stickmanMoney is especially tight for the typical Small Business owner, and it can be tighter for artists and designers.


Since art and design can often be seen as a budgetary “extra”, the artist or designer may find it harder than ever to earn an any type of income from their talent.




But this current economy provides more time to focus on existing customers and time to explore innovative ways to improve your creative business.


Here are a few top strategies that work. They are basic, yet effective:




Your number one priority should be to stay close to those that do business with you now or have in the recent past. Research shows us two key things in this area:

  • Loyal customers buy more and are likely to buy from you again.
  • Gaining a new customer cost 5 times more than retaining a current one.

New business is always important, but increasing customer loyalty drives long-term profitability.



A natural result of staying close to your current customers should be asking them for leads. This is not something to be ashamed of, especially since you probably already believe in the power of “word of mouth” promotion. This just allows you to reap immediate results from it.



Diversify the services that you provide. A down market in one line can be offset by another. For example, auto dealers with challenged retail sales look to offsetting those challenges by the performance of their service departments. If full blown portrait work is down, you can start designing the t-shirts you wanted to explore. You should explore new products or services that can bring immediate profitability as a part of your long term strategy.



Notice that I said “invest” rather than “spend”. Marketing and advertising, when done wisely, brings a return like any other investment that is properly used. Advertising is usually the first casualty of reducing your budget, but it is actually your lifeline to connecting with customers. Don’t cut your advertising, but now do it more effectively:

  • E-mailed and printable PDF flyers cost less to create and send than printed direct mail pieces, and are just as effective.
  • Use the web now more than ever. Launch a website or tweak your current one.
  • Opt-in mobile texting coupons are the latest inexpensive method to reach customers that want your advertising. The response rate on this method is extremely higher than direct mail and print.



Keeping in mind that the current challenges within the economy are cyclical and better times will eventually come around. The key is to use this as an opportunity to strengthen your current customer base, explore innovative business practices and retain good employees so that your art business can actually come out the other side of this better than it was going in.