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  1. #1
    billschwab's Avatar
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    Self-Promotional Campaigns - What's Your Plan?

    I get asked time after time about self promotion and how to be seen, recognized and collected. And, with the recent eBay selling thread touching so much on self-promotion, I thought it might be good to hear the stories of others either doing so, or planning to do so. I had even thought of approaching Sean about the possibility of doing an APUG article on the subject. However, with the recent thread it seems that it would be far more beneficial to get more takes on the subject. I am sure that collectively we could write a pretty useful thread on this subject.

    So... here's the deal. High cost or on a budget, what do you think the ideal plan would be? What has worked for you? What has not worked for you? And if you could design a dream scenario, what would it be? How do you plan to get your work seen by galleries who are inundated each day by photographers with high hopes?

    From the other thread I realize there are those out there that have no intention of selling their work or trying to get known. I'm not trying here to exclude anyone and I do think this could be helpful for everyone.

    Thanks in advance for any input.

    Bill
    Last edited by billschwab; 12-29-2006 at 03:25 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: spelling... Ugh

  2. #2
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I think an essential component of any marketing campaign must include a bit of a personal touch - people want to feel like they are getting something special from the artist. I have always included postcards mailed to previous customers as one part of any promotional campaign. Modern Postcard is a great source for these - they have easy-to-work-with standards and templates you can download, and they offer some sizes and styles that are rather attention-grabbing (the Sumo size, and the bi-fold postcard formats among others). There are others who are cheaper, but their quality may not be as good, or their turnaround as accurate.

  3. #3

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    direct mail to direct to the web site

    personal direct calls to show the printed portfolio

    word of mouth

    luck

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com

  4. #4
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    It's important to distinguish the kind of photography business you are promoting.

    For the portrait work I do, nothing in the world works like word of mouth and a referral program. What I do NOT see working (for myself or any of the students I've taught, which last year was around 400) is direct mail and print ads. It takes many rounds of print/mail advertising to generally yield anything, and it is extremely expensive.

    Personally, I went from not being in business to have a very full-time portrait business in the space of two weeks, due almost entirely to a big Starbucks display and an encorporated referral program.

    - CJ

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheryl Jacobs View Post
    Personally, I went from not being in business to have a very full-time portrait business in the space of two weeks, due almost entirely to a big Starbucks display and an encorporated referral program.

    - CJ
    Gosh. That illustrates how quickly situations can change. What was your degree of "readiness" when that happened?

    Tom.

  6. #6
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheryl Jacobs View Post
    It's important to distinguish the kind of photography business you are promoting.

    For the portrait work I do, nothing in the world works like word of mouth and a referral program. What I do NOT see working (for myself or any of the students I've taught, which last year was around 400) is direct mail and print ads. It takes many rounds of print/mail advertising to generally yield anything, and it is extremely expensive.

    Personally, I went from not being in business to have a very full-time portrait business in the space of two weeks, due almost entirely to a big Starbucks display and an encorporated referral program.

    - CJ
    Cheryl -

    I think the lack of success with direct mail is in part because of the business you're in. Doing portrait work, people want a much more personal touch than they would if they were looking to buy a piece of artwork, or hire an advertising photographer to shoot still-lifes. They really want a "personal relationship" with the photographer, and nothing says impersonal like a direct mail advertisement when it comes to personal services.

  7. #7
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    Flying, there are many more variables than that, actually. Part of the challenge is getting a quality mailing list. If you buy a list from a mailing list company, you can get great quality or absolutely terrible quality, just depending on how efficiently they compile their data and how accurately they sort it. If your mailing list has come from those signing up to receive mailings, it's far more productive, however you are right back to the question of how to get people to sign up. If you are an advert photog and are specifically targeting art directors and companies who hire advert photogs regularly, you will likely have more luck than a portrait photog will.

    I don't believe it's the personal touch issue that keep people from calling portrait photogs off direct mail -- I think it's the simple fact that you cannot know someone's taste via a company's sort list. That, and the simple fact that 'junk mail' is incredibly irritating to most people, and they'll throw it away without a glance.

    High-end portrait photogs also have to consider whether they want to market in the same way that Kiddie Kandids and the other portrait mills work. It will almost always come across to people as cheap. Direct mail would absolutely not appeal to my clientele in any way.

    - CJ

  8. #8
    Cheryl Jacobs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kershaw View Post
    Gosh. That illustrates how quickly situations can change. What was your degree of "readiness" when that happened?

    Tom.
    Tom, I was definitely not ready for the response. LOL. I got buried alive, and raised my prices very sharply to slow it down a bit. It was incredibly effective.

    Here are a few things to consider when you're thinking of putting up a display for the purpose of generating business:

    - Who frequents the venue? In my case, the Starbucks was in a very affluent neighborhood on the edge of a major shopping district. Lots of moms with disposable income who were generally there because they had time to kill. Also, lots of businessmen having casual meetings.

    - Where will your work be hung? It's not terribly effective to hang prints where people are waiting in line to order coffee, for instance. They're juggling purses and children, thinking about their order, pulling out wallets, etc. Too many things on their minds to really take notice of prints, let alone pull a business card. Rather, I chose a show where I had an 18-ft wall in the seating area, where people were sipping and socializing, often with other moms.

    - What incentive do people have to call you? I placed business postcards there with a new client credit -- not a huge discount, but enough of a push to get people to pick up the phone.

    - Do you have the freedom to show the kind of work you REALLY want to do, to truly showcase your style? This is particularly important for portrait / people shooters, because people are paying you to produce the kind of work that caused them to want to book you in the first place. I was very careful to hang not only my most 'me' prints, but also a sequenced "slide show" of 30 small prints with text under them, explaining my philosophy and why I work the way I do. By the time people read the slideshow across the wall from left to right, they knew a whole lot about my work. At the end of the slideshow were my referral cards. It was very effective.

    Anyway.

    - CJ

  9. #9
    MurrayMinchin's Avatar
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    Cheryl neglects to point out that having an amazingly beautiful ability to recognize those fleeting moments which symbolize a childs life experience, and to put them on film, probably accounts for 98% of her success. The other 2% was 1/2 getting the gonads to go for it, and 1/2 picking the perfect venue and presentation to launch from. Me-thinks her work would have percolated to the top, no matter what

    Thanks Bill...this thread has had me in hyper-pondering mode all day!!!!!!!

    Murray
    _________________________________________
    Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.

  10. #10
    johnnywalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin View Post
    Cheryl neglects to point out that having an amazingly beautiful ability to recognize those fleeting moments which symbolize a childs life experience, and to put them on film, probably accounts for 98% of her success. The other 2% was 1/2 getting the gonads to go for it, and 1/2 picking the perfect venue and presentation to launch from. Me-thinks her work would have percolated to the top, no matter what

    Thanks Bill...this thread has had me in hyper-pondering mode all day!!!!!!!

    Murray
    In that case Murray, Cheryl would be what is called in China a "big potato" (an important person). When transporting potatoes in wagons or trucks over rough roads, the big ones jiggle to the top.
    Cheryl will probably not want to use this useful bit of information in her advertising however.
    If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
    Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284

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