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Marketing Plan

Lesson 12 from: The Business of Commercial Photography: The Survival Guide

John Keatley

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Lesson Info

12. Marketing Plan

Next Lesson: Marketing Budget

Lesson Info

Marketing Plan

So let's talk specifically about what should go into your marketing plan. First you want to identify ideal clients and industries that you want to be working with. Again you gotta know where it is that you're trying to go in order to set out a course to get there. You want to begin to build recognition. So this would be possibly a newsletter, maybe you start off saying I'm going to do a newsletter every two months. Or again whatever feels most comfortable to you, whatever you feel like you can actually back up. This might have to tie into you committing to do more personal work too, so that you have the work that you're going to need to send out. But it would be good to start putting down, committing to doing a newsletter on a consistent basis. I would put that on a calendar or whatever you need to do to see it, to commit to it, and know that there's no backing out of that. This should be your best work. This shouldn't be what you've been hired to do necessarily. Again this should be y...

our best work that you want people to see and think about you for. And then when you send out that newsletter you want to follow up with a postcard. I'm not saying you have to do it every time, but a great strategy, if you can afford it, is to send out a postcard. And then decide either the people that click or the people that, oh sorry the newsletter, the people that click or the people that open it, you send them a direct mailing of some sort. You want to set up a schedule for doing face to face meetings. And this can look different for everyone. When we first hired a consultant when we started doing this, our plan was we were going to send out a newsletter every two months. And then once a month I was going to try to set up one meeting with a new client or a new potential client. And then I'm going to make contact with one existing client. So that's two, you know, in person interactions hopefully, like coffee or portfolio review or whatever it is. When you're setting up, when you're setting up meetings or trying to get a portfolio review or whatever that looks like for you, something to just keep in mind is you can expect on average to maybe get one person to do something out of every 10 people you contact. It might be that you send out 18, you now, emails or calls or whatever that is, and no one gets back to you, but then you might get two or something. But on average one to 10 is kind of what you can expect. So that's even again lower than the whole, you know, three out of 10 or whatever we've been talking about for other actions. But setting up a meeting is much lower. Create reminders to meet with people. Again, put this on your calendar. You can have a dedicated calendar for your marketing schedule for your marketing plan or you can integrate it with your personal account. But whatever it is, I really would encourage you to write it down and commit to something and know when that comes up, it's time to do that, there's no excuses. Yeah? So how do you get people to want to meet you? Like I feel like meeting is a demand on someone's time, so how do you like get them to carve that out for you? That's a good question. First of all, I mean you don't want to demand someone meets with you or force them, but hopefully, hopefully it's you and your work that is intriguing to them. So typically let's say we want to commit, let's say we'll do a portfolio review. That's a great place to start. So you have hopefully a body of work at this point, and you send out an email to someone. And again you want to consider this from their point of view. This is not, I mean it's easy to think about what you think or what you want, but we want to consider who is this that we're communicating with? So what I would recommend is you write someone and you say, hey I hope you're doing well. Or I'm wondering if I could take just five to 10 minutes of your time, I would love to show you some of my work. I'm a huge fan of what you do, and I would love to find a way to work with you at some point. And then you would give them two times that you can meet. Now it's easy to want to say whatever works for you, just let me know kind of thing. That just requires more from them. That requires more time and more effort on their part, so are they going to want to do that? It's the same thing as sending out a postcard and putting it in this thick envelope. They're going to probably ask themselves, I have 10 or I have 100 of these, do I want to open all of these and see what's inside or do I just want to throw them out? So you say I can meet on this day at this time or this time. If they're interested, it becomes very easy for them to be like great, let's do 10 o'clock on Tuesday next week. That works for me. Or if they really do want to meet with you and they aren't available on those times, most of the time they will just present another time to you and then you can say yes, and then that's it. But you don't want to ask a lot of them. These people don't have a lot of time, they're busy. They have jobs, and their job occasionally revolves around working with photographers, but their job is not to just sit around meeting with photographers all day long. So just keep that in mind. So just send a nice, simple email. The other thing is I would include, you know obviously a link to your work, your website or Instagram or whatever that is. But I would include like a small, clear Jpeg image of your work, so that they don't even have to click and go look at a website to see who is this person that I'm talking to. Like you're showing them right there. You're just making it as simple as possible. You're giving someone something that they can respond to. And there's generosity and thoughtfulness in that as well, and I think that makes a big impact. It used to be, and I don't know that this is something where kind of society and technology has changed a little bit, but what we used to do years ago when I started is I would call someone, and I would actually, you hope that they don't answer, but you would just leave a voicemail and say, hi, I hope you're doing well. My name is Jon Keatley, I just wanted to introduce myself really quick and let you know I'm a big fan of your work. I'm going to follow up with an email and see if you have time to meet with me and check out my work. Even if they answer you say hey, hope you're doing well, I just wanted to introduce myself really quick and let you know I'm going to follow up with an email and see if you have time to possibly meet. What you don't want to do in that situation, again we talk a lot about understanding the medium and the people you're talking to. So many people would pick up the phone, they'd get someone on the phone and be like, hey I was wondering if you wanted to meet with me for a portfolio review. They don't have a clue who you are. They don't know, I mean if they want to meet with you, it depends on a number of things. A, if they have time. B, if they're interested in your work, right. Well they can't hear your work on the phone, you know unless you're a vocalist and you want to sing them a song. So you have to, you have to just know what is the phone for. And so it's potentially a way to just be courteous and show them that you get it. But like I'm saying, these days maybe a phone is just, maybe it's not the direction you want to go. So you just do the email thing, present it, and not everyone is going to write back. You don't keep emailing them also. Maybe in a few months if they didn't ever responded, you could try again. But just be really mindful and thoughtful of that approach and how people respond to it. Any other questions? Yeah? I'll pay you back on that one. When I was a producer for a certain stock photography company, the art directors would get all these marketing stuff and they would give it to me, and then I'd have to call back the photographer. And then I would have like two days out of the month where they would have me meet with the photographer, so my question is like how do you make an impact when you're forced to meet with someone other than the person you're trying to meet? Sure. So for me I just had to like collect all that stuff, I didn't really have any directions to give back. I mean I think it goes back again to whether that person hires you directly or not, you're still making an impact on your brand. You're still creating interaction with someone who will or will not speak of you. And they'll speak of you well or not well at all or they'll remember you or maybe they'll decide to distribute your promos you know to the rest of the creative team. I mean that's the kind of stuff that you can't worry about. What you have to do is put yourself in the best possible position to succeed. And you have to do that in so many different ways that we're talking about, you have to create work that is reflective of who you are. You have to put in the time to think about who you want to talk to. You have to take the time to show up and do those meetings, and there's going to be lots of meetings that are humiliating. And there's going to be lots of meetings that are frustrating. And there's going to be times where you're going to come home and be like I'm never doing meetings again, I hate it, I've been there. It's tough, but you have to trust in the process. And again, you have to re-evaluate. There may be times where maybe you say you know what this month or this year meetings are not really healthy for me right now where my head's out or whatever that is. You know life is crazy, messy, so we all have to constantly re-evaluate. But then maybe you get to a point where you say, okay, you know what, I see there is value in meetings and I can do that now. Yeah? We've got a question from online. Howard asks, what if the company you want to meet with isn't geographically available to meet face to face? Would you encourage somebody to do, if they can't just fly to New York to meet with somebody, would you encourage them to do a virtual meeting or? I don't know that a virtual meeting or like Skype or something is necessarily something I would ask for. Unless, I mean that comes into play when a company is wanting to work with you and they need to... Pursuing you. Yeah, it's time to talk about a specific project, but in general I don't think anyone has time or interest to like do that kind of face time. I think it is really important to make a list, if there's a place that you really love, but it's not geographically, you know, near you, maybe you know you wait until you're on vacation. Or maybe you get a job someday that takes you to that town, and you build in an extra day and you try to make that happen. You know again, this goes back to the long term thinking, where I have friends who do personal projects and you know they rather than just spend their money and go out and do it, they sometimes take six years and they wait till they have a job already or something that's taking them to that place, and they double up. And when they're there, then they shoot something. And so it takes longer, but there's nothing wrong with that approach as long as you have the patience. I also think, to go back to that, if you aren't able to meet with them, I think you can still be in contact with them. Face to face isn't everything. None of this stuff that we're talking about is everything, it's just one piece of the puzzle. So if you can't meet with them face to face, that doesn't mean you can't send them a newsletter or you know send them a postcard or send them you know a promo booklet that you created or something like that. You can definitely still get your work in front of them in meaningful ways. Cool. Yes? How do you go about getting the contact information for the specific people that you want to reach out to? Like specifically like their emails, their addresses, and where you'd want to send the postcard and stuff like that. Generally I mean if someone works at an agency or a company or something, it's not that hard to find the physical address if you want to send something. You just put attention to that person. You know same thing with email addresses. You know you can often times you can call the receptionist. That doesn't mean it's always going to work, but you can say, hi I'm a photographer. I'm looking to get my work in front of your art director or creative director, I'm wondering if they have a preferred way of viewing that. You want to be respectful. Sometimes people say I don't want emails or I don't want mailings or whatever. And so you ask if they can give you the email address. There's also services that you can sign up for that provide contacts of people who are in the industry that are looking to connect with other creative people and things like that. So it takes, it takes time and effort, but there's lots of different ways to go about getting that information. I saw someone else's hand, no. Alright so we're going to create reminders that we commit to for these various marketing tools that we're going to be using. Another thing is you want to make sure that you stay close with your existing clients. It is really, really easy, and this was my mindset and I know other photographers feel the same way sometimes. It is you get a job and you shoot the job and it goes really well and you have a great time and they loved the work, it's easy to think like oh, I mean they know about me, right. Like they just hired me, like I don't need to worry about them, they'll come back. That is not the case. You need to market yourself to people you've worked with just as much if not more than people you haven't worked with. It's the same kind of thing again, I can make millions of examples, but sending a personal email to a really close friend to get them to come to your exhibition. Just because they're a close friend doesn't mean they're going to just show up. Like you still have to be intentional about that sort of thing. So don't assume that someone is just like you're the top of list, and they're going to always be calling. You need to let them know that you value them also. That you also want to keep working with them, and also just stay on top of their mind because, you know, whether I've said it directly or not, through all of this, you know, I'm teaching all of you guys here about how to contact these people. Just think about all the people that are constantly contacting all of these art directors and creative directors. Like I've said, they get a lot of stuff so it's hard to get through, so you have to make sure that you really value the people that you already have broken through with. Maybe you got to 20 interactions or 15 with someone, you did that job, it's not like it's, you sit there forever, you have to maintain that image or gut feeling, your reputation with a client. So there's some things also you can consider adding to your marketing plans from the tools we talked about, is blogging, social media. You know, remember, just don't get caught up in shares and likes and all that kind of stuff. Just make sure you're putting your best work out there. Trust in the process. Personal projects I would definitely recommend adding that to your plan. Because remember again, so much of this class is about business, but it's based on the work that you're creating. If you're not creating that work, none of this really matters. So make sure that part of, whether you want to consider it marketing or however you want to consider it, make sure that part of your plan that you're committing to, like you've got you know you want to build 12 sets in a year or whatever. Like write that down, whatever it looks like. For me, I had to write down do a personal project when I first started doing this because I was terrified and I didn't want to commit and it was expensive. And I had a million excuses of why I didn't want to do it, but I knew okay I have to do this. Like it's part of the process, I've thought it all through, I know it's important. I'm not going to let fear get the best of me, like I'm going to do this. And now many years later, if I'm not doing a personal project, I am miserable. Like I just, if anything I'm like trying so hard to like scratch out and like find this five minutes to work on a personal project. It's just become part of who I am and like what I need. I feel like I need it like I need to breathe kind of thing. So until you can get to that point, make sure that you're faking it till you make it essentially.

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Ratings and Reviews

Bonnie Aunchman

John & Creative Live - Thank you - Best. Class. Ever.! This is a GREAT class! If you are a photographer, this is definitely a MUST GET class, but even if you work with photographers as part of a creative team - you have to take this class. (I'm a Photo Stylist) John covers it ALL in this class - it really, truly is a Survival (Success) Guide. John is so detailed, honest, and generous in his knowledge/experience/wisdom in the commercial photography industry in helping you understand the business and really succeed (& stand out). When I see that John is teaching a class on Creative Live - I'm in! (I have his other valuable courses as well)

a Creativelive Student

I was lucky to be part of the studio audience for this course. John is an awesome teacher and did an outstanding job of making sense of a very difficult side of photography for a creative to understand. He shared his 18+ years of experience, including the good and bad he has gone through. The "special guests" alone are worth the cost of this class. John has an amazing team working beside him behind the scenes. Their perspective on his business was priceless!

Joseph Brewster

John gave an enormous amount of insight and practical advice in this comprehensive course. I really enjoyed a course focused more on commercial and editorial rather than wedding and family, which is more common. Great info and great work all around!

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