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Southern Decorator and New Orleans Star in Latique Magazine in April.

In 1 on April 20, 2010 at 5:33 am

As Latique.com grows, I’ll print the news here. This one – in the form of a press release about the April issue of Latique Magazine – demonstrates how content can be used to drive traffic to a site.

DALLAS. The April issue of LatiqueMagazine, the ezine component of Latique.com, reads like a style guide to the south.  Willson Powell, a transplanted New York decorators now living in South Carolina is the designer of the month. New Orleans is the featured city of the month.

Latique Co-Founder, Julie Garrett VanDolen

Mr. Powell is the second interior designer to be featured in Latique Magazine. Coming issues promise such star designers as Tobi Fairley, one of Traditional Home’s 20 Young Designers, and Sandra Espinet, both a world-class decorator and world-class shopper.

Willson Powell, who spent nearly three decades in New York City transforming townhouses, lofts and classic apartments into havens of taste and comfort, was a member of the Robert Litwiller team that worked on the much publicized David Bowie hideaway in Mustique. In his description of what makes this house, or any house, a home, Mr. Powell says it’s all about comfort.

To define the comfort zone of a home, Mr. Powell often multi-purposes dining rooms as libraries and crafts areas. He takes the family room to new heights by repurposing traditional items such as Sheraton and Hepplewhite sideboards. While some Latique.com visitors may have no idea where to source a Sheraton sideboard, http://Latique.com offers several for sale on its site from dealers across the country.

Meanwhile, cultural travelers will find the New Orleans story a practical guide to the City. Although much has been written on the Crescent City’s many sights and amenities, few have touched on the famous makers that produced the richly decorated chairs that once defined a home of good taste.

A trip to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the annual rite of passage that is arguably the granddaddy of such events as SXSW, will interest all who love live music. The event, which spans a fortnight at the end of April and into the first weekend of May, showcases hundreds of bands.

Combining interior design of the South with the musical heritage of the South’s most famous city is one way to engage the community that Latique reaches. Another is to show how buying antiques can pay off as Julie Garrett VanDolen does in the Latique Founder’s Letter.

What to buy now – while it is undervalued – is covered in “The Affordable IT Item.” This is where http:// Latique.com writers post the “rules” of buying antiques and uncover the best buys of the moment.

In April, Latiquers should look for vintage and antique garden furniture, outdoor water features and well-cast planers.

For complete details, please visit http://www.latique.com.

Follow Latique on Facebook.

Follow PR To the Trade on Facebook.

About http://Latique.com:
Latique.com, based in Dallas, is a source for traditional antiques and classic home decor. Co-founders are Julie Garrett VanDolen, Justin Garrett and Jeff Garrett.

Media Contact: Julie Garrett VanDolen, (800) 891-9409

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Marketing Advice for Painters, Photographers, Artisans on Arts Advocacy Day.

In 1 on April 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Today is Arts Advocacy Day. It’s a time for all Americans to pause and consider how important the fine arts and presentations arts are to us.  There’s a hearing in Washington that may impact the funding the arts receive this year. You can follow the proceedings of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee at  http://bit.ly/ya5fT.

You can take part in Arts Advocacy Day by visiting Members of Congress to support the arts. Do it in 2 minutes at the Arts Action Center.

Here’s my small offering to the working creatives who are the heart and soul of American arts…

Hello Painters, Sculptors, Photographers, Collage Artists, Fine Craftspeople. Lately I have been getting a lot of phone calls from emerging artists asking how they can promote themselves. In response, I’m going to answer a few of the inquiries.

In general, PRT3 doesn’t take on individual artists as clients, although there is nothing we would like better. The reason is that your time and money are better spent in creating than in paying us to write your press releases and drive traffic to you website.   That said, there are a few tips I will gladly give you and hope that they will help you with your self promotion efforts.

Traditionally, artists draw the line at salesmanship. Recently, a very famous artist told me that to be successful, he had to be:

1 part Michelangelo. 1 part Mick Jagger. 1 part Billy Mays.

In other words, 1 part artist, 1 part showman, 1 part self-promoter.

It’s difficult to be all three, particularly if your best reason for using your creative talents is to get into that zone where the outside world doesn’t exist. Where it’s just you and the medium.   It can be done, however, with relatively little effort.

  • Thanks to the Internet you now have your own forum. Start with your website, as most of you have. Be sure as you build it to balance the graphics and images of your work with some really content.

The reason being that the SERPS crawl the content and not the images. If you want to come up at top of the search, put a good, big headline on the home page. Let people know who you are-instantly.

The long interfaces with lots of flash and fancy graphics are nice, but generally interest killers. Make that home page your slave. Make it work for you. Use it to identify yourself, your artistic approach. Load it with keywords.

And be sure to put a headline on each of the following pages. Write them in 60 characters and you can use them as metatags for the SERPS.

  • Drive traffic to the site. You can do this with a blog, Tweets, inbound links from bloggers, press releases and articles you post on the web.

When you take a few minutes to write about your work and post it in an article on the web, you’ll pick up traffic. Same for press releases on the free and paid PR posting sites.

Benefit: Journalists scan these sites for info. You might just get picked up in a writer’s search and, voila, free publicity.  Caveat: Building a presence on the web takes time. If you can do it yourself, cool. If not, ask your wife or husband, friend or neighborhood techie to help you.

  • Check out ART|Trope and see if you qualify for a micro-site. ART|Trope.

ART|Trope is a vetted on-line artist’s community. You will have to go through a screening process but it’s worth the effort. Your work will be seen by mover and shakers in your field of creativity. And that never hurts.

When you are a part of ART|Trope, you’re in a relationship-building arena that connects you to influential people like dealers scouting new talent, buyers looking for something special.  Plus, ART|Trop has live exhibitions in different cities from time to time.

  • New York City has an Arts Council that offers artists low-cost seminars on how to build a brand, create marketing materials, make contacts. There is probably an Arts Council in your town. Check it out.
  • Learn how to write a 500 word press release. It’s pretty standard suff, something you can do yourself. For best results, follow the rules.

If you already have a gallery, make sure your dealer is spending enough time promoting you. There are self-checks for this. Red Grooms said when he started out, his dealer gave him a show every two years. Any less than that, and you’re off the map.  These days, I’d shoot for an annual show, provided you can create enough quality work to make it.

I hope these words point you in the right direction. If you still feel adrift, please feel free to call me at PRT3.  I’ll share what knowledge I have on this subject.

In the meantime, keep creating.

Staff Update.

In 1 on April 12, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Just had a heads-up from a colleague saying the date of a blog I wrote last September and then updated when  Anna Karlsson came on board, hadn’t been changed. Be that as it may, we’re delighted to have Anna working with us.

What Young Collectors & Social Media Can Show Antique Dealers.

In 1 on March 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm

50 may be the new 40 and 40 the new 30 – but there’s no changing the mindset that goes with chronological age. At least that’s the latest from the research labs that specialize in psychographics and other behavorial factors.

Seems that folks who were born in the beginning of the 20th Century were very linear thinkers, comfortable in large corporations with 100 Vice Presidents.  The Boomers have a different mindset. They’re the most entitled, the most imporatnt – legends in their own minds. And the boomer’s kids -that’s the Internet generation. They’re different from the core. Born of the information age, they can handle more brain food. Internet gen seems to be more creative (possibly because of the increased data), more adaptable and more informed.  Simply, they’re open to the many channels of communication at once.

That’s why they’re so eager to connect. New school social networking is not so different from old school networking. Social networks are the new Woodstock.

So many social networks

Social media can inform your growth plan. Image courtesy Rapp.

If you find them overwhelming, it’s probably because they blur the boundaries of the marketing channels. But they can deliver the information you need to grow.

Social media are a bit of everything…

  • Marketing
  • Public Relations
  • Customer Service.

In more complex companies, C-level executives include Operations and Infrastructure within the blurred picture of Social Media.  Be that as it may, this can be confusing if you’re trying to manage your own marketing program.

Other than working with a specialist who can meld the components of your media plan, your print, your newsletters, your You Tube so they they truly reflect your brand, the best thing to do is watch the results you are getting from you Social Media.

Social Media can inform you marketing decisions and,

in turn, inform the products you buy and sell.

If you’re on Facebook, take a look at your fans’ sites. You’ll gain valuable mareketing information . If your Tweets are being followed, find out whose followng you.   If you’re on the new product based site with the social component, Latique.com, you will soon have information on new buyers that you can use.

Latique.com offers sellers a social component.

Is it easy? Yes, but time consuming. (One reason you’re a dealer and we’re a marketing org – because we have the mindset to wade through these scenarios as well as the metrics and KPIs.) Still, when you don’t have walk-ins, what else are you doing?

Young collectors – let’s call them buyers, young marrieds or new home-owners – have lots of balls to juggle. The internet is where they gather to share  experiences, get peer advice and approval, connect.

Let me urge you to make more use of the Social Media than you’re doing now. You’ll be more informed than you thought possible.

What a Harvard Business Review White Paper Means to Antique Sellers.

In 1 on March 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Harvard Business Review’s white paper “Rethinking Marketing,” which I received a day or two ago, makes it very clear that cultivating relationships is more important than building brands.

Interestingly, successful antique selling has always been about cultivating relationships.  The difference is that today, the in-store pipeline, with its index card or XLS database and follow-up phone calls, has moved out of the store and onto the social networks.

Now before you groan, take a look at the number one benefit of breaking through the four walls and going beyond your website to cultivate customers: DATA.

When you properly use Web 2.0 tools to engage prospects and build a community, you can continually add data.  With enough data – which is one of the things the Internet delivers better than any other media – you could predict what your customers will buy next.

If you think I’m over-the-top on  this issue, take a look at the credit card companies and that have  built empires on anticipating customers needs and honing their offerings at the individual level.

American Express, for instance, monitors customers behavior and offers products tailored to spending habits, desires, vacation profile and so much more.

Tesco, the UK retailer, tailors merchandise to local tastes. (Not unlike the intuitive approach of regional dealers but done on a national scale.)

Insurance and financial services companies are adept at tailoring products to customers’ life events.

These companies couldn’t achieve these goals without data.

Granted, they have had product managers modeling and re-modeling data for years now. And, clearly, you are not a statistician, so won’t be doing any modeling –  but now you do have the resources to collect data you can read. And this will lead to a new level of client cultivation.

Your website traffic reports are specialized, only tracking the effectiveness of your site .  You  know from your own sales what people in different regions are buying. But you can only go back to your own customers so many times, right?

You’ll  cultivate a new group of buyers, and repeat buyers, when you reach out with the tools available on Web 2.0.  Yes, part of this is a strataegic marketing  plan. As I’ve said in the past and reiterate here:  You Sell Antiques. We Sell You.

But there’s more.

Beyond this, I advise looking into one of the new sites for antique dealers that go beyond the traditional static sales sites.  The static sites are siimply not going to give you enough data because they are not set up to. Plus, they’re now so overcrowded with competing dealers that you’re lucky to be seen at all.

Try out the new concept in social sales sites. I’m talking about a place that gives you space to post your goods, label them descriptively, and receive and reply to comments from browsers.  The site I have in mind is Latique.com.

If the Latique.com folks are spot-on, they’ll drive enough traffic so that you can get the ball rolling on a new group of interested buyers. With this data, you can then expand your customer cultivation efforts.

Web 2.0 cultivation works much as in-store customer cultivation did before the Internet. Difference now is that you need to spend about an hour a day working the web. (With walk-in traffic as down as I’ve heard it to be, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find the time.)

Get in there and post some comments. You have the opportunity on every of your antque’s postngs to add info as it comes to you, without changing your descriptions.

Comments from you make you more accessible. They encourage the community to talk back to you. Just like you’ve been in your shop and at shows.

Eventually, as the site grows organically and you post more goods and comments, you’ll find that you’re collecting data.  Maybe someday soon, you’ll have enough to rethink the way you purchase inventory to better  meet consumer demands.

Embrace the new way of doing something you’ve been doing all along – cultivating customer relationships – and you will uncover one of the Internet’s most profound benefits: Data. Make that, DATA YOU CAN USE.

Giacometti Sale Underscores Why There’s A War Between Dealers and Auction Houses.

In 1 on February 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm

While working on the re-invention of the wheel recently,  I was confronted with some passionate comments from dealers about auction houses.

Seems there’s more than a bit of bad blood between struggling antiques and art dealers and high-flying auction houses.The dealers’ loudest complaint is that auctioneers have  stolen an audience segment that used to shop at dealers’ shops.

One well known dealer even complained that she has to shop at dumpy puces des marches in France to get decent stock. Auctions that she used to frequent are now out of sight.

The crux of the matter is that auctioneers have the advantage.  They have trained large audiences to turn to them for great deals by hugely undervaluing catalog estimates. The pool of wannabee buyers then thinks they have a real chance to snag a fine piece of art. So they make their plans; stay up all night the night before thinking about how they’re going to score big for less and then….they get aced out of the best deal of a lifetime when a bidding war ensues.

In actuality, the big money that always  had its eye on the work of art and the ear of the specialist makes off with booty.

“L’Homme Qui Marche I,” the Alberto Giacometti that went off at Sotheby’s London yesterday for  $104.3 million (including buyers premium) is the perfect example.  Sotheby’s had “expected” the piece to bring between $19.2 million and $28.8 million.  Or so they said.

The ploy of under estimating auction items more than 50% below their fair market value is the oldest in the book.  How else do you get 10 wealthy men in a pissing war over a gorgeous figurative bit of metal?

The reverse of this tactic at the retail level is to tag items at 5 times their work and then knock the price down in a gigantic sale, “because I’ve got to have work done on my Escalade.”

When retailers do this, we call it unethical.

When auction houses undervalue catalog estimates, we say that’s good business.

The war between dealers and auction houses hinges on the ability of the auction houses to draw large crowds because of low catalog estimates on every and anything from a piece of furniture to a fine sculpture.

The Question then becomes: How do the Dealers Fight Back?

At the risk of flogging the same horse as always:  use the same marketing channels that the put auctioneers on the map.

The auction galleries didn’t just evolve into the venues of choice. They worked at it. Got their names out. Took away the intimidation factor and came down to the consumers level. (Example: Christie’s monthly home sale. Priced to sell. Few, if any, reserves.)

You can beat the auction houses at their own game.

One of the best ways is to cultivate the middle of the market again.

The middle of the market is alive and well. But it’s not shopping for antiques. It’s buying $12 drinks on Ludlow Street, Prada bags, Jimmy Choos, Purple Label suits…in short its having fun and, frankly, dealers are not making antiques fun.

For the most part, dealers are still making antiques prissy and aiming arrows at an audience of socialites.  Who wants to be prissy these days? And the great middle class is much bigger than the shrinking pool of gala-benefit event socialites.

It’s time to climb down off the horse and ramp up a marketing campaign that talks to the people with money. Yes, I’m saying new buyers, again.

When you get real about a  marketing campaign, you’ll see that there is an entire range of   marketing channels open to you that span streetlight banners to internet banners.  You will have pull out the stops…

  1. Use article marketing.
  2. Press releases.
  3. Give yourself a decent budget for media and ads. (And get a professional to draw up a media plan based on that budget.)
  4. Understand and learn how to use the Internet for social marketing.
  5. Employ a social sales site, something like Latique.com – coming soon – so that you can use Web2 tools systematically.

Understand and use the web to grow your audience – comments, postings on high traffic sites, banners and towers on appropriate sites – all this is part of sustained marketing plan.

If you want to fight back, do what the auction houses did. Mine the universe of potential buyers instead of relying on yesterday’s tactics.

Think I’m tough on you? Then give me a call or make a Comment. Let’s get this dialog started before it’s too late.

Let’s stop doing business the old way and invent the future. It’s graspable, but it takes some effort beyond buying product.

How “Comments” Can Grow Your Antiques Business

In 1 on February 3, 2010 at 3:23 pm

You’ll see them on every blog and social marketing site – a box for Comments.

This simple little tool can be your turnkey to building a community. Comments are  easy to use, quick, and extremely effective.

A Typical Comment Box

So why do dealers chant,  “O I don’t want to be bothered leaving comments. It’s too much work.”?

Let me answer with a question.  How do you think you’re going to get noticed if you don’t comment?

(From here,  I can hear you saying: SEO, Shows, Update my website regularly. These are all factors, but they do not have the IMMEDIACY of Comments.)

Comments are what people are talking about today. They’re Opinions. Everyone has one. So…harness the power of Comments to draw attention to your site, ideas, product.

Harness Ideas and Opinions

Used frequently and with a certain amount of savvy, Comments can help you find new collectors.

  1. Comments can make you stand out on the crowded Internet.
  2. They can draw traffic to your website.
  3. They can grow the community of prospects who look to you for expert advice and excellent product.

Today I’m going to give you a few basics about Comments and hope you’ll use them.

Then you can Comment on my blog. Post your comments on other blogs. Post comments on your FB page, Twitter, and all the social media until-suddenly-you discover that you’re talking with a variety of people on the same topic.

When that happens, you’re a celebrity in your circle. You have built a following by creating a web personality.

  • A strong web personality – and it can be expert, contrarian, educator, promoter – is a key factor in working the internet to your benefit.

Handled properly, comments start the dialog that engages a community.

  • Community building is the means to growing your business in the Web2 world.

If you have a place for comments on your website, fantastic. You’re now in the position to receive and moderate comments.

In case you don’t know – Moderating comments is what you do when you receive an email that says, “You have a comment. Approve it. Delete it.”  To post it on your site, you need only press Approve.

If you don’t have a place for Comments on your website, follow this path:

  1. Find a blog you like  to read (mine, perhaps) and let the writer know what you think. When the blogger responds, you’re in the conversation.
  2. Stir the pot. Like a good after-dinner conversational disagreement, you’ll raise pulse rates when you pepper you comments with controversy.
  3. Answer the Comments you generate. Don’t walk away from the conversation keep it goings.
  4. Don’t delete negative Comments. Dealers ask me about this all the time. They say, “suppose someone has something negative to say.” Rule of thumb: Do not delete the negative comments. Since you’re moderating, you can pick and choose which Comments to post. If they are all kind and generous, your community isn’t going to believe you. The good news is that most of your Comments will be positive, so there’s little to worry about.
  5. Be evangelical. If you’re not getting the volume of Comments you want, hire an Evangelist. Hire two Evangelists. These are people who populate your site with link bait and comments that draw in other commenters.  Rule of thumb: Slow steam ahead. Use these evangelists just to get the ball rolling. Don’t think for a moment they can sustain you.
  6. Compliment your community. Once you have engaged a community, talk to them as if you have met everyone. Keep them apprised of their role in your business. For instance, if a thread of comments resulted in the sale of fine item, let your community know. They’ll feel good about being a part of something positive and they will be inspired to Comment even more. Not to mention the fact that they are likely to be buyers too.

With Comments, you can get the conversation rolling in your direction!

Click on this button BELOW to be heard.

Why not hit the Comment buton below and let me know how you feel about Comments, the social marketing web and how you’re using them to grow your business?

Test the power of Comments – click on the button below.


Every Collector Add a Collector: An Idea That Needs Legs.

In 1 on January 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm

On the matter of blogs, I have been wondering how some people manage to post everyday. When  I mentioned one blogger in particular to a PR To the Trade (PRT3) team member, she replied, “He’s a dealer therefore he has plenty of down time.”

While cryptic, there’s a lot of truth in the statement. Dealers, as we all know, are only marginally better off now than at this time last year. Granted, there is plenty of renewed optimism, as several exhibitors at Antiques at the Armory and the Ceramics Fair told me over the weekend.

Renewed Optimism is just another word for hope.

The recent spate of shows and sales have a few go-getters feeling better. But the hand-sitters that were also prevalent at those shows didn’t share the dream.

One thing I have to say for dealers is that they are remarkable people with enormous talent and energy. For instance, it takes not only knowledge of the product to source a good buy but also knowledge of where to source.  (Guess that’s one reason most auction houses count 1/3 of their audience as dealers.)  Then there’s the salesmanship element, the stamina that’s needed to do shows, the follow up … and you’re looking at some really remarkable people. Still, there’s plenty of room for expanding those talents – or perhaps, recognizing limitations.

Dealers are not marketers in the larger sense of the word.   For instance, I heard again last night that Americana dealer  Dave Krashes is pushing a grass roots effort called

Every Collector Add a Collector.

Krashes urges antique dealers to band together behind a comprehensive marketing plan…to reach “Gen X-ers and Mellinials.” Nice idea.

  • Member-get-member programs are as old as the hills and successful when they are structured and properly handled by professionals.

I had a brief conversation with Krashes a few months ago about this program and he said, “We’ll never know how it works because we’ll be long gone. The results will be in the hands of the next generation.”

As a former direct marketer who cut her eye teeth in the circulation departments of Newsweek, Time and on Madison Avenue – I gasped.

Is this guy dreaming? He hasn’t so much as answered the basic question that collectors will ask. “What’s in it for me?”  He hasn’t proffered a strategic plan.  Krashes’  pal, John Fiske, the English antiques dealer and Editor of New England Antiques Journal,   says word of mouth should do the trick. Fiske easily reels off  several examples of growth where word of mouth (WOM) worked.

As much as I like Fiske, he comes from a generation when snail mail worked for direct marketers and people called their bankers by their first names. I call that “old school social networking.”

These days WOM is an internet based technique that mines community building.

PR is a buyer driven now.

How to build a community - now. Get the buyers talking on the internet and you have the model for a Collector Get Collector program with legs.

Unless Krashes and Fiske are actually ready to take to Web 2 in a strategic fashion with objectives, goals and analytics, this WOM ain’t gonna work.

When Krashes talks about Gen X and Mellinials as  monoliths of like mindedness,  he might as well be talking about the Attack of the Aliens.  When the old guard stops talking at the young turks and starts talking to them, then we might see some advances.

One more thing.  Dave suggests antique dealers band together  as quickly as possible in a trade association that is “one dimensional.” (Excuse me, what exactly does that mean?).  If Krashes means that dealers should band together  to promote Every Collector Add a Collector, then he must be prepared to find a  good promotion organization with experience in membership programs and the antiques/arts world.

Could Every Collector Add a Collector actually work? Yes. But only if it becomes less of a grass roots organization and more of a structured program with benefits to dealers and clients.





New York Antiques Week and Your Business

In 1 on January 18, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Once again, the intense monitoring of my growing business has kept me off the blog post. In the in between minutes though, I have  sort through a lot of information, PR bites and new technology. t

Overall, there’s nothing better than getting buyers into the store. When that can’t happen, well heeled dealers head for the Shows. What with trade paper coverage of Shows covering the good news, it is sometimes hard to see through the haze.  Dealers who do well, are complimentary. Dealers who don’t, often never see their comments in print.  The best barometer for how a show is doing is visiting it…talking to the Fair producers…hearing the bravos…weathering the whiners…and taking home hard-to-get info.

I’m optimistic now and looking forward to great things from New York Antiques Week.

One of the sterling events is bound to be Leigh Keno’s May Auction Preview on Saturday, at the Regency.

Another fun time will be the NY Ceramics Fair, which plays in a small venue to a specialized group.

Then there The Winter Antiques Show Gala Preview.

The beat goes on, as dealers do their thing.

But what happens to the dealers who don’t do shows?

Are you being upstaged by the glitter and gloss?  Or is it helping you?

Validation comes in terms of sales.

We’ll wait a few days to see what the real world findings are and I will report back.

In the meantime, you should ways to sight (or, site) new clients.  Strong sales made by traditional marketing tactics are good. They can also be deceptive, coercing you into a cocoon and blinding you from the realities of the larger marketing pictures.






Social Networking for Antiques & Art Dealers: 11 How-To Steps to Success.

In 1 on January 2, 2010 at 8:45 am

The news that the Haughton’s International Art Fair and Sanford Smith’s Works on Paper are facing the axe, need not be crippling news. It is just one more reason to get on the bandwagon and tap the Web 2.0 (or PR 2.0) tools to reach new communities of buyers.

The beauty of social networks is that they help you establish a dialog  that’s very much like the way you work a customer in  your store…

  • You chat.
  • Offer the back story.
  • Give expert advice.
  • Talk price.

Here are the rules for successful social networking. Follow them, and you will see results.

11 Must Dos of

Social Networking.

  1. Identify your social media strategy. Figure out what you want to accomplish.  When you have these answers, you can create a strategy.
  2. Train & educate your staff.  Make sure everyone who speaks on your behalf or talks with customers is totally familiar with the networks, how they work and the strategy.
  3. Take the time to look your best. You social media profiles reflect your shop and your website.  Always use an avatar, for instant recognition. Take the time to make Facebook tabs and Twitter custom  backgrounds that support your marketing initiatives.
  4. Talk to the people. Don’t let a day go by without checking in on your social sites. Services like pingfm let you update all your sites at once. Tweet Spinner and other services let you prepare and schedule messages in advance.
  5. Reward loyal fans with exclusives. By offering fans and followers items that are exclusive to the social audience, you can “demonstrate value” and make them feel good about following you.
  6. Really promote your social profiles off-site. Use the social network icons and widgets on your website, your business cards, your letterhead.
  7. Track mentions. Know what conversations are occurring in your name. There are a lot fine tracking systems on the market. Find one with archiving and data exportation options.
  8. Back-up by being  social on your website. Blogs and forums were the original social media, so make sure to support them with  good content. At the end of the day, your site is your ultimate sales tool; take care of it!
  9. Check out all the social outlets.There are literally hundreds of social sites. Saturate many sites to achieve your company’s goals.  Social news sites like Digg and  social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon help get the word out faster.
  10. Protect your shop’s good name. Services like KnowEm allow you to reserve and protect  your usernames across hundreds of sites.
  11. Don’t think you’re above it. There’s just no way around social networking anymore. It doesn’t matter if you sell paintings or furniture worth millions or deal in mid-range collectibles – you must be social.

Cartoon appeared in The New Yorker 5/11/09

Just in case you missed my blog on blogging, “A How To of Blogging for Antiques shops,” here’s the link: http://bit.ly/5Wc0IC. You’ll also hear from Bob James, of Armacost Antiques Shows, who who commented on the importance of blogging.