One of my clients has an incredibly amazing business, so I wanted to share her story with you!
Anne Strickland and her son own and run an exquisite art company — Great American Art.
But, this isn’t some big-box manufacturer (like the art you see at Target or Z Gallery).
Anne and her team specialize in consulting clients to find the best art to:
- Reinforce the company’s brand
- Create healing environments
- And make the business’s space look amazing!
Here’s an example:
A senior care home wants to create a relaxing, soothing experience for its residents, so:
Great American Art designs, provides, and hangs wall art that gives residents a beautiful space.
If the senior care home is located in, say, the southwest, the art will mirror the red rock landscape of that area. A senior care home in Florida will receive art that shows seascapes and palm trees —
Giving residents a way to feel like they’re still connected to the outside world, especially soothing nature!
A school’s math department wants to keep kids excited about learning about math.
Great American Art provides art full of geometric spaces and figures, which inspires kids to stay interested in numbers and solving problems.
Great American Art is SUCH a cool company.
Artists can submit their paintings and photography to Great American Art online to be considered for projects…in other words:
They provide jobs to artists!
Now for Anne’s story
Anne was an employee of Great American Art, that is, until there was a blowout fight amongst the then owners. Anne was asked to step up and become the General Manager (what the heck??).
She knew nothing about running an entire company.
But she did indeed step up and quickly became head honcho and organized the entire business with the following:
- She mapped out every single staff member’s position on an actual board
- Hired vital staff
- Which included hiring sales reps to go after and close new accounts
Over time, Anne and her husband (who had been working at the company as a framer for many years) bought out the one original founder who had remained.
And in 2000 —
Anne and her husband purchased the entire company and were officially owners!! I so admire how she loved the business so much that she took this on!!
Time to make money, right?!
You said it — except:
Great American Art was heavily in debt, and they were a very small company at the time.
Anne had aspirations to add more real fine art to their galley. She wanted expansion! Yet obviously…
She needed to make SALES. And to whom?
Well, Anne researched and found out there was this whole untapped network of upscale office furniture dealers she could contract with because:
The people buying high-end office furniture had no idea what to do with their walls.
Gorgeous furniture — blank walls = no good!
So Anne created a to-do list that did the following:
- Listed every high-end office furniture dealer in the U.S.
- Set up a marketing program to reach them
- Increased her manufacturing personnel and facilities
- And hired sales reps to go after this new market.
Not only that…
Anne and her team personally traveled all over the country to find out what was needed and wanted from these companies whose clients had gorgeous brand new furniture but blank (or badly dressed) walls.
This action of hitting the road and finding new accounts WORKED.
She took this same level of tenacity and discovered that government buildings typically have wall art that kind of stinks!
So, she contracted to provide art for 70% of the government’s buildings… amazing, right?
But remember in 2013 there was a government shutdown?
She lost a tremendous amount of business in basically ONE day, and needed another market ASAP.
Anne discovered that healthcare would be a perfect place to bring aesthetics to (again, another area that needs beauty but is fraught with stress!).
But this meant she needed to start from scratch with her marketing because she was entering a completely new territory.
I had just finished a session talking about how direct mail, targeted mailing lists, and design can grow businesses when done consistently.
Anne pulled me aside and told me she believed direct mail would work for Great American Art, but —
She couldn’t get her VP of Marketing to get on board with postcard marketing.
Right then and there, I helped Anne create an actionable step-by-step program that she could bring home to her VP of Marketing to implement. (I love how she didn’t want to just walk all over him but instead wanted to bring him to understanding!!)
Here was the plan:
- 5,000 postcards every week
- For 8 weeks straight (no matter what!)
- Totaling 40,000 postcards
Her sales skyrocketed.
Here is her yearly sales graph that she was nice enough to share with me:
Those 2 spikes on the graph are the 2 years Anne mailed postcards every single week.
Today, Great American Art has established itself as a leader in the marketplace for commercial art that transforms spaces… but it wouldn’t have been that way if she didn’t market and go after new accounts!
I hope this story inspired you — have something similar?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!