The Curator's Eye, a company with a service designed to bring dealers and high-end buyers together, recently released an interview they conducted with noted autograph and manuscript seller Claudia Strauss-Schulson of Schulson Autographs. Naturally, such an interview would not fall into the category of objective journalism, but that doesn't make the company and its marketing plan any less interesting. We followed up with Ms. Strauss-Schulson and she reconfirmed the useful role of the site to her in generating new customers.
The Curator's Eye can be found online, but Editor in Chief Leah Tharpe is quick to point out that “The Curator's Eye is not a website, rather an extremely efficient marketing service tailored to the highest-end art dealer.” In other words, while the firm has a website where you can view art (and “books, maps and manuscripts” is one of its categories of art), it is nothing like the large book listing sites most booksellers employ. The Curator's Eye is geared toward building long-term relationships rather than short-term sales. As Ms. Tharpe says, “The Curator's Eye is a client generation service providing additional client analytics. No other business does this for art dealers.”
The website may be the hub through which clients flow, but the Curator's Eye aggressively seeks new participants elsewhere. Ms. Tharpe explains, “The Curator's Eye places over 10,000,000 individual ad impressions each month with its highly targeted advertisements on such websites as The New York Times, Artfact, Forbes, The Art Newspaper, The Independent (a UK paper), and The LA Times. We reach between 500,000 and 1,000,000 people each month with these ads.”
When you reach the Curator's Eye website, you will find artworks broken down by category, including books, maps and manuscripts, as mentioned before. That will take you to a page of images of items being offered, eight at a time, with an arrow to scroll forward to see more. Clicking on the image will bring you more information. However, clicking on links to buy or inquire will not immediately enable you to make a purchase, nor take you to the dealer. For that, you must be logged in, and to log in, naturally enough, you need to sign up. That enables The Curator's Eye to learn more about you first.
That is where the marketing strategy really clicks in. They can employ this information to determine who in their database of names are likely to be good prospects for a particular participant in their program. The odds that a potential client sees the particular autographed piece that is of interest may not be great, but The Curator's Eye may be able to locate people who are interested in autographed documents, ones to whom Ms. Strauss-Schulson can make the full array of her inventory available. In this way, The Curator's Eye is sort of the anti-listing site. Those sites are designed to make a quick sale, often to an anonymous person. This marketing strategy is designed to create a long-term relationship with a potential long-term buyer, and generally one with sufficient income to buy at a high level.
Ms. Tharpe reports that registrants on their site have an average net worth of $2 million, and an average income of $100,000. The top 10% have an average net worth of almost $20 million and income of over $1 million. Obviously, these are the most desirable people to reach if you are selling collectible, rather than just used books, but they are very hard to find. That is the role that The Curator's Eye takes on – advertising to the millions to find the select few who are potential long-term lucrative clients and forward those prospects on to their participants.
In the interview released by The Curator's Eye, Claudia Strauss-Schulson was quoted as saying, “It’s a marketing tool that attracts a new audience. I especially like - and was surprised by - the number of international viewers and the interest in our material from other points of the world we have not reached. I like that our autographs and manuscripts are viewed in the context of fine art and antiques which broadens the market for historical documents.” Ms. Strauss-Schulson confirmed to us that while The Curator's Eye has not made direct sales like a listing site, it has been useful for her business in lead generation. She explained, “It has worked for me in this way: someone sees a small sample of material on The Curator's Eye, joins the mailing for future catalogs and purchases something other than what they saw on the site.” It is not Schulson Autographs' primary means of selling material, but is another tool in the arsenal for reaching customers in a time when many dealers are struggling to find new prospects. This is not likely to be a useful vehicle for dealers selling inexpensive material, but for those who need a high income audience to succeed, it may be worth giving a try.
For those interested in learning more about The Curator's Eye, they can be found online at www.curatorseye.com.
Schulson Autographs may be found online at www.schulsonautographs.com.