You thought you had been doing all the right things. You have a website, a marketing plan with both email and printed promotions, and yet, you’re in a rut, and the phone isn’t ringing. How long do you wait before making some changes to the existing marketing plan, or is there a point when it might be “too late?”
It’s never too late to put out great new work, so perhaps you don’t need to change your entire marketing plan, just some of it, or maybe add other elements to it.
Have you given your current strategy enough time, or are you impatient? I once had a client who complained that nothing had resulted from his email campaign, and when I asked him how many email blasts had he sent out – the answer was only one! So give the plan at least a year before you start making hasty judgments. When you grow a garden, you have to sow the seeds and then be patient and let nature take its course. Yes, there are certain things you must do to nurture the process, such as updating your website regularly, but some of it ultimately is out of your hands.
When I teach marketing to photography students, I give them the dictionary definition: “Marketing is the process or technique of promoting, selling and distributing a product or service.” A key word here is “process,” which essentially means it is an ongoing activity – did Nike stop promoting once it became an iconic brand? No, of course not – Nike consistently updates its brand and promotes everywhere. The other key word is “technique,” which refers to the different parts that make up the complete marketing strategy.
Never judge your results by one single component.
Usually, when we think of marketing, we may not get too excited and instead moan and groan and dread the entire process. You are in business, like it or not, so if we don’t find a way to enjoy all of what it is we do, not just the creating of our images, but every aspect of our business, then our results are not going to reflect the essential joy of our daily work and creative purpose.
Keith Barraclough is a New York-based photographer and client of mine living in Washington, D.C. when we first met. He started sending out his e-postcards about 3 years ago to a select group of clients and friends, and after some feedback, he began making them more “personal” so that they looked like real postcards and not simply an image in an email. Using a simple template, he was able to place not only the image in the card but also a date, a postage stamp, and a handwritten note, so it looks authentic. His mailing list is small and very targeted and is comprised of the people he has met and would like to work with. They are sent out usually every four to six weeks and show either client-driven or personal work that is “new.” “It’s just a fun way to keep my name on their minds and to show them I am still shooting,” says Keith.
Here are some examples from his e-postcards from the past couple of years:
Keith Barraclough’s Dog Breeds Aug./Sept. 2011
Keith Barraclough’s Banff National Park July 2011
Keith Barraclough’s Dancers and Musicians April 2011
Keith Barraclough’s Vermont Nov. 2010
Keith Barraclough’s Blackboard Confessions April 2010
Keith Barraclough’s Bubby’s Feb. 2010
After spending a number of years in the commercial photography industry, Louisa Curtis now works to help photographers refine their vision, target the appropriate audience, and create and implement internet-driven business plans.
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