My three Years in the Art World and Challenges of Marketing to the 1%
Founded in 1744, Sotheby's is one of the world's oldest and most venerable auction houses. With salesrooms in New York, London, Hong Kong, and Paris, Sotheby's sells a diverse array of rare and extraordinary objects including contemporary art, Chinese ceramics, magnificent jewels, historical artifacts, musical instruments, and wine.
Sotheby's is part of an art world duopoly with Christie's, both have a pedigreed sales force, and its consignments are acquired through competitive proposal acquisitions. Sotheby's culture and experience are like no other business: One to five percent of the clients bring in ninety to ninety-five percent of the total revenue. The works of art come and go by the seasonal migration of the rich, only to be seen for a week or two before being sold into someone's private collection for the next twenty-some years. Sotheby's had run its business without much regard for digital until I was brought in to help continue to improve and refine the client experience by creating memorable and usable solutions in the digital space.
During my time at Sotheby's, I led the change to integrated marketing campaigns and product development for mobile, tablet, and desktop platforms. I also provided creative leadership and design direction, UX strategy, built a team, and developed budgets and scheduling for Sotheby's digital services.
THE CATALOGUE APP
Sotheby's catalogues are used as the main marketing driver for sales and they publish close to 400 catalogues per year. The culture is very immersed in print and each bespoke catalogue takes six months to produce. The goals and objective were to lower print cost, market sales sooner, move clients to digital consumption, and facilitate easier and faster sales registration.
The Action and Planning
Digital Publishing Success Story
As one of the first publications to go with Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite, we quickly become the poster child that helped Adobe sell the platform. We also helped to stress-test a new publishing solution with Sotheby's volume and cadence of publishing. Today, thanks to the success of Sotheby's project, Adobe is now the reigning publishing solution for most major publications, such as Condé Nast, Hearst, Rodale, and many more.
YOUR ART WORLD
To ensure we connected and differentiated Sotheby's from Christie's, I led the creative charge and was part of the strategy on a unique four video series released weekly, documenting all the parts that make up the Sotheby's whole which ran across multiple channels and touchpoints such as rich media banners, social, media, kiosk, and minisite.
Insights around the heritage of the brand and reverence of the key audience enabled us to position Sotheby's expertise and sense of quality as leaders within the art world.
YOUR ART WORLD branded campaign helped drive sales up 30% and increase new client registration up 25%. Conversion and sharing on social channels was a huge success, which helped Sotheby's be top-of-mind over Christie's that year.
Campaign Touch Points
Sotheby's current website was dated, non-responsive, and more focused on marketing sales than driving engagement to get clients to immerse with the art and register to bid online which would drive sale awareness sooner. The new website needed to reflect the brand's elegances, style, providence, and expertise.
The Action and Planning
The team and I worked through many UX iterations and prototypes to complete an overhaul of Sotheby's website and backend. We used our expertise and imagination to strategize and realize the conception of their digital ecosystem.
We started the strategic process with a comprehensive review of Sotheby's analytics and interviews with stakeholders, department specialist, and clients to gather goals and objectives. We also presented a competitive analysis of art, auction, and luxury competitors, from interface design to monetization models.
Our ultimate recommendations paved the way for Sotheby's current design and structure. That roadmap involved a revolutionary and evolutionary approach to the present and future of Sotheby's digital marketing of sales and a frictionless registration funnel.
Our vision was a site that connected people to their art taste like never before. Personalized recommendations, frictionless registration, rich and engaging videos as well as stories by experts were just some of the new features that would change the way the clients shopped for art online.
200% increase time on site and 60% sales increase
The Action & Planning
I and the UX team worked closely with the Preferred department to define client personas and using Axure to prototype out the experience based on the business requirements. This method allowed us to move quickly, collaborate with everyone needed to test and map the user experience with the department stakeholders. This agile process helped define the site structure in less than a month while design explorations were being developed in parallel. The process was a model for future projects, and the site was unanimously positive among the clients and the business.
Sotheby's needed to support the need of the collectors in an increasingly mobile world, many of whom prefer the convenience of participating in sales online. BidNow allows clients to watch all auctions live online and place bids in real time, from anywhere in the world.
The challenges that I and the UX team needed to overcome were; create a bidding experience that could handle spotty situations, design a UI for all devices, and a best-in-class frictionless experience that allowed users to browse, register, watch, and bid.
Sotheby's Diamond needed a website that would showcase its products in a bold, elegant, and functional manner. The site goal was to function as a vanity site forgoing e-commerce functionality since the audience was very targeted to a niche demographic. I worked closely with the department to strategize the photography, look and feel, and seek out the right agency talent to build a smarter, lighter, more fluid and fully-responsive site that offers more to prospects looking to purchase luxury jewelry.
Sothebys' loyalty program needed an app that would give the client their All-Access Pass to the World's Best Museums, events, offers, and more while on the move. Preferred clients take their pleasure and travel seriously. The team and I sketched, prototyped, and designed a solution that finds them the best art, museums, restaurants, nightlife, activities, and shopping suggestions while on the go.
Sotheby's departments and I were always looking for out-of-the-box solutions to engage with the clients beyond the print experience, and for the Egon Schiele sale I partnered with Layar to take the experience to another reality and launch a video to help tell a more engaging story which helped increase the sale awareness and a record-breaking sale of Egon Schiele that year.
The Bay Psalm Book
One of only 11 surviving copies of the Bay Psalm Book – the first book printed in what is now the United States of America. The book is a metrical Psalter, first printed in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Psalms in it are metrical translations into English. A copy of it is up for public sale for the first time since 1947. Christie's and Sotheby's were in a heated battle to land the estimated $30 million consignment and Sotheby's needed a creative solution to leverage the deal without a money battle. I worked closely with the books department and marketing team to pitch a few digital app concepts of the Bay Psalm Book to Old South Church in Boston.
Art of the Automobile
The Art of Automobile auction needed more than cars just sitting pretty for viewing. I worked closely with the business to concept ideas that would differentiate this sale from previous sales. One of the biggest factors for selling antique cars was being able to hear the engine. This was a huge challenge since during viewing hours it was not ideal to have all cars running their engines at the same time. The solution I proposed was building out individual iPad information kiosk that told the history showed vintage videos, car stats, and allowed the viewer to listen to the engine without the whole auction room being an inconvenience.
The result of this solution drove sales %50 beyond expectations.
CREATIVE DIRECTION • EXPERIENCE STRATEGY • VISUAL DESIGN • UX/UI • DIGITAL MEDIA