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This sample marketing plan was created with Marketing Plan Pro software.

The Art Sentry is entering its first year of business. It recognizes the imperative need to develop a comprehensive marketing program to ensure success. The basic market need is a professional installation and packaging service for artwork.

Currently, Cleveland has no truly professional service providers. There are some people/companies that can provide the services, but they lack the skill, knowledge, or desire to do the jobs as they should be done, particularly in light of the cost of the artwork that is being serviced.

Market Summary

The Art Sentry has collected a fair amount of information about the market and knows the general attributes of the prized customers. This information will be leveraged to better understand who is served, what their specific needs are, and how to better meet their needs.

Market Needs

The Art Sentry is providing its customers with professional hanging and packaging services for fine artwork. The following benefits that are important to customers will be fulfilled:

  • Convenience: The Sentry offers its service in the customer's home and offers a wide range of business hours.
  • Professional Service: The artwork that needs service is expensive and customers desire a service that is high quality to protect valuable merchandise.
  • Customer Service: The typical customer is accustomed to a high level of service and The Sentry will exceed the customer's expectations.

The art packaging and hanging industry has seen an increase of services offered from the shipping centers like Mail Boxes, Etc. Historically people turned to their handyman for art hanging help, but recently the trend has been shifting to specialists. For packaging services, it was usually the gallery that would help out their customers with packaging needs. Within the last few years with the proliferation of the shipping centers, they have expanded their service offerings to include working with artwork.

Both the handy men and shipping centers rarely have the requisite knowledge to do a professional, appropriate job for the pieces of art that they are working with. The reason for this simply a lack of experience working with pieces as expensive and fragile as artwork. While this might seem counterintuitive for an art gallery since all they deal with is artwork, they rarely posses the professional skills needed, they provide the service, but its quality is sub-par.

Market Growth

The art packaging and shipping market is a small niche market. The Sentry has been unable to collect sufficient information regarding the industry. The lack of information is because so many different incongruent people have been servicing customers that it is difficult or impossible to collect information from the disparate sources.

Regardless, the recognition of a strong market need for professional services for the upscale art collector's market has been communicated to The Sentry by various perspective customers.

SWOT Analysis

The following SWOT analysis captures the key strengths and weaknesses within the company, and describes the opportunities and threats that The Art Sentry faces.

Strengths

  • Professionalism.
  • Expert skill level, a level that has been obtained by very few.
  • A customer-centric business model.
  • A lack of serious competition.

Weaknesses

  • A relatively small market of art aficionados that truly care about the well being of their artwork.
  • The absence of a significantly growing art collectors market.
  • A limited marketing budget to aid in generating visibility.

Opportunities

  • The ability to convert art owners that do not yet have the appreciation for the care that their artwork needs.
  • The networked community nature of local art collectors who are vocal regarding excellent service providers.

Threats

  • The ability of a competitor to adopt "best practices" and become competitive.
  • Potential competition from a larger gallery that decides to hire service professionals for the express purpose of servicing the Cleveland market.

Competition

The competition can be broken down into several categories:

  1. Handymen: This group of competitors are often called to provide hanging services for artwork. The type of people that will use this service provider are people that do not recognize the inherent inferiority of this service provider, or people that just do not seem to care. This second class of people is fairly unusual that they will spend a decent amount of money on the art piece but not follow through with the same appreciation of value when it comes to the installation of their work. This irony is hard to understand but not observe. It might be explained by the fact that the value of the art is for appearance instead of the value of the art being a combination of the aesthetic appreciation as well as the art as a monetary investment.

  2. Shippers such as Mail Boxes, Etc.: These competitors handle a fair amount of the packaging business. Their popularity is based on the perception that they are qualified to package artwork. Pieces of art require special attention and knowledge that is not possessed by standard packers. Art pieces are a very distinct type of cargo, with each type of art, whether a watercolor, a painting, a sculpture, or a mobile requiring special attention and knowledge in the protection against harm during transport. This knowledge is gained through very specific work with art, not through general packaging techniques and experience.

  3. Commercial shippers that also offer packaging services: This competitor services the niche of packaging art to a much smaller degree than the Mail Boxes, Etc. type companies, and also possesses the same general lack of proper knowledge needed to ensure safe transport.

  4. Galleries: Most galleries offer packaging and hanging as a value-added service to their customers. It is unusual for a gallery to provide these services for non-customers. Although one would expect that a gallery would have the professional competence to provide these services, they generally offer these services as an added benefit that generates little revenue for them, therefore, the quality of these services are not high.

The buying habits many people practice is with little contemplative thought in regards to the best service provider for artwork hanging and packaging. People often do notspend any time to find the best service provider. Part of this can be explained by the fact that the customer is unaware that there are specialized service providers for artwork.

Service Offering

The Art Sentry provides both residential and commercial customers with art packaging and installation services. The packaging services will be useful for art that is going to be stored or shipped. The hanging services can be used if a new piece is going to be mounted in a home or business, or if an existing piece will have a new home within an existing room/structure.

The Art Sentry's professional skills were learned through 12 years of practical experience as a shipper, as well as a head installer/packer for a nationally recognized museum of art. The Art Sentry's services vastly differ from the run of the mill Mail Boxes, Etc. type shipper or the handyman installer. Having the credentials of a packer is not sufficient to ensure zero damage in shipment. The packaging of art is a science in itself.

Having a specialized art packager prepare the work for shipment is inexpensive insurance for:

  1. The piece of mind knowledge that the item is well protected and likely to arrive at the destination in one piece;
  2. The only way that you can fight a denial of claim from a shipper who damages the piece due to their mishandling.

It is extremely difficult for a shipper to deny a claim when it has been packaged by The Art Sentry because of their industry knowledge and experience.  Use of The Art Sentry creates a presumption of due diligence.

Additionally, The Art Sentry is differentiated from the standard handyman that uses traditional wire to hang the works. Wire is never used by The Art Sentry. Wire is a fundamentally flawed method of hanging pieces because of the inherent instability of the hanging method. The Art Sentry only uses hooks to mount pieces. The use of hooks eliminates the possibility of shifting of the object. The hooks take more time and precision to set up but is the only proper way of hanging art pieces of any value.

The Art Sentry charges clients either a flat project rate that would be calculated after viewing the proposed requirements, or an hourly rate.

Keys to Success

The keys to success are:

  • Visibility and customer awareness.
  • Professionalism, in both customer care and services provided.

Critical Issues

  • Not to take a too conservative approach to marketing. Developing sufficient visibility and awareness is key. This is especially important for the corporate market that can be very lucrative as corporations typically have much larger art collections than individuals.
  • Become the premier artwork service provider in the Cleveland Metropolitan area.

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