For those of you just joining us, welcome to Community Table – a series of blog posts sharing conversations held directly with our community leaders about top of mind industry issues. Community Table was formed from the collective efforts of Matt Nycz and Kate Chase of Brite Productions and Heather Elder and Lauranne Lospalluto of Heather Elder Represents with the idea that there is nothing more powerful in our industry than education.
To see last week’s post, the Appetizer portion, and read the introduction to this series, please do link here.
As a reminder, each Conversation Starter was directed to one person with a general discussion ensuing. We decided this was the best way to present the discussion, to share the experience as close as possible to how it actually happened to bring you all the to the table with us.
The first question in the Main Course portion of our series was addressed to Patti O’Halloran of The Designory. It addressed which marketing options are the most effective. Since she loves receiving eBlasts and promo cards so much she started the marketing discussion off with this topic and, as expected, opinions and insights abounded. Lisa Matthews of Team One joined in and 15 minutes later we had covered emails, iPhone apps, website design, personalization, the pros and cons of photo books and where the creatives are spending their time.
Art buyers love photography and looking at images and want nothing more than to see great work and get a beautiful promo they can pin up on their wall. What emerged from this oft-debated topic was not consensus, but rather differing opinions about a subject of which art buyers are extremely passionate. Rather than big surprises, we found instead shifting tides and a few trends, but overall a true love of good imagery and very positive feedback about all marketing efforts. It’s about breaking through the clutter, with images, medium and a personal touch that is, in the end, what they want and need their advertising campaigns to do.
CONVERSATION STARTER #4 : Marketing Over the Years
Patti O’Halloran, The Designory
Marketing over the years has gotten more complicated and more expensive for photographers. Not everyone can afford to participate in every option. And, not every photographer can participate in events such as Le Book. What advice do you have for a photographer that has a limited budget? Understanding that it is a combination of many tools that will make up a marketing plan, which ones do you see as the most valuable?
CONVERSATION STARTER #5: Emailer Controversy
Lisa Matthews, Team One
Over the last year or so, there have been many strong voices in the argument for and against email blasts. We of course aren’t looking to stir that up again, but wondering if rather than send individual emails for each photographer every month, would you prefer that a rep group send one email with new work and announcements from each photographer; like a newsletter? Would you take the time to read it or honestly will it be too much to digest?
Here are how Patti and Lisa got the conversation going:
“I love eBlasts because I can multi-task – be on the phone and look at work as it comes into my inbox,” started Patti. “I polled all the art buyers in the office and they love them as well.” (Great to hear) “I also love the postcard. One strong image. If it’s a nice image and something I haven’t seen before, it goes up on the wall.”
And something that can’t be emphasized enough, “Most important is an easy to use website that allows me to quickly create a PDF to email to someone else—we do screen grabs of everything,” continued Patti. “Sites with too many bells and whistles don’t work. The simpler the better. I just want to see the work and pull what I need for my creatives or an iPhone app that allows this—if it’s in your pocket, that’s amazing.”
Jigisha picked up the discussion about mailers with the suggestion that the image and medium selected for the mailer can make all the difference. “The direct mail can be more enjoyable, special, and it should be really nice so we’ll want to put it up on the wall, either conceptually smart or really beautiful. Their choice of image for a promo is a big deal.
People are doing beautiful promos right now. They’re making them special. The ones I’m getting right now from the agents and photographers are gorgeous. The newspaper ones are stunning.”
But back to eBlasts. “I like them and I don’t like them,” offered Melanie. “A lot of time I have to delete them every morning. But the email trend has helped cut down on the mailed promos. It now takes a week to get what I used to get in a day. I feel better about the impact on the earth.”
“I’m the total opposite,” said Kristine, “I love promos and am guilty of not opening every email blast. Promos have always been a favorite part of my job. I just love them.”
It was clear from the various opinions, that this is a very personal preference. The thread that ran through the conversation was a genuine enthusiasm for beautiful imagery and an appreciation for the work that goes into the mailers. “I used to have a big bin full of promos. I would try to go through it and look at every single one because someone spent a lot of money and time creating them,” continued Jigisha. “Over time, my email volume has grown and the direct mail has gone down to a handful a day. And I’ve gone to enjoying the direct mail vs. the email because it’s more enjoyable to take 20 minutes to enjoy it.”
“If I get a promo, I will look at it. I worked for a photographer and I know how much goes into it,” said Andrea.
And in conclusion, Matt remembered an important conversation he’d had with an art buyer. “I spoke with an art buyer in NY who said she throws out 80 – 90% of what she receives. But because of that she said never to just send her one because she always looks and she’ll remember the photographer’s name. You send me two and one day I meet you or you call me and your name is going to ring a bell. I may not know why, but it will.”
To me, this was a relevant piece of advice. In Rob Haggart’s piece last year about promotion, everyone said they had fewer and fewer print pieces coming in and too many emails. So if you really want to reach someone, send them something in print that is relevant to what they do.”
And in conclusion, one final bit of advice from Cara. “One thing the creatives ask us over and over is how they can make the eblasts stop. The eblasts should be targeted directly to the art producers.”
The conversation then turned to newsletters, books and personalization and the effectiveness of a unique format. Heather started off with a question about the effectiveness of the agency newsletters. “If we don’t have time, we don’t have time,” said Melanie. “But if everyone would do it once a month, then it would be something special.”
“If you send just one beautiful image, it’s enough. I don’t need an expensive book. I’m not going to rip out pages and put them up, but a card will go up,” offered Jill. In keeping with the conclusion that on some level it comes down to personal preference, another Art Producer shared that she had the opposite feeling about books. “Books are my favorite. I have a bookshelf. A book lets me see how they edit, what their eye is and what they’re putting next to each other.”
We all know that in marketing, research and a good list is key. A targeted list and a personalized approach can then be the most effective way to connect with someone with whom you would really like to work. “I know it’s a lot of work. But if you pick out 20 people whose attention you want, it will get my attention,” said Jill. Another concurred, “Personalization is also huge for me. If they write a note I pay more attention.” And finally from Andrea, “I love when they hand address the envelope. It will make me open it.”
To conclude, Heather asked a question we all wonder about. “If you’re not getting email blasts and cards from people, are you assuming they are dead in the water and not shooting? Do they just fade away?”
“Yes, especially if they’re not connected to a rep who is sending out promos on their behalf,” responded Jigisha.
“What was said about reps means more today than ever before,” said Kristine “We rely on you to cull down the best of – both people who know how to handle the camera and those who help them with the overall production. We can hire a photographer without a rep and of course we would do that, but in the scheme of all the things we need to consider, who the entire production team is matters.
Be sure to tune in next week to sample the Dessert of our meeting where we will be addressing Finding Creative Inspiration, the Value of Photography, the State of the Industry and the One Word that best describes our industry.
Thank you again to all of our participants, Heather Elder Represents, Brite Productions and Alison McCreery of POP Blog for making all of this sharing possible.