Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ok, let's buy TWO Spreads in the Annuals

Seth's short article on Home Depots "story" and how it may be the single greatest hindrance to finding new business makes good reading. In my neighborhood there is a HD right across the street from a Loew's. The difference is astounding. Loew's customer experience is heads and shoulders over HD. That doesn't make it the best choice for everyone, but Loew's story is far different than HD's. Just walk in the door, walk the isles and checkout. You'll see.

How does that fit into marketing photography. Well, perfectly. Too many photographers are still in the "Home Depot" mode. Story is narrow and message is cluttered, or non-existent. So what do they do when business starts to slow? They buy more source book ads. When asked if the last years source book ads brought them the work they needed, the answer is usually no. So what is the reason for buying more of the material that didn't perform last year? I think it is comfort. (Yes, ego plays a large part too, but it is so easy to buy an ad, then curse the publication for all kinds of shortcomings, real and imagined.)

Start thinking about your message. Your story. Is it compelling? Does it cut through the amazing amount of clutter that your target audience receives daily? Is it real?

And as far as the lying goes... I have seen photographers with spreads in annuals who show 4-6 images... the best images they ever made. Then when the job comes in the work falters. Are you showing authentically what you can... and WANT to do? Tell your story from the heart. Tell it with passion and honesty (ok, you can glitz up the honesty a tiny bit), and tell it everywhere.

I once had a photographer tell me he never marketed. He wore only black pants and shirts, antique glasses, drove a 50 something Chevy (beautifully restored) shot only large format and hand made all his portfolios. Never marketed? Bull. He was telling his story every day, at every shoot and in every appointment. This was many years ago and he got it back then. Marketing, nawww... tell a story. Get them to 'buy into' your message from a place of choice.

Seth Godin - Liar's Blog - Do you have a Home Depot problem?: "Your organization may be just like the Home Depot. You may be good at one story, you may have grown into that story, but now that story can't get you to an audience that doesn't have the same worldview as your existing customers. The common solution is to yell. To yell louder, or more cleverly, or in more targeted media. To insist that you have the solution to this group's problems, that you have proof that you are better, and why oh why won't they switch."

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