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4 years ago

Marketing Hack #18: Write a gear review (or two)

People love to peek behind the scenes and you’re the one who can give them access to your world. Let them peek behind the curtain so to speak and share how you make your images, your movies, your ______________ (fill in the blank with whatever it is that you make).

Part of that creation process is the equipment that we use and as you know, nothing is a stronger validation than a review of a piece of gear created by someone you trust, when you’re looking to acquire a piece of gear.

So whether it’s a review of the hard drives I use on location (ioSafe rocks) – or if it’s talking about the big, solar-powered battery I rely on when I’m shooting off the grid (GoalZero has some incredible products) or reviewing the little one to keep my cell phone topped off (Bushnell makes a cool one).

As an aside, once you’ve written or filmed a review or two and some recommendations, you can go to the equipment manufactures and ask them if they could use a customer testimonial video or guest blog post that’s a review of their products (trust me they love a well written or creatively shot review from one of their customers).

Cinematographer takes ioSafe drives to extremesAnd if you do it often enough, they’ll come to you and ask you to create a review for them, like ioSafe did a few months ago.

You can make the review be a periscope live broadcast or write a blog post about the gear both are great tools to take your audience behind the scene. Remember that your ultimate goal is not only to share from your experience and help people find tools that they may have not known about before; but at the end of the day, you want to let your target audience know, that you are an expert when it comes to utilizing the correct gear for the job.

4 years ago

Marketing Hack #17: Link your postcards to the cloud

MarketingHack 16: Postcards from the cloud

Probably the single most important reason to use Marketing Hacks, is to stand out from the crowded field of visual noise bombards our all the time. Social Media, Email campaigns, TV ads, junk mail, pop up ads, the list goes on and on all clamor for our attention – some are specifically focused on your target audience, others aren’t.

Shock and Awe marketing (with help from the cloud)

How do you stand out? You need a to fire a full broadside at your target market to be seen. A single email, blog post of Facebook status update won’t cut it. It has to be shock and awe marketing, but I’m not talking about content that’s designed specifically to be crude or offensive – I mean your content has to hit your audience on many channels at the same time – Here’s a sneak peek at cutting through the digital clutter from my upcoming blog post I wrote for the American Society of Media Photographers blog strictly business called “How to fire a marketing broadside at your target audience!“:

How do you compete against this onslaught? Go old school (with a twist): send a handwritten post card. Clients appreciate knowing that they weren’t part of an automated campaign, filled in their <FIRST NAME> <LAST NAME> and thanking them for the opportunity to bid on a photography job for <THEIR COMPANY>. A handwritten thanks gets noticed (…) So where’s the twist I mentioned earlier? [Spoiler alert it’s in the cloud] Well on the back of the post card is a link to a landing page on my website, that goes to a web page with the same image, …

You can read about one specific channel I’m using in greater detail now and if that image looks familiar to you you’re right! It featured in Marketing Hack #12 (and you just remembered another shot from my broadside marketing campaign.)

Postcards to the cloud

Connecting postcard to the cloud

I’m a commercial photographer – which means I only shoot B2B and I’m creating a postcard campaign for my business that’s targeted specifically toward small business owners and boutique creative agencies. I wanted to share how I’m automating my snail mail marketing:

This printed mailer is connected to the cloud via custom URL.

I’d specifically love to talk to you about what happens after my customer receives the postcard. Of course it has my URL on the front of the card – actually the face of the card (minus the tagline) is a copy of the front page of my website.

However the real magic happens on the back (which is where we connect to the cloud) – the normal elements are all there – my address, the award the image has won, copyright info – none of that is anything special, however the last paragraph is:

It includes a link to my blog (in human readable form –, which leads to a landing page specifically designed for this mailer (it also includes the real review that this client posted on LinkedIn):

See the form? It connects to the cloud.

Here’s what it does for my clients

That page is the link between the real world and my online presence. The page captures email address, first and last name, automatically adds those to my email mailing list and returns the client to my blog homepage and writes a personalized email series I wrote about this shoot, with links to these three posts:

– how I plan and estimate product photography shoots

– how I scout the locations for a product shoot

– how I actually photograph one of these productions

These posts include, bts photos, descriptions of apps used, recordings of periscope live streams, a short video of the shoot, ect. (I’m still working on building more content for this series). Ok so that’s what it does for my clients.

Here’s what it does for my business

On my back-end in the cloud, it automatically enters the captured information [email, first name, last name, landing page version] from my email list (MailChimp) to my Customer Relationship Management service (SalesForce) via Zappier automation, which also sends an SMS to my phone letting me know that someone has subscribed via this specific mailer.

In the end my customer gets:

  • the post card with my contact info
  • a personalized interaction with my brand
  • introduced to my blog that talks about photography, cinematography and marketing
  • a personalized email with links to content, that talks about how this image is created

I get:

  • a new subscriber to my list,
  • a new lead for my product photography
  • an alert that someone just signed up

The beauty of this is, that now that this is all set up, it will happen automatically every time a potential customer types that url ( into their browser and fills out their contact info. This campaign is specifically marketed to current clients I have, who hire me to photograph very simple product photography and need to think about creating photographs that actually tell a story and to small businesses and creative shops that don’t think of me as a photographer, who can create this type of imagery.

The post cards are ordered (VistaPrint is having their semi-annual 50% off sale – one thousand 4 color postcards with b/w print on the back, run about $100.-) the landing page and email auto responder are created and once the cards mail out, it’ll be interesting to see how this campaign performs.

If you want to experience what my customers will see, you can click-through, and take the journey.

I’d love to hear any comments about how this process worked for you.


4 years ago

MarketingHack #16: Be featured as an expert in a book

MarketingHack 16: Loose a book for 2 years

25 Marketing Hacks is a weekly blog series the explores unconventional ways of getting the word out about your work. Traditionally photographers and cinematographers use their portfolios or show reels either in a face-to-face meeting or online to attract new clients. Today I’ll show you how to be featured as an expert in a book that you don’t even have to write.

Become an expert

So yeah, there’s no way around this. You got to become an expert. Clients love to work with an expert in the field, Google loves to find the expert to serve to their users, experts are wanted by everyone. This is the part where you need to put your nose to the grind stone and work hard.

The good news is that you don’t have to become the best expert in the world – after all there’s Featured Expert on videoonly one of those – but you need to become an expert in the eye of the author who is looking for an expert to help teach his readership.

Back up and tell the story from the beginning

Two and a half years ago, I got contacted by Rosh Sillars (@RoshSillars) who was writing a Digital Field guide on the Canon EOS Rebel T5i. He was looking for an expert to give some tips on how to shoot video with the new Rebel. Rosh had asked me to give some practical tips on capturing motion, rather than the technical settings.

I gladly agreed, for one I enjoy helping my friends do well. I also can’t see the downside of being featured in a book as the expert on video. I was in the middle of pulling off my world wide première of my first documentary film (Check out Marketing Hack #11 for why we showed the film at an airport), when I did a quick phone interview with Rosh about video.

It’s kind of a funny story

Rosh finishes the interview, the book gets published and I’m supposed to get a copy from the publisher, but honestly I totally forgot about it, although I did see the page on and included a link to that page on my about page. Fast forward to yesterday (2 years after the book got published).

4 years ago

MarketingHack #15: Become a regular writer on a national blog

MarketingHack 15: Become a regular contributor to a national blog (or two).
2 and a half years blogging for ASMP blog

Click to see all the articles I’ve written for ASMP’s national blog “Strictly Business” over the last 30 months

Your clients are searching for an expert

Picture this: someone googles photographer – or any other business for that matter. What kind of small business are they looking to find? The expert, right? Who is listed on the first page of Google? The experts for that search term, right?

I know there are about a gazillion variables Google combs through to rank their results, but let me ask you one question: If there are two photographers, who rank identical in search, but one consistently writes for a national blog (or two) and the other does not – which one of the two will rank higher?

Simple” you say “the one who is a regular contributor to a well known national blog, but how on earth do you become one of those bloggers?” If it were easy, everybody would be doing this, right?

How do you get national exposure?

Write for the blog of a nationally recognized organization to get national exposure, simple right? Well not so fast. Remember when I said that some of these MarketingHacks are simple, they just fall into your lap (like Marketing Hack #8: Do something unexpected – that one took me a less than an hour and cost less than $10 bucks). Let me be honest, the one we’re talking about here requires work and lots of it.

So you wanna write for a national blog …

This may sound silly, but if you’ve never written for a blog – even if it’s your own – it’s gonna be hard to convince the editors of a national blog to have you write for them as a regular contributor (I’m not talking about the occasional guest blogging here, I’m talking about a commitment to create content on an ongoing a regular basis.)

Start here:

Show your work to the editors, so they can get a feel for how you write. If you can show that you write for other known blogs – even if it’s a guest post – that’s gonna help. Like everything in life …

4 years ago

MarketingHack #14: Get a government agency to feature your content

Marketing is about getting your content out there. The more people see it, the better. Since many people find content via search, it’s important that your content get’s shared and linked to, but did you know that Google actually cares who links to your content? Some of the best incoming links are educational and governmental websites. Search engines know that it is much more difficult to get a back link from a government website than a normal .com sit.

With that fact in mind, I wanted to make sure I went after this kind of link, when I filmed for an NGO that partnered with the European Union commission on Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, or ECHO for short. I had interviewed the head of ECHO in Kabul while filming my short documentary film. That’s why I was thrilled to read the following in an email that was  to me:

“[Name] just passed on the film I’d been asking about – many congratulations, it’s come out beautifully! One of the best I’ve seen from any partner til [sic] date actually, both in terms of format and content – very well done! (…) In any case, I really feel this film deserves more visibility, and I’m quite sure we could find other platforms for it (starting of course with the ECHO website!), so please let me know what the plans are.

An employee of a European Union government department wrote these words. ECHO is a partner with the NGO I had filmed ‘On Wings of Hope’ for in Afghanistan.


EU government site links to On Wings of Hope film.


I was humbled and honored by this sentiment, but when they linked to the film on the front page of their website I was ecstatic!

Search engines give government website more weight for inbound links, because they trust these websites more.

So when you create a project or produce a body of work or fashion great online content, it’s a good idea to see if there is any way that you can get a government website (in the US they end with .gov) or at least an educational institution (.edu) to link to your page. It carries more weight than other inbound links.

ECHO site

4 years ago

Marketing Hack #13: Ask to be introduced to someone else’s audience

How to build an audience

It’s not easy getting your marketing message heard today. There is so much noise out there – so many things are vying for every split second of our time, that especially if you’re just starting out you are speaking to no one. How do you build your audience?

Find someone who already has an audience and is willing to introduce you to them. Now there are a couple of people you don’t need to ask. The photographer that is in your market and your direct competition is probably not going to want to introduce you to his audience. I mean we’re all friends, but we also compete for the same work.

Rosh audience

Let me tell you who gave me a chance to be heard: I met Rosh (@RoshSillars) a few years ago. He’s a Detroit photographer that shoots food and people. He was planning to hold a Social Media workshop in Miami many years ago and I had signed up for that. That workshop ended up falling through, but we stayed in touch. Rosh hosts a podcast and -I don’t remember all the details if he asked me or I asked him- but I ended up being a guest on his show. Rosh and I don’t compete. We’re in different markets and we focus our photography on different segments of those markets. It didn’t hurt his business to have a Miami product photographer on. Interestingly enough my first time we spoke about the importance of blogging.

Sharing audiences is a long-term strategy

To be honest, my phone did not ring off the hook, with people begging to photograph for them after the show aired, but Rosh gave me the opportunity to talk to his audience. You never know where these opportunities end up, our most recent collaboration was the Switch2Social workshop I produced in Miami, where Rosh was the main speaker. Rosh has interviewed me for books he’s written, I’ve been on his show a few times and he’s promoted some online events I’ve put on.

As long as there is mutual benefit in these relationships and it makes sense to share your audience. If you’re just starting out – ask another photographer, if they can introduce you to their audience and if you’re an established shooter, don’t be afraid to share some new voices with your audience.

4 years ago

Marketing Hack #12: Compliments are meant to be shared

Share compliments your brand receives

Share the compliments your business gets with the world

Referrals are a great source of new business. If my friend tells me that you’re good, his recommendation place a bigger role in my decision to hire you, than pretty much anything else. When the person compliments your brand , by writing a recommendation or giving you a referral, that’s huge!

So perfect it had to be photoshoppedBut there are only a few places online, that let people write these compliments online, I’m thinking primarily LinkedIn (for B2B) and Google (for clients that find you though search) and not so much Yelp – I love Yelp when I’m looking for a restaurant, but I have not seen anyone pull their website up to find a commercial or advertising photographer (that’s why I think it makes no sense for you to advertise on Yelp.)

In the B2B world it’s reviews, referrals and recommendations and the more of an expert the person that’s making the compliment about your brand is, the more worth that comment will have. How do you let people know about these positive comments though, if people don’t leave them on LinkedIn or Google?

Well, I’m glad you asked – here’s what happened to me last week and what I’m doing with that compliment: I’m working on a printed piece to mail to my clients that use me as their product photographer. I’ve shot some basic product photography for them, but we haven’t done any shots, that tell their product’s story. So a few days ago, I contacted a couple art director friends of mine and asked them which tagline went best with this image for the target audience I just described – you can help me as well, by answering the same question:

An unexpected compliment

A short time later I get the responses from my friends, but one of them totally surprises me. He tells me his favorite tagline, but then he starts talking about the photograph itself:

Bob compliments my brand As I’m chatting on Facebook with my Chicago art director friend Bob, he asks me if I did the final retouching/composition of the image. Nope, I say it’s only run through Capture One (the best RAW image processor I know) and I removed a stray hair in photoshop. Other than that it’s exactly the image I saw in my mind as my camera was recording it.

His response? “Well color me IMPRESSED! It’s so perfect, I thought it had to be ‘photoshopped’.” Well gosh darn it Bob, you’re making me *blush*.

Well a compliment from an expert is worth a lot to me and Bob is an expert. He’s been an art director for decades, seen hundreds of thousands of images and thought that this one was so perfect, it had to be photoshopped. That’s saying something, unfortunately…