Recently, we headed up to Boston to join the American Society of Picture Professionals’ for their Reinvention Weekend. We loved the chance meet up with some PhotoShelter members like Kymri Wilt of Mira Terra Images, Mike Kahn of Green Stock Media, Jerry Monkman of EcoPhototography, and Robert Folz of Visuals Unlimited.
“Reinvention” when the industry around you is in constant flux was a perfect topic for the gathering. To share some marketing insights, Allen joined a panel that included Ilise Benun of Marketing Mentor, who helps creative professionals get serious about their marketing and branding. We found her commentary so valuable, we asked Ilise to join us for a quick interview.
To hear Ilise’s guidance on branding yourself, you can listen to the full 15 minute interview here:
Or, have a peek at the following excerpt from our Q&A:
Q: Self Promotion is an area where photographers generally feel uncomfortable. Is there any way to do marketing that might be less uncomfortable?
A: Most photographers just want to take pictures and don’t like what it takes to get the work and the clients (i.e. self promotion). Many also believe the myth that self promotion is the same as bragging. But in my book, The Art of Self Promotion, I debunk that myth, explaining that self promotion is actually not even about you.
Instead it’s about your market. I like to say that “everything flows from the market” – meaning that if you understand the needs of your market and you use language, positioning and other tactics to address those needs, more work is likely to come your way. In fact, at the ASPP panel in Boston, we learned that art buyers sometimes choose their vendors based on personality over portfolio, which means you have to focus on the interactions as much as the pictures. That could even mean “friending” them on Facebook!
Q: In Boston you spoke about evolving your brand to become the “go-to” for a specific market, and how that allows you to charge a premium. Can you explain what’s necessary to make this evolution happen?
A: You really have to make a commitment to a market, even at the risk of alienating others. First research to make sure the market is viable, that there is a need for what you sell. Then start reinforcing your specialty everywhere it counts, until your name becomes associated with that specialty and you become the first name that comes to mind for that type of work. And don’t expect this to happen overnight. It takes time, years sometimes.
Q: We see a lot of photographers at a loss for how to brand themselves, and more specifically how to differentiate themselves in a sea of photographers with a similar specialty. Do you have advice to help photographers break through with more unique ways to describe their businesses?
A: First of all, never say, “I am a photographer.” Back to the idea that everything flows from the market, frame the answer to “What do you do?” from the listener’s point of view. Think instead about how what you do affects them.
For example, “I help pharmaceutical companies put a human face on their science,” brings the value of what you do to life.
Or, “I work with fashion companies to create Park Avenue images on midtown budgets so they can reach Main Street,” (which I borrowed from a client who is a video producer) responds to what they are looking for so much more than any label you can put on yourself. Make sense?
What about you? How do you say what you do? Or how could you say it to be more responsive to your markets? Any ideas?
Ilise will be joining Allen on a new marketing panel for ASPP New York, Wednesday May 26th. Don’t be a Needle. Be The Haystack. Join us to talk marketing, branding, and social media.
More about Ilise Benun
Ilise Benun is a national speaker and founder of Marketing-Mentor.com and the Creative Freelancer Conference (with HOW Magazine) which will be held June 5-6 in Denver CO. She works closely with creative professionals who are serious about growing their business and is the author of several books including, “The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing,” “Stop Pushing Me Around: A Workplace Guide for the Timid, Shy and Less Assertive,” “Public Relations for Dummies,: and “The Art of Self Promotion. Sign up for her free Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor here: www.marketing-mentortips.com
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