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 pedigreed sales force, and its consignments are acquired through competive proposal acquisitions. Sotheby's culture and experience is like no other business: One to five percent of the clients bring in ninety to ninety-five precent 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/UI 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 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 engagment to get clients to immerse with the art and register to bid online which would drives sale awareness sooner. The new website needed to reflect the brands 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 they way the clients shopped for art online.
200% increase time on site and 60% sales increase
The Preferred loyalty site was antiquated and confusing thus not supporting Sotheby's loyalty clients in the way a luxury brand should provide exceptional service and support.
The Action & Planning
Myself 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 stucture in less than a month while design explorations we're being developed in parallel. The process was a model for future projects, and the site was unanimously positive among the clients and the business.
The result was a smarter, lighter, more fluid and fully-responsive site that offers more intuitive information on rewards, events, and current programs offerings, presented in a sophisticated, elegant, and functional experience.
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 functionalty 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.
Sotheby's needed to support the need of the collectors in an increasingly mobile world, many of whom prefer the convenience of particpating in sales on-line. BidNow allows clients to watch all auctions live on-line 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 situtions, design a UI for all devices, and a best-in-class frictionless experience that allowed users to browse, register, watch, and bid.
Sotheby’s BIDNOW was a phenomenal success in increasing online sales, new clients, and registration while furthering the brand halo effect to clients who wanted access from anywhere in the world.
Sotheby's departments and I were always looking for out-of-the-box solutions to engage with the cleints 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.
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.
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 depatment and marketing team to pitch a few digital app concepts of the Bay Psalm Book to Old South Church in Boston.
The church loved the idea and Sotheby's won the rights to auction.
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 factor for selling antique cars was being able to hear the engine. This was huge challenge since during viewing hours it was not ideal to have all cars runing 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 inconvenience.
The result of this solution drove sales %50 beyound expectations.
CREATIVE DIRECTION • EXPERIENCE STRATEGY • VISUAL DESIGN • UX/UI • DIGITAL MEDIA