Success takes hard work, period.
One of the things I’ve learned in many years of running a small business is that there’s no guarantee of success, no matter what you do, how well you do it or how talented you think you are.
I can guarantee you one thing, though: You will fail in your attempts at success if you expect not to work hard, or plan to let other people do the hard work for you. I’ve seen a lot of talented people fail miserably, and some rather marginally talented people have immense success, based on their attitude, passion and dedication, as well as their marketing and promotion work. I do my best to make sure that I’m taking responsibility for my success.
“The price of greatness is responsibility.”
– Winston Churchill
If you read my blog or follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you know I’m a huge fan of quotes. I find these pearls of wisdom to be the perfect antidote to the blues, or just a reaffirmation of what I already know but need to hear again and again. Positive reinforcement is a good thing if it gets you to take action on the things you need to do in order to have a chance at the success you think you deserve.
“Big pay and little responsibility are circumstances seldom found together.”
– Napoleon Hill
Writing about the work that we must do and the responsibility that we must take in delivering our message to the right audience is as much an exercise for me as advice for you. It’s an effort to believe in yourself and work your ass off – but that’s how you make good things happen.
If you’ve been reading about My Marketing Adventure, you know I’m working with a great team of Agency Access marketing experts, who are guiding me through the plotting of my marketing and branding strategies. Notice I said “guiding me,” not “doing the work for me.” We are a team. If I didn’t take responsibility for the overall success of the campaign, it would be doomed from the start.
“Nothing will work unless you do.”
– Maya Angelou
I’ve been working with Jennifer Kilberg, my Campaign Manager Pro consultant. Together we’ve planned my website flow and design, tied in all of my branding elements and worked on getting my email and direct-mail promotional pieces delivered to the right people. I didn’t hand this work off to her and forget about it; quite the opposite. I’ve never spent more time and effort on my marketing than this year. I’m doing my best to assume responsibility for my own success.
Will this strategy work for me? Who knows? But I do know that if I work harder and smarter, my chances for success are much higher.
“The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
– Samuel Goldwyn
Agency Access has a fantastic internal search engine and list builder, which helps a lot with their national database of over 70,000 creatives. Going through all that data is not one of my favourite chores – this is one I definitely share with my marketing team – but when the lists are done, we send an initial email blast and eagerly check the open and click-through rates.
This data tells us who should get a direct-mail piece and who we should contact by telephone. I also check the lists to make sure they include important contacts at companies or magazines I want to work with. This means more work for me, but more marketing work will give me more opportunities to get actual work from good clients.
Let’s take a look at how we refine a list in the Agency Access database.
Under “List Options” I’m going to select:
- Company Types: Magazines
- Hiring Frequency: Companies That Hire Photographers and Companies That Buy Stock Photography
- Campaign Type: Email and Direct Contacts
- Countries: All (in my subscription package)
- United States: All except Kansas. No, I don’t hate Kansas. I’m just showing you how specific you can get when selecting locations.
- Metro Areas: All
- Canada: All Provinces
Under “Company Criteria” I selected:
- Titles: Art Director, Design Director, Graphic Designer, Editor, Publisher, Photo Editor, Creative Director
- Specialities: Architecture & Construction, Landscapes & Locations, Photography, Travel/Hotels/Airlines, Urban
I left “Awards” blank, but if you really want to refine your selection for creatives who have won big industry awards, there are filter choices:
In this list we get:
TOTAL: 1,042 contacts from 433 companies.
Let’s take a look at an obvious choice from these companies and contacts, such as National Geographic Traveller. I’ll click on the line once to highlight it to see the details of the contacts in the top right of the screen; for even more info, I’ll double-click and a new screen will open with the full company info:
As you can see, this allows you to see the names, titles and email addresses of the creatives and the company websites. This is a great resource for doing even more research into companies and magazines that interest you. Any of the individual contacts in these lists can be added to your final saved list of contacts.
There will certainly be companies that you’ll want to research more to see if your type of photography applies. This matters; even more after you finish an email blast and want to follow up with phone calls or direct-mail cards.
Take the time to find out if the ad agencies, companies and magazines are using your type of photography. Follow the links to their websites and do some sleuthing to see what brands an agency represents or what type of photography a magazine really uses, and use that information to make your decisions about who you should follow up with, and how.
“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”
Agency Access can provide you with the tools to do your marketing, but tools can’t build anything without someone using them to their potential. A great new camera or lens is not going to take amazing photos for you, and your marketing plans won’t work if you don’t take the time to work on them. The tools are there to help you –it’s up to you to take charge and dedicate the proper amount of time and enthusiasm to your own marketing adventure.
Metro DC Photography says
Ken, thanks for keeping us in the loop on how your marketing is going. I’ve looked around and tried to find other photographers who’ve done similar and posted about it but havent come across any yet. Hope it works out for you, you’ve got some really great images on your website. Come back to DC soon and take some more!
Ben Chase says
Good read Ken – Definitely agree with many of your points.
The one discovery I made with Agency Access is that it prompted me to do a lot more research about who to send promos to. I found that click and open rates are much more positive with a carefully crafted approach than with an all-or-nothing approach by selecting sending to everyone on the list.
Edwin van der Veer says
Like the way you’re handling your workflow professionally :)
Right now I’m in the process of setting up things like workflow and such, but I find it pretty hard to do this the right way.
(I use WordPress too, but it sometimes takes a lot of time maintaining the site) Your article shares some insights on marketing and as I’m certainly no marketeer, this helps a lot! So thank you!
Ken I love your work and have been following you for awhile. I am always impressed by your latest images and your perspective.
Thanks for blogging about Agency A and especially marketing. As a one person org I’ve often had to make choices about how to manage my days. Images usually win, marketing falls to the wayside.
I’m interested in AA but am wondering whether the expense will eat up my revenues. Thx! Terri
Marina K. Villatoro says
This is sooo great. I am devouring your series! It’s a lot to take in, but am following step by step.
Since we all run different business, I am working out a good model for my business.
thanks for breaking it down.
Lucas Cobb says
Thank you for such an in depth post on the “physical” marketing steps you are taking to get assignments. You could easily sit back and wait for people to contact you based on this great WordPress site, but it just goes to show that even someone as talented as yourself still needs to “pound the pavement” to get work, it is just not handed to you daily.
Excellent perspective and a great tutorial on how to really “target” your photographic niche for offers.
Lisa Wood says
never realised how much work was needed behind the scenes of a successful photographer! I love your photos so I just thought that you would be working with the best of the best magazines..but now I can see how hard you work on getting your photos out there! All the best with your business ;)
Jeremy Branham says
I definitely agree with the hard work part. I am not always the best at coming up with strategies or following through on all my ideas so it will be interesting to see what comes of your efforts.
Ken Kaminesky says
Metro, while lots of other photographers do the marketing that I do, not many have written about it in great detail. I hope that by doing so I can help other photographers with their strategies to get new clients.
Ben, Agreed, taking the time to make the proper selections will only increase your chances of success.
Edwin, I’m glad to hear that the articles have been helping.
Terri, It’s a balanced approach that will win in the end. You have to invest in your business in order for it to grow. Sometimes you even have to take a loss for a while if you really want to grow. It’s not lost money, the rewards are there in the long run.
Marina, you’re doing the right thing. Not all of what i write about here will apply to every photographer. Take what does apply to you and make it work.
Lucas, Good things do NOT come to those who wait. Good things come to those who work their asses off and never give up! :)
Lisa, Thanks! It’s not easy being a photographer today, most of the real work I do is looking for work.
Jeremy, make sure that you believe in yourself and keep working harder and smarter. The key is the “smarter”.
I absolutely love this!!! Love the site and the photography! :)
Thanks for the detailed series of write-ups on this. While I wouldn’t be able to afford their services, your articles give a good idea on the right approach.
Stephan Berglund says
Thank you for telling the world about your promotional experience. I am right now in the beginning of starting mine and searched the internet to see if anyone out there had a story about this. And you did…:-) So hopefully you’ve got some good opportunities after all that work. Wish you best of luck in the future…
Stephan / photographer in Sweden