Cold calls, thy name is hell!
As someone who’s worn many hats in this industry – photographer, buyer, producer, agent – I can tell you anyone who enjoys making or receiving cold calls is a rare breed. But I can also tell you that cold calls are a notable component of successful marketing plans, and if done right can be both highly effective and completely painless for makers and receivers alike.
The most important ingredient in successful cold calling is knowing what to ask when that potential client picks up.
The cold call is not the time or place to be asking potential customers what they do, what kind of clients they serve, etc. Before calling, be sure they’re a good fit for you.
You can gain this information by familiarizing yourself with their website, where you can discover their client list and learn about the work they do. Come armed with this information so instead of asking about them, you can ask to send them a link to your fabulous website, or if you might bestow their team with pastries and your awesome portfolio.
Clearly identify yourself and the reason you’re calling. Identify a client or two for whom you feel you or your artist would be a good fit.
Be pleasant, articulate and brief. If there is more than one buyer, ask which account this person handles. If they’re receptive, you might also ask which buyers handle which other accounts. Ask if it’s ok to send a follow-up email, which affords an opportunity to present yourself again – and gain their email address for future promotions.
A fellow photo rep recently said to me, “It’s our job to ‘sell, sell, sell!’”
Is it, really? Most art buyers and art directors I know, including me, recoil from being pressured into a hard sell. I believe that if the work is good, it will sell itself – once it’s presented to the right people. And that door opens more easily in a genial, easy atmosphere.
You can work the cold call more to your advantage, with a little front-end research into your target market and a compact, clever formula for delivering the right information in the right way. You don’t have to love cold calls, but to market successfully you probably have to do them – and even if you don’t hire a professional to do them for you, they don’t have to hurt.
I recently became a Partner/Producer/Agent for the wonderfully talented Graham Brown Photography.
Prior to this, I wore a Sr. Art Producer’s hat for 15 years. I was fortunate to produce great work for some fantastic agencies. The most recent position was at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, and a good many years at Carmichael Lynch. Among my Freelance arsenal, are: Goodby Silverstein, Apple, DraftFCB, Olson, Y&R, Cutwater, BabyCenter, and Pereira & O’Dell.
I enjoy facilitating portfolio reviews, and participating in workshops, panels and blogs for APA, ASMP, and Agency Access.
This spring, I’ll be reviewing portfolios at the Palm Springs Photo Festival. Bonnie Brown
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