What Am I Missing? Analyzing Your Marketing
No matter if you are a photographer, illustrator, rep, director, or production artist, I think we can all admit that 2020 was a bust and with that, came a slow and steady start to 2021. We’re four months into 2021 and the momentum and energy in the industry have certainly picked back up; you can feel the buzz in the air and the return of excitement around marketing and making connections.
That being said, it’s time to kick our marketing strategizing and planning into high gear. Let’s start simple: take a step back and evaluate what you did in 2020 and even at the beginning of this year; that’s step one. Read on and use this blog post as a checklist to help you do a full in-depth analysis of your plan and identify where you can improve as we move forward through 2021 and even into 2022.
Your Marketing Plan: Strengths and Weaknesses
Take some time and go through these questions. Your answers to these questions will help you understand what areas you need to put more attention to:
1. Do you have a clearly defined target market? It’s normal to have more than one market. If this is the case, you have a few options; you can focus on one market for this year and then re-evaluate or, you can run multiple campaigns to support the expanse of your markets.
2. Were you consistent with your email marketing? Is email promotion still a viable means of marketing in today's day and age? Yes, email remains one of the only means of marketing that is trackable while also assessing and classifying your leads. Consistency is vital when it comes to a successful email marketing plan. What do we qualify as consistent? You should be sending email promotions at least every other month to show new work and keep your name out there.
3. Did your email marketing efforts deliver results? It’s safe to say that email marketing has always been and continues to be one of the most popular ways that our industry communicates. However, this means that the amount of inbox traffic is at a steady increase meaning you’ve probably noticed a decline in your stats over the last five years. It is important to remember not to focus so much on the number of your clicks and opens but rather on the quality of future connections you are creating. Be sure to check your analytics after each email send; pay attention to the creatives who are engaging with your work. These are the creatives with the most potential to become future clients.
4. Did you create a list of potential target clients to market through direct mail? And did you actually send direct mail cards to those potential clients? So maybe 2020 wasn’t the year of the direct mail card; with so many people not in the office or working from home, it might have felt like a “waste of time and money” to send direct mail. While we understand that sentiment, it doesn’t give you the green light to give up and abandon what is still a super successful channel of marketing. Do your research, we did; take the time to reach out and try and get home addresses. Our research team worked hard over the months to compile data on where creatives are receiving their mail; some are having it forwarded, some are going to the office to get it; we even got creatives reaching out with their home address and asking to have physical mail sent directly to them. Yes, the delivery may take a bit longer, but it will get there and now, as we are a bit deeper into 2021, we are seeing a shift in our day-to-day as things begin to open back up and more productions are beginning again. Either way, if you have the budget, direct mail is still a successful channel of marketing and should not be ignored or cast aside. Creatives might not be getting their mail as usual but trust us – they’re getting it.
5. Did you maintain your relationships with existing clients every quarter? We can't stress this enough: your past clients are SO important; they are your low-lying fruit. It's important to be personal and connect with them quarterly, allowing them to know what you've been up to and stay on their radar. A personalized email or handwritten note card is an excellent way to do this.
6. Did you participate in social media? Social media is not going anywhere; instead, it's growing and becoming more of a way for brands to connect with like-minded individuals. Your social platform should be curated, just like your website. It's essential to make sure that it still speaks to the brand that you're selling. If you have an Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or blog — you should be posting at the very least once per week. Is once a week too much to commit to right now? Find a balance between creating new work and being an active social media participant. How can you be an active participant? Like, comment, and engage with your followers and other accounts that you follow and post relevant content. If you put in the effort, you will find that social media can be one of the most successful and budget-friendly channels in your marketing plan.
7. Have you participated in any Portfolio Sites? Recently, creatives have been loving the ease of finding new talent on portfolio sites. With more and more of them popping up, it would be a missed opportunity for you not to take advantage of this marketing channel, and we know from experience just how important it is to be present in the places that creatives are searching for new artists. These sites allow the creative to search by specialty and location, making it a goldmine for low-on-time creatives. Some of our favorites are Found, Le Book, and AtEdge.
8. Are you taking advantage of networking opportunities? In-person networking opportunities have been at a standstill for a bit but that doesn’t mean we can’t engage with our community in effective and creative ways. Technology and social media have revolutionized the networking landscape and thank goodness it did because we needed it! Digital networking is a concept we have all become extremely accustomed to; think Zoom meetings and portfolio reviews, connections via LinkedIn, and private messages on social media. There are plenty of avenues for you to explore while we wait for the world to fully open back up. Think of new and creative ways to engage with your community; if you’re a food photographer set up a table at a Farmers Market and connect with your local farmers. Take into consideration the businesses that surround you; reach out to them and see if they need content for their social media or internal purposes; if you are a strong storyteller with an eye for detail, this could be a world-changing avenue for you. You never know where that next job will come from so try not to discount trying different ways to get yourself out there. Networking is one of those things that takes a bit to master, but once you've got the hang of it, the possible benefits are limitless and can lead to much success and many more relationships for you to build off.
9. Did you develop, create, and deliver a "special promotion"? Special promos are a great way to show your creative process, have fun, be playful and engage with your audience to create something memorable. Keep in mind that special doesn’t have to mean expensive. Send out a personal email with a cool quarantine project you worked on while you were home, print your logo on a mask and send them out to 10 of your top dream clients. Work to connect with brands that you feel are like-minded; show them the personal side of you; humanize yourself. Share and show the work you are passionate about and in turn, that could lead to a new relationship and the opportunity to create more work in that style. It’s all about making an impression and that doesn’t mean it has to break the bank.
10. Is your SEO up to par? Are your keywords generating useful organic Google searches that lead people to your site? Google's getting smarter and smarter, and more tactics and platforms are becoming more needed. We recommend working with an SEO consultant if you're interested in going further or utilizing this as a critical marketing tool. Clients who focus more on advertising and editorial will find that SEO plays a more significant role but should not be the only marketing channel.
Now it's time to evaluate!
Start by working through these two questions…
1. Which marketing effort(s) worked the best for you in the past?
2. What are your goals moving forward into the year? Start fresh and let the plan generate the work you want.
Let's Take Your Marketing Plan One Step Further:
1. Create a "top 25 list" of potential clients to focus on. Ask yourself the following:
- Will you send them a special promo?
- How often will you reach out to them?
- Will you be willing to travel to meet them?
- Will you develop a custom pitch for these potential clients? If so, what will it be?
2. Marketing Frequency:
- Mass Email Marketing: Send an email promotion every two months.
- Targeted Marketing: Direct mail following each email sent, or at least quarterly.
- Personal Outreach: Take the time to review your stats from your email sends and create a targeted list of clients who engaged with your email and reach out. Remember: On average, every ten meetings should generate at least one new client, so do your math of how many clients you want — and how many meetings you need to make to get them.
- Social Media: Keep your name out there through your social platforms! Make sure your posts are consistent with your brand and message. What's a realistic posting goal for you and your life? Once a week, we suggest so block off some time each week to get your social in order. Utilize apps like Hootsuite to help you organize your posts and stay consistent. If you choose to post on social sites, remember to be consistent — don't post to Instagram every day and then not post anything for a month!
3. Create new work that pushes the envelope while supporting your target market. Ask yourself:
- Do you need a website refresh?
- Does your work match your overall brand?
- Do you have enough new images to support your new marketing plan? (Believe it or not, six to 20 new images can successfully support a year-long marketing plan.)
4. What are your financial goals this year? Write down:
- How much do you want to earn this year?
- How much are you prepared to invest in your business?
- How much of your budget do you want to allocate to marketing?
- Do you plan on investing in educational classes or new equipment?
With a little planning, this year can bring much success, happiness, and growth to your business. Here's to a better marketing future!