Although often confused for each other, sales and marketing are very different. But they both require a good balancing act and require business owners to wear multiple hats!
Sales and marketing often get grouped together because they have the same goal. Marketing teaches consumers why they should choose a product or service over a competitor’s. Sales is the act of selling the product or service. Without marketing, sales will not generate and without sales, marketing would have no purpose.
Marketing creates the reach that persuades prospects. If you’re struggling with how to market your brand, you may want to call in the professionals – consultants. Depending on your market and the image you’re striving for, a consultant can help put your vision into full action! You can find a full array of industry consultants here.
Since the communication of your marketing is crucial to your brand and the work you get, you want to create a marketing campaign that will not only return your investment, but allow you to showcase the kind of work you’re good at and love doing. Before you can do this, you need to create your brand.
Your brand should consist of elements that invoke the feelings you want your products and services to portray. Setting this up with a consultant and a designer is always a great idea! Some resources for designers that specialize in the industry are:
It’s always better to have someone design your logo for you, so you’re happy with it and don’t keep updating it. Most consultants have great designer connections that can provide a one-on-one experience.
Destry Jaimes, an editorial and commercial photographer in Austin, Texas, found his designer right in his town. He utilized his proactive creativity and turned a light, airy wedding invitation designer into someone who created an edgy, elegant and powerful business card – a one-of-a-kind conversation maker!
When I asked him about his take on marketing versus sales, Destry explained:
Next to pricing, the most popular question I hear from emerging pros is always, “How do you get work?”
My answer, of course, is “marketing,” and it usually goes something like this: Marketing is a keystone to any successful business. It’s a nonstop job, especially for an independent. It’s hard for clients to hire you if they don’t know you exist, so you have to get their attention and let your prospective clients know you’re available.
Marketing isn’t only about creating awareness, it’s about building your brand. Your brand is simply a statement of who you are artistically, and sometimes personally.
As an example, when my wife suggested that I use a calavera to represent myself, I thought it was brilliant! On a personal level, I’ve always collected anything related to El Dia de los Muertos, so it definitely represented who I am – right down to the tattoos. On a creative level, I felt that it was the perfect way to represent the work that I’m known for, which can be a bit edgy, yet elegant. Sarah Wymer of Studio SloMo incorporated the skull on the new business card design, and I guess you could say my brand was born.
Having that well-defined brand acts like my compass and really helps set the course for the type of work I produce, the types of clients that I target and even the clothes I wear. It all has to click. My brand is my style, and my style is my brand.
Though you will find many who claim that marketing yourself and selling yourself are one in the same, I personally feel that there is a substantial difference in the two. Marketing yourself is only half the battle. It involves building a brand, researching potential clients, sending out promos (email AND printed), blogging, etc. It’s rather passive in nature. On the other hand, selling yourself is a very active part of getting work.
No matter how much things have changed over the years, one thing remains the same: Business is all about relationships. Every time you meet or speak with a potential buyer, you have the opportunity to lay the foundation, find ways to connect and ultimately build trust. To sell yourself, you have to know your strengths, you have to be confident, and most of all you have to listen. If you can identify needs or problems that your client may have, you can more easily offer solutions. Building strong relationships with clients and prospects is solid gold, and well worth the effort.
I don’t claim to be any sort of marketing expert. I only know the mistakes I’ve made, and what I’ve learned along the way. I also know that everything you read or hear (including all of the above) is absolutely worthless if you don’t put in the time and effort.
There are lots of great books, blogs and podcasts out there specifically on marketing for commercial photographers. I suggest getting your hands on as much of that information as possible, putting together a solid marketing plan and getting to work!
Although Destry’s strong brand aids in the strength of his marketing, he realizes sales are phase two and handled totally differently. Being proactive in his community and the industry gives him added exposure on multiple blogs, which is all part of increasing recognition of his brand. It’s a numbers game.
When you have your brand and your communication elements ready, you can begin to put your marketing plan into action. I recommend The 10 Branches to Marketing Yourself to communicate your brand and product:
These efforts should be developed into your marketing plan if they work for you. Obviously, some of these are musts, but if you don’t have time for them all, you need to make choices. Hire an assistant or manage your time efficiently to fit in what works.
After your marketing is en route to potential clients, you’ll need to be prepared for the sales process – everything you do to get a signed agreement or contract. This is where you will realize both marketing and sales are necessities to the success of a business. If there’s an unbalanced effort on either side, it will also deter your growth. This is where I always hear the infamous, “My marketing didn’t work – I made no ROI last year!”
My explanation is always the same: “Your marketing worked, but how you sell yourself may need to be adjusted.” Here’s a blog post from fellow contributor Judy Herrmann on how to perfect your sales process: Blending Your Creative Nature With Your Sales Efforts. When marketing and sales are strategically combined, you’ll usually experience growth in your business!
In 2008, Heather Lefort brought her 16 years of sales experience, leadership, and exceptional track record for client satisfaction to Agency Access. Her solid business background, expertise, and compassion allow her to provide unlimited knowledge to clients that always exceed their expectations. She is currently working towards her MBA in Advanced Marketing Strategy.
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