This year started out with some major personal and professional changes for Canadian portrait photographer Luther Caverly. He relocated from Ottawa, clear across the country to Vancouver, after Ottawa shut down during the pandemic and didn’t appear to be opening up anytime soon. Luther found Vancouver open for business; but first, he needed to rebuild his client base.
In our initial conversation, I learned that Luther had a lot of experience working for industrial, education, and corporate clients. Some of those are national, and he would continue working with them after the move, but the ones that were regional would have to be replaced.
We decided that our Marketing Partner program would give Luther’s photography business the boost it needed. Each month I research and send individual emails to 25 prospects in a particular area of interest. I then send a second round of emails to anyone who doesn’t respond to the first email. The emails include a digital promo to match that type of client. Then, that list of 25 contacts then gets added to Luther’s overall prospect list, that he periodically sends a Mailchimp campaign to.
Our rule of thumb here is branding before marketing. So before diving into Luther’s first list build, we took a look at all of his marketing materials. Luther has a strong collection of portrait work on his website, but all the images were presented in a single gallery. We decided to divide them into the three categories (industrial, education, and corporate), so that we could link directly to the specific gallery for each targeted list we built. This didn’t take long to accomplish and resulted in a stronger overall presentation for his website.
Luther knew there were lots of educational opportunities in and around the Vancouver area, so I researched those clients for our first list. In that first 25, we had replies from several institutions, but one of my email’s (to one of Luther’s top prospects) kept getting blocked, so I encouraged Luther to email them directly. He was able to connect with that highly sought-after client and ended up bidding on several rebranding projects that will be happening this fall.
As I was researching industrial clients for our next list, I discovered that there was quite a bit of business around the Port of Vancouver, so I ended up including clients that I found through that research.
We sent subsequent campaigns to corporations, regional agricultural businesses, and creative agencies in the Vancouver area. We met monthly to discuss upcoming lists, which enabled me to continue learning more about the Vancouver market and explore opportunities for Luther.
Together, Luther and I worked to build a strong network for him in Vancouver that would make up for the clients he lost as a result of his move. Reflecting on our collaboration, Luther told me…
The overall process I think worked well. You took the time each month to work with me on what direction to go, which I think gave us a very focused list of companies, in specific industries, that fit the types of clients I wanted to work with. The result being a number of points of contact for me to continue to pursue, and some excellent responses that I feel, with the right continued engagement, could become solid working relationships. A few of those responses are from companies that were high on my wish list and could potentially replace some regionally specific clients I had to leave behind in Ottawa. I’ve already started a dialogue with some, one of which has asked me to submit a proposal for a number of lifestyle shoots in support of an upcoming rebrand.
Moving forward, I plan on using what I’ve learned and the advice I’ve been given, to continue to engage potential clients from this list, as well as expand upon it.