About The Harrison Gallery
Opened in May 2001,The Harrison Gallery has established itself among fine art galleries in the Northeast. Located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, it is a destination for travelers, a constant for residents, and a quality source of fine artists.
Founded by Jo Ellen Harrison, Williams College '79, in an inspired return to the art world, the Harrison Gallery fills a previously vacant gap in a culturally charged area. Surrounded by The Clark Art Institute, The Williams College Museum of Art, and MASS MoCA, The Harrison Gallery is about bringing art home. The philosophy of The Harrison Gallery is to honor the spirit of art in all of us, and the collection therefore offers a range of affordability with the same discrimination for the beauty and value of the objects.
In April of 2011, Harrison opened a second business in Williamstown, Ruby Sparks, a women's clothing boutique.
When Harrison, who was an art major in college, checked out of corporate life to found her gallery, her focus was on working directly with visitors to the area, second home owners and local art aficionados in Williamstown. A rudimentary website comprised her online presence. About a year and a half later, she was looking for additional ways to promote the business and decided to utilize a classic gallery marketing tool— postcards highlighting individual shows to generate visitors for the featured artist. Initially, Harrison worked with a local designer and printer to create the postcards."Although I like to do business locally, the process of creating, editing and proofing the cards was a nightmare and way too time-consuming," she says. "Because I was producing a campaign per month, and because I didn't always have access to the featured art until shortly before the show, the long lead times to get these postcards produced just wasn't working in my favor."
Harrison found an online printer on the West Coast that specialized in postcards and delivered fabulous quality. But, Harrison explains, "Even though the quality was exceptional, I found the service to be very expensive. An analysis of my P&L reflected that I was spending much more than I wanted to on printing every year. In addition, my satisfaction was negatively impacted by the shipping time from the West Coast, and the expense of shipping those long distances. I needed to find a better solution."
When Harrison learned about Boston-based 48HourPrint.com, she was initially pleased to find a local online business to work with. "I also like the fact that their website is easier to use than what I had been doing before. It is easier to upload files, proof, and approve the work. And their prices are more competitive, about 30% less than what I had been paying on the West Coast. That shifted everything for me."
At the same time Harrison was considering a new printing solution, she also worked with a designer to create a postcard template to make creation of monthly campaigns faster and easier.
"I got more strategic, and decided to create a multichannel marketing campaign for each of the shows," she says. "I invested in getting our website up to speed, placing every item of inventory on the site and refreshing it weekly, so that when I send out postcards, clients who are not local can visit the site to help in their travel decision and/or a decision to purchase that artist's work."
She also conducted an analysis of her client base, learning that about 70% of her clients did not live locally. This new strategy has worked well for Harrison, often resulting in the sale of four to seven paintings per month via the web, mostly from existing clients or those who were receiving the postcards .
Harrison reports that not only is she very satisfied with the quality, pricing and service level she receives from 48HourPrint.com, but she is also pleased with the results from her postcard campaigns.
"Clients are always telling me how much they love the postcards," she says. "It is the number one thing they always say. They tell me they are beautiful and they like to keep them for future reference." And because clients keep the postcards, she says, they help to increase sales over the long term."We have a client from New Hampshire who purchased a $250 painting from a while back," says Harrison, citing a specific case. "Recently, he was at home recovering from surgery and decided he needed a painting for his dining room wall. Because of our regular communication with him, he came to us first, and that resulted in selling a much more expensive painting. This is just one example of how our direct mail initiatives and our 48HourPrint.com relationship is benefiting our bottom line."
As a small business, The Harrison Gallery also buys other printing from 48HourPrint.com, including the periodic catalogs and an annual show schedule.
"While the postcards are created from a template and can be managed by me without a lot of personal interaction with the folks at 48HourPrint.com, the other items are custom work ," she says. "With my previous online vendor, I was restricted to specific products and formats. 48HourPrint.com does not have those restrictions. Though custom work is a little more complicated, I have found that the customer service at 48HourPrint.com is exceptional and they make the process as easy as possible."
Harrison is also pleased that 48HourPrint.com has invested in outside sales personnel, and that she is able to benefit from an in-person account management relationship with her sales rep, even though she is a small business.
"He keeps me informed about new options and opportunities, and helps me think through some of the custom work I need to do, which is about 10% of my printing," she says.
When asked what her favorite 48HourPrint.com products are, Harrison answered without hesitation, "The 8.5" x 5.5" double-sided glossy postcards are my first choice, and the second would be the 11.5" x 8.5" wafer-sealed folded color cards . Both sides of that product are glossy. Of course, competitive pricing, ease of use and timeliness are also very important to me."
Always looking for new marketing strategies, Harrison is considering adding QR codes to her mailings to attract more attention, make it easier for her clients to access specific show information, and to enable better tracking of postcard results.
"I am looking forward to maintaining my ongoing relationship with 48HourPrint.com," Harrison says. "In addition to the great work they are already doing for me, I am sure that they will continue to add new products and services that I can to take advantage of to grow my business."
Put me on Gary's list for the best deals and new product info.