How to Find Business Portrait Clients
Let's dive into marketing a little bit. So, we're not gonna get into this too deep 'cause there's a lot. It's really dependent on your own market, where you live, you know, the population, what's available. I live in Omaha, it's just under a million people, decent size town. Lot of businesses there, from TD Ameritrade to Berkshire Hathaway to companies that have a lot of employees that require business portraits and companies that deal with them and their suppliers who also need photography. When I got into this, I made a list. Who needs business portraits? And I don't mean names of people, I mean which industries, which businesses. It can be your individuals, like your real estate agents, your insurance agents, people like that, it can be companies such as your law firms, your hospitals, banks, any of that type of stuff. Those are all people that need portraits. It can also be working with an agency, like an advertising agency. So, with your three types of clients, you have individual...
s, companies, and agencies. And to say a little bit more about the agencies, it might be a local ad agency that has a law firm or a bank as a client and they do all their marketing. Well, that bank probably doesn't have someone in there who makes photography decisions, so by knowing someone at that ad agency, they might have that bank, they might have a hospital, they might have another client for you so once you form that relationship, they can hire you for different jobs because then they know you're the portrait photographer. So, that's definitely a good in and it just depends on your market, again. It also depends on the size of the business. With individuals, I find real estate agents and people like that, kinda handle that themselves because they're paying for it out of pocket. It's just a single individual who needs a photo. With larger companies, that's where it gets a little tricky. One of the things I do is, I'll call the company. Let's say I'll call a bank and I'll say, alright, I just am curious who's in charge of your marketing? Is it in-house or do you guys use a local agency? And a lot of times, you're just talking to a receptionist and they'll say, oh, well I'll give you the, I'll connect you to our marketing person and they might not even hire the photographer, but I've gotten a lot of info from those people as far as who to contact and it's kinda one of those things that's a little nerve-racking, cold-calling people because they're never super pumped to talk to you. But at the same time, it's one of the necessary evils of getting out there, getting your name out there and finding out who to contact so that way you can get hired. And like I said, with agencies, you always know they're gonna be needing photographers because that's their job is hiring creatives. The more agencies you can get in with in your area, the better because they're always switching up clients, they're always getting new people, picking up new accounts and things like that. So, I'm pretty good friends with a couple local agencies and they'll give me these business portrait jobs or sometimes larger campaigns and things like that which is definitely a bonus on the commercial side. And how can you get their attention? So, let's say you're just starting as I was in this when I moved to Omaha. When I moved from New York to Omaha in 2013, I didn't know anybody in Omaha, almost literally nobody and I definitely didn't know anybody to get their attention for business portraits so one of the things I did was, I went through Google and I made a list. As I said, who needs business portraits? Law firms, so I went on Google, I looked up every law firm in Omaha. I went to their websites, it was a really exciting day, and went to see what photography they're using, how many people work there? So that way, when you contact them, you have a little bit of info and you know what to expect. If it's just a law firm of three people or if it's a 200 attorney firm that's more of a national level then you know what you're getting into when you make the call. So, that way you're just informed so you can sound educated. Another group would be hospitals. They have a wide range of needs. A lot of times they work with ad agencies because there's so much there. So, you just need to go through, I went through Google, looked up all those different things. Local insurance agents, realtors, dentist offices, I've done dental portraits all the time, so any industry where you would look on their LinkedIn or their Google listing or their website and see business portraits, that's your potential client and it's just reaching out to them and getting that information. The next thing you do, once you reach out and get that information, I remember, more recently, with a pretty decent size law firm, I made the connection, I made the phone call, I got the email of their marketing person, I emailed her. She said this is great, we're actually looking to launch a new website at the end of the year so we are looking for a photographer, or we're about to, so can you come in? Well, I offered, I said how 'bout I come in for a meeting? I have a little portfolio of all my business portrait work. I have a portfolio for all my work that's just my general commercial work but then I have a specific little book that I take in for these type of meetings. It's all work that pertains to their type of business. It's just a little 10 by 10 booklet from WHCC that I print out, bring in with me, show them things that are relevant to their level on the local scale. And I tell them what I can offer them. It's like, here's what I do, here's where I see your website. If they can show me any of the info what they're trying to do with their portraits, what they expect, I can kinda help them problem-solve. The reason I started doing these individual group photos, which is just photographing everybody independent and then Photoshopping them together is because the woman at the law firm mentioned, we have a lot of turnover, but we always need these group photos for our newsletters and other things. However, rounding up 30 attorneys for the litigation section isn't the easiest thing because people are on vacation, people are busy with work, people are in and out of the office, but we're always having to update that photo because of turnover. So, that's where I said, well, how 'bout we take them individually and Photoshop them together and I'll show you how I do, how I photograph them later and how I light and keep it consistent because if you're gonna photograph individuals and put them into a group, there's things you need to think about and we'll get into that a little later. The last thing I do is, I have promos. I use different services to just make up postcards. A lot of times I just use these press printed postcards from White House. I'll print them out, I'll drop them in the mail to any of those people who I looked up on Google earlier, just in case they didn't get my email. Now they're gonna see it in print where those photos pop up. They might look at it for two seconds and throw it out, but it only takes one client to pay for that entire campaign, so it's definitely worth it and it's just a way for me to get my name out there. So, those are kind of the three things I do. Email, getting a meeting is important 'cause you can get that face-to-face. And then, sending out promos, little reminders that you're still here or letting them know you exist in the first place and that you are available for business portraits. So, that's a brief, quick intro to marketing but depending on where you live, there might be tons of clients available, there might be a few. Maybe you need to expand your reach a little bit, but there's definitely people out there and there's always business portraits being taken.