Can a Rep Guarantee Success in a New Market?

Question: I want to break into the market of a city that I don’t live in. Do I need a rep? How do I do this?

The real question is: Should you do this?

Before you actually move outside of your comfort zone, you need to really make sure that you should. Have you done a market analysis to understand whether you can be effective in that new region? Have you assessed the competition, your style and your capabilities and taken an honest look at the impact you might have there? Have you weighed the financial outlay you’d need to make to correctly market yourself, and calculated whether this investment will be worth it in the end?

Look Before You Leap

The Business Lab Break Into New Market Artist Representative Rep resized 600

Eric Kulin, one of the photographers I work with, primarily shoots product stills. He can and does shoot more than that, but we understand where his strengths lie. He is exceptionally capable: clean files, technical proficiency, interesting perspectives, quick work, little hassle, no attitude problems and very budget-conscious. That said, we’ve made a very calculated decision to not market him largely on a national front with major dollar expenditures.

Now, that’s not to say that we don’t work to create effective marketing to make sure people all over know about him. But we have laid out an effective and thoughtful plan that appreciates what he brings to the table on projects, and we have considered why clients may or may not want to hire him. This is exactly what I’m speaking about: There needs to be true assessment before jumping off the cliff into a whole new world.

Assessment means organized thoughts and processes:

  • Collect data (analyze the competition and potential clients)
  • Create a potential marketing plan, including all financial impacts
  • Review your work (contrast and compare against this potential new market)
  • Test the waters (put out some feelers before diving in full force)
  • Move forward – – but only if the financial outlay makes sense when compared to the financial opportunity
  • Make sure your plan has legs! Nothing in our business relative to marketing and customer response is quick. One round of marketing is not necessarily going to produce huge results. It takes multiple impressions – so plan on this.

Will a Rep Help?

Often I get asked if photographers need representatives, especially when a photographer is trying to expand his or her reach. My answer has multiple layers, and requires other answers:

  • Are you an organized person?
  • Do you have the time and interest to do research, and to use the data you collect to make effective decisions?
  • Can you create a solid marketing plan and push yourself to follow through on it, even when you get busy?
  • Do you enjoy and feel comfortable “selling” yourself and your work?
  • Are you an effective communicator, and can you reach out to potential clients comfortably?

If you can answer “yes” to all of these, then you may not need a rep, because you have the capabilities to handle what a rep would deliver.

Now here’s the next set of questions you have to answer:

  • Do you have the time to do all of these things listed above?
  • Do you really want to handle this side of the business, or would you prefer to focus on the creative end of directing, shooting and idea generation?

Photography representatives can be an asset to you and your business, but it’s a complete team effort, a partnership. The relationship is only as good as the commitment each party puts forth, the expectations both parties have and the continued communication that must exist for any partnership to succeed.

Do not go looking for a representative thinking he or she will be an automatic path to new work or expanding your business to new markets. It takes two, like a marriage. Some work and some do not. Make sure you approach this important decision with thoughtful consideration … and good luck!

About Katherine

Katherine Hennessy is a representative and consultant with a proven track record based upon a strong creative background, practical and street-smarts education, and high ethics, paired with agency experience, relationships throughout the photographic industry, and pure gut instinct. kate & company

Related Articles:

1. Dialogues Podcast: Expanding to New Geographic Markets

2. Creative Collision: To Rep or Not to Rep

3. Trying On a New Market? Passion Comes First

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