Marketing Partner: A New and Improved Focus for Stephen DeVries
by Ann MacMullan
No two photographers are alike: that’s why there really isn’t one marketing package that’s right for every single photographer. Although we have many consulting services here at Wonderful Machine that are applicable to all photographers, a custom marketing package (marketing partner) can put them together in a way that will create the most impact. Over the course of the last year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of photographers to develop custom marketing packages that were designed specifically for their specialties, their budget, their experience level, their timeline and their personal goals.
Phase One: Strategize / Organize / List Build
Usually we recommend that any marketing endeavor begin with some version of our Branding and Marketing Plan (BaM! Plan). The BaM! Plan provides what our CEO, Bill Cramer, calls the “full body scan.” We begin with in-depth correspondence to get to know you – a comprehensive questionnaire and a Skype call sometimes with more than one member of the team. What I love about the BaM! Plan is the process of collaborating with a photographer to help determine their goals for the year ahead, and plotting a realistic course of how to achieve them. Sometimes, the kinds of images you love shooting might not be the ones you are most skilled at shooting, or maybe they’re not the types of images that are as immediately marketable. We start the whole conversation by finding the areas that overlap and agreeing on the best direction for your brand.
Stephen DeVries, a photographer based in Birmingham, AL, came to us in May 2014 for a web edit with Sean Stone, which then morphed into an entire marketing campaign. Stephen was shooting food, travel, portrait, product and fashion. During the course of getting to know him to create his custom marketing package, we recommended he consolidate his brand around food and travel, and concentrate his marketing efforts on editorial and commercial clients regionally and nationally. Sometimes it can actually hurt a photographer to have too many specialties, especially if some are weaker than others, and in the end it becomes much harder and more time-consuming to market to such a varied group of clients. Stephen was pleased with our suggestions and his new-found focus:
I have been happy with the choice to focus my work more…food and travel are the two things I’m most excited about and I think the two areas that I’m best at; focusing has helped me really tighten up and make good progress in those areas rather than spread myself across a lot of unrelated areas of photography. I’ve also seen more work come in that is in line with what I love to do rather than a lot of work that may or may not be as exciting and focused.
You can see what Stephen's website looks like now with the suggested categories below:
Phase Two: Marketing Implementation (on a Monthly or Quarterly Basis)
After Stephen made a few changes to his marketing materials, set up his system with Agency Access and Daylite, and we provided him with list builds to target food, beverage and travel photography clients, it was time to send out his first emailer and do start the marketing implementation. Marketing implementation is a general way of describing outreach to clients. Sometimes, the call to action is simply to introduce your work to a prospective client, or to see if they have any projects in the pipeline that may be a good fit for you. Other times, you might be making travel plans to a certain area, and want us to do outreach to schedule meetings at the magazine or ad agency who may have already expressed some interest in you by clicking through to your site from the emailer. (Agency Access allows you to analyze the stats from any given emailer you send out – you can see who opened, who clicked, who opted-out, and it allows you to follow up on any bounces too.)
After analyzing the data from his emailer, and formulating a plan with Stephen, I created customized email scripts to arrange meetings for Stephen in New York City. The idea was to capitalize on his visit for Fotoworks, and get him meetings with people he wasn’t going to be coming across during the portfolio reviews there. I sent out emails, entering in the data to his Daylite system so he could see what I was doing, and then made follow-up phone calls on his behalf. You can see an example of his customized script below:
Example of an email sent out for meetings.
Stephen’s work is so strong, you can imagine what happened next – he got meetings at Niche Media, and an ensuing job through them, and a meeting at Travel + Leisure magazine, one of his dream clients! It was really satisfying to help Stephen reach these goals – he’s incredible to work with, as he’s following his passions in life and the satisfaction he derives from his work is apparent in every interaction. When I asked Stephen where he gets all this energy from, he replied “chocolate." A fitting answer for a photographer who shoots food!
Our monthly check-in calls helped Stephen align his monthly goals, and though we may have had a set list of goals at the beginning, our tasks evolved based on schedules and other factors. As always, Wonderful Machine is on deck to help. When Stephen had some problems uploading his emailer to Daylite our designers got involved to help him code it properly. When Stephen wanted to create a new Print Promo, our photo editors were here to help him select the best images. Whatever the issue, our staff is here to help.
Stephen also sent us this incredible holiday promotion, which makes working with him even more rewarding! Check out images of his D-I-Y Old Fashioned drink kit below: