Up Close & Personal: The Rules of Marketing Haven’t Changed
Photography has gone through many changes in recent years. Most of them dealing with how photography is captured, consumed and distributed. Despite all of the changes this industry is still built on the same principles as before. Shoot what your love and show the work to as many people as possible.
You can find plenty of information online about how to integrate twitter, facebook, tumblr and other social media websites with your photography. Yet for the working professional how much do these sites really benefit your business? Does the time and money invested into these sites really turn a profit?
I moved from Chicago to New York shortly after the Wall Street crash. I had to think outside the box when it came to finding new clients. I have advertised, mailed postcards, emailed and been listed with every major source book. All with very mixed results. These are all great ways to been seen by potential clients but they all have a major downfall. It’s not personal and you are just one among a very large and talented crowd.
The rules for showing your work never changed. I have found the single best way to get new clients is showing my portfolio in person directly to the decision maker. Then finding out which medium they prefer to be followed up with. This is where technology has helped. For many its email or another portfolio showing. While other buyers/art directors may prefer to subscribe to your blog/facebook/twitter page. Regardless of what you choose to follow up with the initial meeting needs to happen in person and you need to make it as personal as possible.
The Internet is a like a giant cocktail party and everyone is talking/commenting/tweeting/re-blogging/liking and you can keep score by how many followers/hits/tweets you receive. Yet how useful is all that information if you arent making any income from it? How useful is it when you dont have any REAL relationships? With the Internet intimacy is lost and the people who are making real connections are doing it the old fashioned way: in person. When was the last time you went took a potential client out to drinks or for lunch?
Like any service industry a lot of it is built on referrals. When you under-promise and over-deliver for a client they are most likely going to tell other people. Most of the work I get is on a referral basis now. One of the most important questions to ask is “How did you hear about me?” If it was from a past client make sure to let them know how much you appreciate the referral.
How do you get started making these in-person meetings? A good rule of thumb is to call five prospects a day every day. I keep a prospecting book and keep track of who I talked to, what we talked about and the last time they saw my book. I adapted this system from leading marketing consultant Keith Ferrazzi. If you need a boost in your marketing motivation I would recommend reading his book Never Eat Alone.
So pound the pavement, work the phones, keep track of photo-networking opportunities (ARC’s photo events calendar is a good place to start), because your potential clients aren’t losing sleep over lack of photographers, and art buyers don’t have their eyes glued to Twitter all day looking for the next big thing. You need to seek them out and show them your work… in-person!
David Paul Larson is a New York City-based fashion photographer creating images for leading magazines and advertising.