Monthly Archives: April 2015

Still Self-Conscious about Self-Promotion?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?  Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” This from the book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles, by author Marianne Williamson.

Upon that reflection, you know that personal connections are more important than ever for a creative professional to find and keep clients, especially for photographers. Due to the intimate nature of the photo assignment process, clients really need to get to know and trust you. But many photographers still don’t have the commitment to put themselves out there and let their “light shine”. In the workshops I give, I still find photographers telling me they are hesitant to put themselves forward, to let their “light shine”. This is of course exactly what you need to do to promote your business. Maybe you are good at managing your business, handy at social networking and even doing brilliant creative work but are you still “playing small”?

Many negative emotional connotations typically come to mind when thinking about self-promotion, all of which unfortunately keep most creative professionals from feeling comfortable and confident when doing self-promotion. I say, leave your emotions at the front door and act confident! Work on pushing yourself past any discomfort, make a good first impression and make your personal connections with clients.

Here are a few of some of the best pieces of advice on this topic I have collected from people I call our “creative explorers”:

Jeffrey Thayer: I tell myself that no one is going to hire me if they don’t know I exist. I remember I need to run promotions when I am busy or I won’t be soon. I know that just because I sent an email campaign, or postcard, or whatever it may be out, it does not mean I am ever done. I need to continue to do it on a regular schedule. The people I want to work with need to see that I am working on new images and staying on top of my game.

Andy Batt: When we promote, we see results 6-12 months later. When we don’t promote – we see the (lack of) results 6-12 months later. It’s very rare the promotion directly turns something around – it’s almost always indirect and on a much longer timeline than you would think (or want). It’s a discipline to promote – if we’re busy, it’s easy to ignore, and if we’re slow, it’s easy to put it off.

Therese Gietler: I think the best first impression, aside from what your marketing does, is being able to speak intelligently about your own work. When someone asks “what do you shoot?” you need to have an answer immediately and confidently. “We shoot people in motion, performers in many categories, like athletes, and dancers and musicians”. Not “um, well, I shoot a lot of stuff, it’s really hard to describe, um” (you’ve heard this a million times). Photo clients want to know you are confident.

Rick Becker: To make a good first impression to clients in my studio, I just try to be happy. I enjoy my job, I enjoy photography. I am happy they are here. I will do whatever it takes to make a great photograph and make my clients look good. I make them as comfortable as possible mentally and physically so they can feel I have experience and that I know what to do (or that I will figure it out).

Andy Batt, photographer and Therese Gietler, producer

Rick Becker, photographer

Jeffrey Thayer, photographer

What Your Clients Really Want!

Technical ability is assumed in today’s marketplace for creative services. It is seen clearly in your work, but there are a lot of technically competent professionals available! How do you know what clients are really looking for when they hire?  Try out these hiring factors on your work and make sure they are represented in your portfolio, web site and promo pieces.

  1. Make the client look good. This is a very difficult subject for clients to discuss openly. Your best bet is to be aware of how the project will make them look good to their peers or their boss. This awareness is a potential competitive edge and can create added value to your creative services.  To prove your awareness, add related case study anecdotes when creating your marketing materials. Tell the stories of your work with other clients or your work on a public service project. Help the client become the hero. Help them hire you.
  2. Every client’s dream creative project is the one that eases their frustrations and meets their challenges. Your marketing should address these issues because every client is thinking of it whether they will admit it or not.  In addition, it provides a counterpoint to the client’s objection, “We are happy with our supplier”.  There is always something that someone has done to frustrate the client or make a project difficult.  How can you do better?
  3. You need to be flexible. This means you will be easy to work with and solve problems, not make more than your clients already have. The problem with this-and many of these factors-is that they are about the working relationship and not about your images.  How will the prospective client get to know you are flexible until they’ve worked with you but they won’t give you a job until they know you are flexible?  The answer is to demonstrate flexibility in every contact you have with a client.  Plan it into your marketing strategy. Add case studies and testimonials to your marketing materials. By the way, flexibility does not mean dropping your price to get the job. See previous blog post on pricing!
  4. You need to work within the client’s deadline and budget. Again the case study approach in your marketing materials, sales presentations and client testimonials is the best way to demonstrate this very important factor. Think about it, can a client tell the project came in at budget and by deadline by just looking at your work? No!  You’ve heard the old saying, “The portfolio speaks for itself”?  It does speak to your creative and technical ability but does not speak to any of these other factors.
  5. Being able to trust you and know your work together is confidential is very important. You can demonstrate your trustworthiness with your marketing presentations. Some ways to do this are: not talking badly about other clients you have, not putting down your competition, and not having other client’s work lying around in full view when the prospective clients visit your studio.

For many clients, you need to show the how you will help them get their job done-better, quicker, faster-by hiring you. A clear competitive edge can be gained when you can demonstrate any of these above factors to your prospective clients.

What Is YOUR Marketing Message?

Creative professionals often use the terms direction and marketing message interchangeably. It may also be called target your market but all three terms mean finding new clients and new revenues. In today’s economy it has become a normal business practice to target more than one market for your services. In order to identify a marketing message for your work, first answer this question: Do you want to do more of the same work but for better clients with bigger budgets?  Or, do you want to do different types of creative projects and take on an entirely new direction?  This will help guide your next step and the types of clients you target. Once you have answered this most basic question, then you go to the next step.  Most would ask the question, “What do I do?” and that is the wrong question when marketing your services. You must always market for what you want to do more of, not what you do every day. If you ask the question, “What do I do?” the answer is “photography” or “illustration” and these are too broad a message to target a client base (and create marketing materials). To get a more focused marketing message, you must ask yourself the question, “What do I want to do more of?”  When you answer this more specific question, it will guide you to your new clients and your marketing message. There are four ways to answer this question and target a marketing message for your creative services.

By a Style of Work: Style is based on how you perceive the world and the way you approach creative problems. Style is based on the way you solve issues for the clients with your own brand of individual creativity.  Marketing a style is very personal; it is how you see the world. It is not specific to any subject but crosses over many subjects and different industries. Also, the work tends to be used by high-end clients (bigger budgets) and clients in cutting edge industries such as editorial or entertainment and advertising clients. It takes either a very secure or risk-tolerant client to hire for a personal style marketing message instead of taking the safe, conservative route.

By a Specific Industry: This is based on who the client is and it is one of the most common types of marketing message because it is so easy to identify potential clients.  The beauty of this marketing message is that it builds on itself.  For example, once you have done work for a financial services client, you can use your experience and expertise in the industry to market to other financial services companies. Another nice benefit is that the usage of your work is very diverse. Every industry has a great variety needs for creative services.

By the Use of the Work: This marketing message is based on what the creative is used for or the usage. There are many categories of usage for you to choose from and to target. For example: corporate communications, web sites, packaging, advertising, editorial, paper products and books to name a few uses. These are good examples of targeting your marketing message because it helps you clearly identify the potential clients. It also is extremely helpful when buying your marketing lists. With this marketing message you are not locked into any particular industry. For example, industries that use packaging photography/design/illustration all include such diverse products as food, beverage, pharmaceutical and beauty products.

By the Subject: You can target your marketing message based on the subject of your image.  This is particular to photographers and a very popular marketing message because your potential client base is readily identified. Examples include: automotive, people, food, architecture, products, locations and landscapes. By targeting the subject, you will also find great diversity in the use of your work and your clients will range from advertising to editorial and everything in between. The one thing in common is the subject of the photography.

It is extremely important when developing your marketing messages that you set up a specific target with a broad client base to get enough work. If you target a specific marketing message too narrowly, you won’t find enough work and you won’t be maximizing the potential of this profit center approach. For example, when you target with a specific style (technique or approach) your base should have a broad range of industries represented. When you target a market by type of industry, you’ll find that the broad base will be represented by the various uses of your creative services. You don’t want to be too specialized. For example, if you just focused on web sites for entertainment industry clients, you are too narrowly focused.  You would need to broaden that to working on all the different services an entertainment firm has for you.