In order of priority, here is what I think are the most effective ways for a photographer to generate more business.
1) Produce current projects, complete estimates
2) Create new imagery
3) Make connections; new and old
In other words, if a photographer isn’t creating estimates or new imagery, the single most effective way to generate new business is to get out there and meet people.
I say all the time that when a photographer presents their portfolio or reaches out to a new client to share work on their own, the effect on their reach is exponential. An agent cannot effect this same change on his/her own. This is not because they are not capable, but because there is a different value in the photographer being present; a value that no agent could provide on their own.
Well, two weeks ago, Chris Crisman, Richard Schultz and Ron Berg proved me right. They spent 3 days in NY attending the At Edge Face to Face event and the Fotoworks portfolio review. Combined, they met with 64 art buyers, creative directors and photo editors. How else but through these events could any of them (or even me?) meet with that many people in such a short amount of time? It was a powerful and very effective way to spend the week.
Here are some insights and comments from the week:
• They have a stronger insight into their work. They heard first hand what people like (and don’t) and have experienced for themselves the connections that people make to their work. And, they have heard for themselves the feedback that we have been sharing with them already. Now, when we talk about imagery and strategy they have an insight they would not otherwise have had.
• They made or enhanced their own connections. Now, these industry colleagues know them. They engaged with their work, looked them in the eyes and connected with them on personal level. The photographers can keep the connections alive on their own now and begin to foster a relationship when relevant.
• They heard what other people in the industry think of their reps first hand. Our reputation is strong and it is nice for them to hear that for themselves.
• They have added a layer of recognition to their work. Our office creates a marketing plan that focuses on us promoting their work over the course of the year. By attending these events on their own, they added an extra layer of recognition and connection; one that we could not have provided on our own. This personal connection is invaluable and the effect they have caused is exponential.
• They have heard what other people in the industry think of their group. This is important because as a group we share ideas, co-market and refer projects to each other. Knowing that you are in good company always feel good. And, in some instances, the photographers referred each other to the creatives they met.
It is also worth noting that a few creatives questioned why these particular photographers would be attending seeing that they could meet with the art buyers anytime on their own. While a one on one, longer meeting is always preferable, the idea that Fotoworks and At Edge gather the top level creatives in one space for a set amount of time is very important. It would be too challenging for each of our photographers to make all the calls necessary to yield 20 or so appointments each. And, realistically, could they all happen over 3 days? Never. These events provide the most efficient way for our group to take time away from their studios. Without the organization and the structure of the events, Ron, Chris and Richard would not have made one of those connections last week.
Overall, the investment that these photographers made in their future, their business and their relationship with us was well worth the money they spent. I know how hard it is to be away from family, to push aside projects and to leave those emails behind. And, for this we are so very thankful. The time and effort they put into this week did not go unnoticed and we know it will pay off for them in dividends.