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A Success Story: Rick Rusing

Success does not start with a job; it starts with a meeting.  It is known in the photography industry that not just anyone is granted an appointment with Wieden + Kennedy, which is why Rick Rusing was pleased with the fact that they were able to get a meeting. “Not only did we get a sit down, but it went incredibly well.” Fishbein humbly explains that he is a bit reluctant to call this an outright success just yet, however, when words like “epic” and “impressive” are the creative descriptors-of-choice regarding their portfolio, we beg to differ.

We sat down with Rick and his Studio Manager Aiden Fishbein to talk about their successful appointment with the well-renowned Ad Agency, Wieden + Kennedy.

Can you give us some background on the process that got you a meeting with W+K?

Fishbein: The process essentially looked like this: We’d completed two rounds of email promotions and direct mail campaigns. When it came time for our first telemarketing cycle, Rick and I had strategized 3 Pacific Northwestern cities to target (being that I am located in Portland), and 3 Southwestern cities for Rick (he’s in Scottsdale). Our open rates and general analytics from our other campaigns had given us a little confidence boost, so we tossed a Hail Mary. Boom, first appointment immediately set with Publicis Seattle (agency responsible for the recent T-Mobile rebrand), and boom again…. second appointment with W+K.

Has a job resulted from this meeting?

Rusing: They have not requested any bids yet, hence our timid-ness to label this as an actual “success”.

What mixture of marketing mediums do you think helped get you this meeting? 

Rusing: It really is hard to tell. As a photographer in today’s world with the myriad of marketing resources available, and the speed with which the portfolio trends change, it’s a full time job in itself to whittle down the strategies that will serve us best and roll them out. I can say that having an incredibly honed portfolio of work never hurts.

Fishbein: Being that our portfolio is really the only aspect we have any direct control over, we focused our energies on this aspect and delegated most of the the marketing strategy to our Consultant, Angee Murray and Campaign Manager, Gabby Peck at Agency Access. Unless a client expressly tells us how we pushed them over the buyer-edge, we never know the exact mixture of marketing vs. portfolio strength that gets them on board. However, if we are painstaking about the quality of our work, and team up with a marketing team that knows what they’re doing, good things usually happen.

What does your after meeting etiquette entail?

Rusing: What we like to do after any meeting is send handwritten “thank you” cards to all the individuals involved in the meeting. We go to great lengths to customize our own card design and tailor each written message to each individual, citing specific one-on-one interactions.

Fishbein: It does take time to do things this way, but there are just some things a follow up email will never do. That tactile, personalized approach may be old fashioned, but it does separate us from the millions of other photographers vying for the same bids. Rick has a lot of luxury brands in his client list, and we want to be seen as a luxurious brand ourselves. The romance of heavy-stocked, finely crafted paper has still never met its match.

Rick Rusing

A weird and versatile, mystical and magical, incredibly colorful and unapologetic personality, and most often, without notice, will show you an otherworldly side of inspiration. He’s quite candid about how he sees himself as brash bit comedian, eating, drinking and traveling, most often through some dingy corners and gutters in places unheard, nevertheless always indulging in some sort of transformative stints. His photography is viscerally seductive and can be equally complex, and yes, there’s always an underbelly. And though he doesn’t like pain or even minor discomfort, he seems to overdose on endorphins constantly creating more of what he doesn’t care for just to get the shot to tell the story others can’t find. His shoots can be quite raw. You’ll notice they have a Rusing rhythm and romance signature that gets the reaction you want most. The whole thing can be as moody, fluid and transcendent as he is.

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