Buying and investing in fine art used to be a pastime of only the most elite. But not anymore.
Tappan is an online gallery that sells collections from emerging artists to modern buyers in a way that’s far more accessible and less pretentious.
However, convincing ecommerce consumers to spend hundreds of dollars on a painting or portrait isn’t necessarily the same as persuading them to buy a pair of jeans. Longer buying cycles and high price points for luxury goods mean that marketers like Tappan Director of Brand Marketing Megan Laber have to strategize around storytelling, brand, and customer experience.
In this episode of The Empowered Marketer, we’re talking to Megan about:
- Working with artists and customers to create education around art buying and investing
- Why investing in brand longevity requires priority over quick-click metrics
- Curating an online customer experience that meets the standards of luxury buyers
Listen to the Full Episode
Top Episode Takeaways
Cara Hogan: Do you have to educate your buyers in terms of telling them it’s possible to buy art online if that’s something they maybe hadn’t considered before?
Megan Laber: Absolutely. I think the messaging and the storytelling is one of my favorite parts of this job, but it’s also the most necessary part to getting people to purchase art online. It’s a pretty expensive item. So I think we are doing more storytelling around the artists — who they are, and what inspires them. We also talk about how do you purchase online? How do you collect? How do you start? We do collector profiles on the site that features people that have purchased Tappan artwork before and also gives a full, broad view of their collection in total.
We’re now in discussions with somebody who said, “I really don’t have a lot of art, so I don’t know if I’m a perfect person for your collector profile.” And I ended up saying “No, that’s actually the ideal Tappan customer.” I’d love to still tell that story because I think there is that phase where you’re also in the beginning and you’re also trying to learn more about what it means to actually invest in art and invest in the careers of emerging artists. We definitely work really hard to kind of tell that story and help people get there.
Cara: Do you feel like being in the luxury DTC space is its own unique challenge? And how do you cope with competition from more traditional art vendors?
Megan Laber: The DTC market in the luxury space is challenging because when you go over $100 in cost for an item, you’re limiting yourself to a really small pool — and there’s a lot of people selling goods in this luxury space online to this small pool. So how do you make a dent? How do you make an impact? How do you catch someone’s eye? Especially with how quick and fast people are consuming, whether that’d be ads or content all the time. So I would say that the smaller pool is a challenge.
There’s also the old guard, luxury way of selling things that is super hands-on and full service, while online has its different advantages where you don’t have to really interact with a ton of people to make your decision. You’re more autonomous and you’re going into the digital store and navigating it on your own. Hopefully it has great user experience and you can see everything that you want, but it’s not that same hands-on feel. Where that comes into play now is how it’s delivered, how it’s shipped to you, and the correspondence that you have with your customer care team.
You have to kind of build that into a luxury market like this so people still feel really taken care of. And they deserve that, especially when they’re paying the prices that they’re paying for the artwork that they’re getting.
Cara: What do you think is the key to creating that personalized feel and really great customer experience online?
Megan: It’s totally different than walking into a gallery and having an assistant walk you through a collection, tell you the story about the artists, and make sure that you feel comfortable when you’re asking about prices. But we really think about the user experience in making sure that they understand where they are once they get to Tappan. We make sure that they’re not intimidated and that there are price points for everybody within the art buying market. Just making sure that the messaging is really friendly and clear and that the storytelling is there right on every single product page — that makes a huge difference, especially in the online space.
Other than that, I think it’s like really making sure that our audience knows that they can interact with us on different platforms. Our email team is fantastic and the content that you’re getting there is not very market-y — it’s more about telling the story of the artist, telling the influence of the artists, really getting into their studio, and learning more about them. Even if you’re not going to purchase from us or you’re not at a place where you’re ready to start collecting, we still want to make sure that you feel welcome and that you’re still learning about our artists and art buying in general. That way, when you’re ready to buy and start collecting, you feel less intimidated. I think that’s a huge part of Tappan’s ethos.