Lisa Selin Davis interviewed me this week on effective self-promotion efforts for a forthcoming article she is writing for PDN. Here are a few of the thoughts I shared with Lisa on that important subject:
Most common mistakes people make in their marketing strategies:
Invest in what you can sustain! Many photographers take on a marketing campaign that they can’t sustain, either because of time commitment or financial commitment. Perhaps bordom factors in as well!
Know your strengths! Too many photographers try to be all things to all people, and feel that be creating a marketing campaign with broad diversity of skills that will “sell” them to a viewer, when in fact it only confuses them as to what the photographer trying to convey.
Know your audience! Too many photographers don’t research the audience they are seeking and whom within that market will be most likely to respond to the work. I encourage photographers to write and and design promo pieces that “speak THEIR language.” The way one communicates with a curator is different from a gallery director from a photo editor, from an art buyer, from a graphic designer… one’s marketing tools should reflect that: from the choice of format, choice of copy, right down to image selection and image information. If you are sending a piece to someone you hope will collect or represent the work, you would want to present the work in such a way that it conveys the BODY of work, captions might indicate “from the series ________” and size//edition information will further convey your goal. If presenting to a photo editor, show examples what you want to be hired to do – work that can give an editor that confidence. If presenting for advertising or design, they too need to remember your strengths from your presentation, from having a strong consistent style to revealing your production strengths. When producing a CD-Rom, don’t assume everyone will bother to open a folder full of loose jpegs….besides, building a slide show as a PDF or QT movie will ensure that that work is seen in the sequence you prefer they view.
Ultimately, whatever promo piece(s) you invest in should be strong enough to drive your targeted audience to your website, which must be PERFECT, and CURRENT. My best advice regarding websites: less is more, and reveal your “business model” – ask for what you want! Let people know if the work is available for sale, if there is body of material available for exhibition, if you would be interested in discussion creative commissions (or assignments, depending again on what market your are talking to. And, if you are open to granting reproduction rights for the work, again, ask for that by saying that you are.
Sometimes I’ll receive a promotional piece from a photographer, will be intriqued by it and go to their website and to my surprise it has a completely different graphic identity! I wouldn’t know it was the same photographer! What a mistake. Your branding of business cards, print promotional piece and website should be similar in their “look, ” from similar fonts, color palate, style and overall design. To me, that is an effort wasted. What are we left with? Confusion. What do we remember? Not the work…
Mistakes I see too often:
- CD’s shipped in plastic containers that arrive in pieces.
- CD’s with folder after folder, no clear path to viewing…
- CD’s with a slide show but no pause button…
- Websites with black backgrounds and tiny white (or other color) type.
- Websites that take 5 clicks (or more!) to view to an image
- Websites that have so much work featured that the artist must be 200 years old to have complete that many bodies of work
- Print promo piece sent as self-mailers; always arrive damages, and wearing barcodes
- Print promo pieces with envelopes that rip apart when you try to open them
- Print promo pieces with pre-printed labels that are sloppy, indicating a mass mailing produced at 3 a.m.
Use your marketing budget wisely, and to your long-term advantage!