Last summer, I collaborated with Los Angeles-based Automotive photographer Robert Guio on a Client Introductions list. Robert’s specialties include capturing high-end cars, trucks, and motorcycles for press books and magazines. We aimed to introduce him to potential automotive clients and agencies, aiming for projects that would grant him more creative control.
I started my professional career as a media buyer at a large advertising agency working with Fortune 500 companies. I then moved on to a creative agency where I worked on digital marketing for government agencies and nonprofits. Because I wanted a change of scenery, I transitioned to the photography industry in 2018 as a photo assistant and commercial photographer. Eventually, I would have the opportunity to combine these skills. As a photography marketing consultant, I help photographers find their way through reaching out to new clients, writing emails, and developing marketing plans.
Robert and I met over a video call and I immediately knew we had a fun project ahead of us. Who doesn’t love looking through a portfolio of muddy trucks fresh from an adventure and sedans speeding through city-scapes? Robert’s work ranges from race cars to motorcycles to fleets of trucks, but one thing that connects them all is that his work is always sharp and glossy. He has been photographing cars for years but has been pigeonholed into editorial jobs and working on press books (the materials automotive companies send out to the press to review before releasing a new car). He was thus hungry for commercial work and wanted help reaching out directly to automotive clients and the agencies that work with automotive clients.
The standard format for Client Introductions is building a list of 50 contacts. The list is followed by an email being sent to each of those contacts on their behalf. The main idea is that we get their name out into the universe. The photographer nurtures the relationship from there. For this list, we went BIG. Robert signed up for a list of 200 contacts — all Automotive. I had my work cut out for me. However, I love it when a photographer knows what they want and has a focused specialty. It lets me sink into the research and dive deep.
Robert’s main goal was to build a list of automotive clients he could nurture through his email newsletter once the introductions were sent. With a background in and passion for Automotive photography, we were laser-focused on one industry but multiple types of clients. Robert was interested in brands, agencies, and editorial clients. He was also interested in going deep within a company. This meant he was happy to have multiple contacts at each company rather than just one.
Our search was national in scope trying to account for all auto manufacturers. When looking at agencies I made Los Angeles our primary location along with Detroit. That said, when researching agencies I did my best to find creative directors, art directors, and producers who listed automotive clients in their LinkedIn profiles. Robert was on board with the strategy and with some great input from him, we landed a solid list.
With a list this big, we decided it warranted being broken down into four separate email sequences. Each was targeted to a different type of automotive client: Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, and Lifestyle. Each email had its own copy and email image that was tailored to each type of vehicle.
We sent follow-up emails to anyone who didn’t respond to the initial email. I kept the follow-up emails pretty simple to nudge the contact to check out Robert’s work and click on the link to their website. The campaign targeted toward the car contacts was our most successful sequence with 9 replies! Overall the open rates across the four campaigns ranged from 50% to 66% which we deem a success. I truly believe that because we found the right industry contacts, those who handle automotive accounts directly, and tailored the emails to their specific interests the campaign resonated strongly and yielded a strong open rate.
Throughout the process, Robert expressed satisfaction and gratitude for the results. He appreciated the tailored strategy and observed positive responses with 21 people clicking through to his website in a short period:
Thank you for the updated report and everything you’ve done for this campaign. I can’t thank you enough!
Our Client Introductions collaboration was marked by honest communication and brainstorming, resulting in a targeted list and successful outcomes that pleased both of us. We could have easily piled a bunch of random agency contacts on there, throwing spaghetti at the wall, but we were committed to a targeted list with the right people. We were both quite pleased with the results!
Specialty: Auto/Vehicle Photography
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