Wonderful Machine has undergone so many changes lately, we feel like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. Some of those changes have been pretty dramatic. We launched a new brand and a new website in April, and we moved into a new office in May. Since then, we’ve also been examining all the ways we promote our photographers, and we’ve evolved in ways both big and small to improve each of those processes.
Client Research. The most dramatic change for us has been in our client research process. Until recently, we’ve been using Agency Access for most of our client information – to support our individual outreach, for our email blasts, and to help individual photographers build lists of clients. But as our staff has grown over the years (both in number and in experience), we’ve become pretty good at tracking down clients ourselves. I also felt that philosophically in order to fulfill our mandate of being experts on connecting photographers with clients, we needed to be fully committed to the client research process. As a result, we’ve already seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of our client data, and since we’re careful not to oversaturate those clients with email promotions, they don’t opt out of our lists.
We divide clients into three categories: publications, agencies, and brands. We have six staff members devoted to methodically researching and reaching out to the most important prospects in those categories (by email and phone) to learn more about their needs, to tell them about our photographers, and to set up meetings whenever possible. In addition, our executive producers and marketing consultants are interacting with clients every day, further cementing those relationships.
Spotlight Emailer. With all that new contact information, we figured it was also time for a fresh approach to our spotlight emailers. Thanks to our designer, Kim Lincon, we were able to completely transform our look.
The new version features one photographer news story and also promotes three of our other photographers from around the world. Each blast goes out to a portion of our list so that each of our prospects gets an email from us about once a month. These new emailers are only made possible by your projects, so please be sure to keep us posted on the work you’re doing! We’re looking for:
– Recent projects
– Exceptional photos
– Interesting backstory or creative process
– High production value whenever possible
– High profile clients are nice, but the projects can also be self-assigned
We also take into account the genre of the photographs, as we try to cycle through as many of our specialties as possible.
Our publicists and photo editors routinely scan our member photographers’ websites and blogs for content that might be appropriate for our Spotlight Emailer, but please don’t be shy about sharing projects that you think clients would appreciate seeing.
Web Ads. Finally, we’ve recently been experimenting with Google Ad Words. We’re just getting started with this, so it’s too soon to say much about the results. But we like the idea that we can attract clients who are doing organic searches for commercial photographers (primarily based on specialty). We’ll keep you posted each month with our results.
Monthly Digest. To make it easy for you to keep tabs on all that we do, we’ve created a monthly digest of our member blog posts which will be sent to you by email during the first week of each month. (You can unsubscribe at the bottom of the email if you wish or resubscribe by clicking on the Follow By Email button on the member blog.)
As always, we’ll continue to examine the results of our marketing efforts and tweak our processes accordingly. A lot of the changes I’ve made over the years have been inspired by the feedback I get from our member photographers. So please feel free to call or email me any time if you’d ever like to provide me with additional inspiration!