In today’s day and age, the most successful marketing results are ones that utilize multiple channels. As a commercial artist, there are 12 channels of marketing that I, as a Creative Consultant, consider to be extremely viable. Please note that each channel of marketing could have its own article. I am only briefly touching on them to give you a broad understanding of the options that would work for your budget and time.
Ideally, before you bring yourself to the market you should have these three things. A strong physical and emotional brand, an updated website on a user-friendly platform and a database that has a combination of your low lying fruit contacts as well as your dream clients. Agency Access has over 90,000 contacts that break down into company types from Ad Agencies, Graphic Design firms, Magazines and Corporate.
One certainly asks themselves whether or not email promotion is still a viable means of marketing in today’s day and age where inboxes are constantly flooded. The answer is YES! It remains as the only means of marketing that is track-able while also being able to assess and classify your leads. With email marketing, there are quite a few variables to consider. It’s important to think about your work as a campaign not as individual pictures that you recently shot and are your favorite new images. This is an opportunity to show your cohesive vision and variety of work that you are capable of producing to your target audience. When choosing a sending frequency, I recommend sending six times. This allows you to touch your target audience every other month. Another important part of email promotion is subject lines. With Google getting smarter and smarter, I like to use a subject line tester to make sure that I am keeping all emails out of the creatives spam folder. Finding a tester is as easy as typing “free subject line tester” into Google and numerous results will pop up. When choosing the voice, you want to portray with your subject line, you can go a few ways. One way would be to speak about the subject line as reinforcement of your brand, of who you are and what you do (i.e. Editorial fashion photographer)
Another option is to use a third-party endorsement, such as “cover shoot for Vogue” and the third is more about using descriptors such as narrative storytelling. You want to keep your subject lines under 32 characters but the subject line testers will be sure to let you know if you are over the allotted amount. With email marketing, our focus is not necessarily on the statistics anymore. It is true that statistics have significantly dropped in the past five years due to the volume of emails being produced. However, what we do focus on is classifying the leads we get through our clicks and opens. We’re looking at the viability of these people that are clicking or opening. If it’s a promo with food imagery, are they clicking because they’re hungry and its good food shot? Or are they clicking because they have viable food clients for you to work on and there is synergy between the bodies of work that you guys have?
With the rise of emails, creatives and companies are enjoying the experience of a tactile direct mail card. It’s a treat to smell the ink, touch the paper and experience the story. There are many different finishes from satin, matte and of course, glossy. Many different options are coming into play and artists are getting more creative with the presentation. It’s rare that I see traditional 4 x 6 direct-mail cards anymore. I’m seeing way more 5 x 8.5 postcards, tri-folds, bi-folds, matchbook folds, French folds, and posters, zines, and custom newspaper magazines. Since you are most likely going to be sending your direct mail piece to your dream clients, and there’s no tracking, my suggestion would be to send an email in addition. I generally utilize the same imagery in the direct mail as I do the email; possibly some additional images depending on the format and size of the direct-mail card.
Who really enjoys making a cold call? Who actually likes to receive a cold call? The truth is they’re really difficult to make as well as to receive. The goal here is to make the process as painless as possible. In order to do so, make sure you do your research, know who you’re calling, have a reason to call and start off with a compliment which will, hopefully, ultimately begin some sort of engagement and cuts the edge of a cold call. When they pick up, start off the call asking if they have a minute. Being courteous of their time takes you far. Let them know that you’ve been marketing to them and then move the conversation forward with a compliment on something they’ve done or a question that relates to what they do. Remember, your emotional brand comes through with everything that you do so, make sure that you’re true to yourself. Today, more than ever, people want to be communicated to within a genuine manner.
Your existing clients and contacts are your low-lying fruit. They already know who you are and hopefully have had a positive experience working with you. It’s important to be personal and connect with them on a quarterly basis, allowing them to know what you’ve been up to and stay on their radar. A personalized email or handwritten note cards are great ways to do this.
I’ve seen a decrease in blogs and an increase in social media presence. If you are going to do a blog you have to commit to a schedule and make sure that the content is viable and engaging. It is a great way if you’re a good writer to showcase your personality and share more intimate experience and in-depth background on personal projects are other areas of your focus and interest.
Special Promotions /Personal Projects
Special promos are a great way to show your creative process, have fun and be playful and engage with your audience to create something that’s memorable. Personal projects are extremely important because they help to create a conversation with creatives. It’s important to stay true to your passion and why you’re doing what you’re doing and personal projects allow you to do that.
Check out Inti St. Clair special promo that she did on a lifestyle coffee shoot.
Inti hand-delivered these promos to creative’s announcing her move to Austin, Texas and in turn, received numerous estimates and jobs.
They cost more money to produce but you could produce a limited number and leverage them by creating a behind-the-scenes video or process video on how it was made and share that via your social media. No plastic sleeve blog features some great examples. If you have strong design skills or friends that are designers and can concept clever ways to engage your viewers, then special promos are a great option.
As we know, social media is not going away but instead, it’s growing deeper and deeper and becoming more of a way for brands to connect with like-minded individuals. Instagram has been a huge vehicle for creatives to find talent. Based on the number of followers one has, a brand might want to partner up with you to potentially shoot their campaign or even their social platforms so they can connect with your followers. It’s also a great way to show a more casual, personal side to you and your brand. Your social platform should be curated just like your website. It’s important to make sure that it still speaks to the brand that you’re selling. I love and recommend using a website called Hoot Suite to repurpose your content on multiple platforms. This allows you to keep a consistent schedule.
There are many companies popping up with portfolio websites. Being that these sites allow you to search by specialty and location, back when I was a photo editor, I used to look to portfolio sites frequently. Some examples would be Found, Photo Serve, Le Book, and At Edge.
It’s no secret that getting meetings with creatives is difficult. To help with that, more and more portfolio reviews are beginning to pop up. Technically, these events are paid meetings, but they are targeted to connect you with artist reps, magazines, advertising agencies or direct clients that you want to be working with.
Kudo emails are simply a personal email to a creative giving them a compliment on a project that they are working on or have worked on in the past. They read something like this:
I saw your recent X ad. It’s really cool creative work like that, that keeps me inspired to do what I do. Thanks so much.
It would be smart to have a link to your website at the bottom of the email with the hopes that they will click onto your website. Our hope is that unsolicited compliments lead to engagement. Engagement gives you the opportunity to build trust, which ultimately leads to a relationship, which ultimately leads to work.
Search engine optimization is critical for clients with the focus of corporate or direct business-to-business work. Google’s getting smarter and smarter and more tactics and platforms are becoming more needed. I recommend working with a wonderful SEO consultant by the name of Blake Discher if you’re interested in going further or utilizing this as a key marketing tool. Clients who focus more on advertising and editorial will find that SEO plays a bigger role but should not be the sole choice for a marketing channel.
Contests are a great way to gain third-party endorsement. PHOTOSHELTER produces some amazing free education that addresses many different subject matters. I would suggest downloading the guide they produced on photo contests you should enter. Then take it a step further and research the ones that are relevant to you.
In my opinion, what distinguishes one photographer from another in today’s marketplace are three things:
1. Having a cohesive vision and understanding your physical and emotional brand
2. Marketing yourself through multiple channels
3. Engaging and establishing strong relationships – (probably the most important)
Most importantly think about where you are and what works for your budget and timeline. There are many resources to help you along with the implementation of your marketing but it all starts with you and your VISION.
Jennifer Kilberg’s unique insight into the photo industry is a result of her extensive experience and understanding of all aspects of photography since joining the industry in 1996. In 2004, Jennifer started FluidVision Inc. and has worked with a diverse international client base of photographers and illustrators of all styles and specialties. As a strong communicator, Jennifer enjoys working with all types of personalities, and her loyal client base is a testament to her ability to build long-term relationships. Jennifer has worked with Agency Access clients since 2009 in both Campaign Manager programs and other types of consultations.
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