheral conflicts and no more sitting up all night to just to get the PC to become a useful tool.

What has this got to do with selling art? Everything.

You might want to write this down or say it out loud… just so the meaning gets into your bones. And selling art will become easy in any environment. Here goes.

Bill Gates trampled his competition not because his operating system was so good

…it wasn’t. He bypassed the middle people and arranged to have his operating system put on the PC…at the factories that manufactured the PC’s.

So when you bought a PC…it was fully functional…with a Bill Gates operating system already installed… at the factory.

In the art world of today… who are the ‘factories?’ Not the magazine editors, museum curators et. al. In today’s marketing environment these people unfortunately are… after the fact.

In today’s marketplace the ‘factories’ are social organizations

attempting to respond to a world that seems bent on leaving everyone but a chosen few… behind.

These organizations have clout. These organizations have reach. These organizations have resources. These organizations are pro-active. Some of these organizations are world-wide in scope. And these organizations are committed.

But… they don’t have you.

And what can you bring to the table?

Well… think about it.

Can you imagine becoming the ‘artist of first call’

for any one of these social organizations?

These organizations have fund raisers. They sell note cards (the U.N., Muscular Dystrophy, SpinaBifida, hospitals etc.). These organizations sell posters. These organizations sell art.

I know because I contacted one of these organizations…pitched them on the idea of doing a series of custom paintings that brand their message …and they welcomed me with open arms. No one had approached them in this way… with their interests as first priority.

What do they gain…art work that is tailored to their message.

What do I gain…I become the ‘artist of first call.’

When they want to roll out a newsletter or a fundraiser or a social function…who will they contact for art work uniquely tailored to their event? Me. Now you are getting the picture. Because I cannot possibly respond to all the social organizations that are out there. There is plenty of room for you.

Then I become a household name… which makes it exceedingly easy to sell art because this organization will give me ‘name value.’

And when they do their own mailers to their mailing list… my art work will ‘tag’ along. No expense to me.

Now… the picture is coming in bright and clear… isn’t it?

In a round about way this is what Tom Lynch did in becoming known as the ‘painter of Chicago’ or Thomas Kinkade did in becoming known as the ‘painter of Light.’

It is a way of entering the art marketplace through the sub-basement and end up living in the penthouse suite. All because you took the time to sell people what they want to buy.

And that is what Bill Gates taught me about art marketing.

Best regards,
Mars Burnell