Monday, May 2, 2011

Marketing // How? What? When? Where?

Recently, I downloaded and read a white paper from Photoshelter, "WHAT BUYERS WANT FROM PHOTOGRAPHERS" (Click to download it yourself).

A few things I found surprising and then interesting:

- 37% of buyers said email was the best method for capturing their attention, compared to just 10% who said direct mail was the best approach,

- Only 33% of buyers use social media to find photographers

- 74% of buyers DO NOT follow any photographer's blogs

First off, while I think these reports are super useful and insightful, one must digest with a pinch of salt. Tastes vary wildly in this magical world of photography and art buying and so must our recipes for marketing.

1. Lets start off by looking at the first point. Just 10% of buyers think direct mail is the best way of reaching them. I have to say I felt a little disheartened by this. Not only do I love designing, producing and mailing my print promos but I definitely prefer it as the method that my audience consumes my imagery. Don't get me wrong, I love the iPad and big screens but there is something a little more evocative and sensory about touching, smelling and seeing the printed piece.

I have read on countless blogs and heard from buyers that many still LOVE receiving printed promos. My guess, email when on target and done well is super convenient and quick. You can view it, check out the website with one click, bookmark it if you like it, delete and move on if you don't. Email is quick and easy. That said print promos have a chance to stand out, make a much bigger statement and leave a lasting impression. Print still has a place in my marketing toolbox.

WHAT TO DO: I'm not going to change a thing. I think email and print promo's have their place. They both need to be used strategically and they both serve a unique function. Any marketing plan would be weaker if you removed print promos.

MOVING FORWARD: I am going to be even more diligent about refining my print promo mailing lists. Print promos are expensive so it is vital that they reach the right people.

2. Number two, only 33% of buyers use social media to find new photographers. This surprised me a little at first. My first thought was that perhaps this represents a generational gap of some sort. What would these number look like in 5 years as younger buyers rise through the ranks? Another thought I had relates to the supermarket shopper. Finding photographers via social media is a little like going shopping on the highstreet. You know what you want but you have to search past loads of irrelevant shops to get it. The supermarket on the other hand has everything you want in one convenient place. As a buyer if you know your are looking for new talent then heading somewhere dedicated to photographers, well that's just way more convenient.

WHAT TO DO: I think it is important to recognize that social media is complex and subtle. It is not going to make or break ones business. That depends on whether we make good images. But, social media is powerful if we wield it strategically. Ultimately, social media thrives when we share, talk and engage on things we are passionate about.

MOVING FORWARD: 33% or 100% social media has a place in the marketing toolbox.

3. 74% of buyers do not follow any photographers' blogs. What!? Now this really did surprise me. Again it also made me think about a possible generational gap...? But without demographic data from the report it would be hard to verify this. On the other hand it also important to note that Art Buyers have a million and one things to do, one of which is keep a breast of new talent. Perhaps it is not surprising then they aren't spending most of their time following our blog postings, as much as we would like to think the opposite.

WHAT TO DO: Writing a blog is more than just marketing. It provides an outlet, a chance to share, a platform to express ones self and try new things. Blogs build community, support networks and a chance to engage with people who would otherwise remain unknown to each other. I love writing my blog and I love reading other people's blogs. It is a little disheartening to read that so few buyers follow photographer blogs, but...

MOVING FORWARD:...that doesn't mean I'm going to stop blogging.

Lastly, here is a BLOG POSTING from a "buyer" actually a Creative Director at REI, Jason Sutherland who has just started a cool blog theme on photographer print promos. I was thrilled that he included one of my promos as his first posting on the theme and even more thrilled to see that my promo's are getting noticed. Its nice to know that they are going out into the world and meeting friends.


David Peacock said...

I had similar musings as I read, Nick.

What do you find to be most effective? Still the phone call?

I'm hearing consultants and agents preaching the phone call, but then I'm hearing ABs waxing lyrical about how jobs mostly get negotiated by email these days.

There's so much conflicting commentary out there.

Nick Hall said...

I hear you David! I wish there was a magic answer. Phone call? Email promo? Awards? Youtube bio video?

As my geography teach always said, it takes a little bit of everything...