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The whole thing started on Twitter. I followed the filmmaking blog of one of Europe’s top young filmmakers. His tweet put him in Miami a few years ago, right in my own backyard. Nino was on vacation with his girlfriend after having been at NAB. I did the only thing that you should do, when that happens–I invited them to breakfast. “If you ever need help producing a filmmaking masterclass in the States, I’d be happy to help.”
A few months later I get a PM on twitter: “Are you still up for helping us produce a Filmmaking Masterclass in the US with Philip Bloom?” For those of you who don’t know, Philip is one of the most well-known HDDSLR shooters and instructors around, so there is a big opportunity in working with world-class talent like him.
Marketing is in large part positioning your brand. Being able to work together with a world-class group of people rubs off on your brand. Find the best expert in your field and offer to help them put on an event, a show, a film, an article, a workshop – anything that lets you get your brands name out there.
Long story short, I ended up producing 2 filmmaking masterclass workshops. One in Las Vegas and one in Key West, where I learned a lot from Philip and Nino. On top of that the workshops where a lot of fun to run, I made a little money, but most importantly are the connections I made with the instructors and the students. Philip has asked me to help him with some other workshops since then and my most recent video job is a result of producing those workshops: I got to be director of photography on a documentary film for Netflix.
OK. Last week I talked about printing a business card for a specific project (remember MarketingHack#29) and from my experience, many people I speak with think that business cards are not important in today’s digital world. I can just hear you say: “And now you’re saying how I read someone else’s business card is important to my brand? Come on – I mean it’s a little piece of paper, that we’re not quite sure to do with, once we walk out of a networking situation.”
Let’s back up a bit. Marketing is “the process of promoting, selling and distributing a product or a service“. So how does the other guys business card fit into this definition? Knowing your target audience is vital, but don’t forget that this group is made up out of individuals. The more you know about each one of them, the more you know about the whole, right?
Usually a business card has at least one way of contacting this person, often more than one: email, phone number(s), website, mailing address, ect. It’s a virtual goldmine of avenues to connect with that person. However, if you just toss these little cards into a box or go as far as sticking them into a Rolodex (Do you even have one of those?) they won’t do you much good. You got to be able to have the information at your fingertips to be useful, which means the phone number needs to be in your address book; the address should be linked to the account in your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. It would be even better, if you could connect with the person who handed you the keys to their kingdom, aka their business card, on Social Media, but in reality who has time to enter all that info in the correct places every time, without forgetting to do so?
Make this a habi-matic (and no, that’s not the latest kitchen appliance as seen on TV). It’s a habit, you make automatic: Here’s what I mean – can you image a utopian world, where someone hands you a business card and while you are talking with that person, your staff automatically…
…quickly enough, that you can actually ask the person, if they would like to connect on LinkedIn. Sounds impossible, right? Check out a screen cast of all this happening inside of one minute:
Using this opportunity for more than just accepting a slip of paper, but connecting (and then following up on that new connection), shows someone how serious you are about keeping in touch with them, it gives you all the info you need to promote, distribute and sell your services and that’s the definition of marketing.
So get off your butt, start developing a habi-matic and show your prospects how efficient you are.
You can read how this process actually happens in the first post of my new blog series “Solving the productivity puzzle“.
“Really? In today’s digital fast paced world you’re telling us to create a business card?” I can hear you think “Man, that’s so old school.” Ok. So I’m not advocating to make a card for every single job you’ve made, or even for your best ten or twenty images.
I’m talking about that one signature video or image, that’s out of this world and really stands out. Use projects that give you instant street cred. Something that is so unique, that your audience identifies your brand with the project. “You’re the guy that shot the _______________.” In my case it’s a short documentary film I created in Afghanistan a few years ago.
I often give this card, right after I’ve handed my regular business card – and it stops people in their tracks and it answers a ton of potential questions in about 2 seconds:
“Ok, so he’s shot a video in Afghanistan, that means he can produce my project that requires some production or travel.“
“Wow. The image is pretty powerful and that single frame already tells a story – looks like he’s got his cinematography down.“
“Hey look a national award. This must be a good film.“
This is one of those business cards that people keep and it instantly brands my business into their brains. I love the face of this card. It’s simple, powerful, makes an immediate impact and is very memorable.
As for the back, I’m always surprised at the question I get, once people have flipped the business card over: “Where can I see this video?” Really? The URL is right there!
I also need to redesign the other elements. By now the film has won 3 more awards. It’s been the topic of a TEDx talk. The social media accounts printed on the back of the business card are no longer the accounts I push.
Guess I’ll need to redesign the back and reprint them.
Remember MarketingHack #17 “Link your postcard to the cloud” That’s a printed postcard I use to get my target audience to engage with my brand online. The sky is the limit – posters, shirts, stickers, ect.
If I need a new business card, stationary, poster, ect. I print all of those with Vistaprint. Their quality and price are fantastic, their customer service is great and I’ve been happy with every interaction we’ve had. If you have something that needs to get printed, use this link for $10 off.
We’re all looking for ways to expand our audience, but it’s not about the quantity of followers (I know shocking). It’s about the quality of people who consume our content online.
Imagine if I had 100,000 followers that we’re 70-75 year old, female asian women who love knitting. I’m sure these ladies are the sweetest group of followers ever, but how many of them do you think are in the market to hire a visual content creator and advertising photographer in the US, who specializes in making mind changing videos and product photography? I think you’d agree that a more valuable audience would be a 100 designers, advertising execs, production people and content creators, right?
Well I’ve forgone the asian knitting circle and produced a video for the première Design high school in the US, which happens to be in Miami. Year after year it cranks out a group of World Class fashion designers, architects, filmmakers, industrial designers and graphic artists.
“Why do this work for a high school?” you may ask “it’ll be years before those kids are in a position to hire a professional photographer or commercial cinematographer.” I gotta hand it to you–you’re right, however there are 25 years worth of alumni that are in that position and being that this was for the 25 year anniversary, you could feel the anticipation for this event by the alumni, faculty, staff, parents, community and supporters. So how do you capture their attention? I’ve got two words for you: Anticipation. (OK that’s one word, but I’ll say it again – anticipation drives excitement, which gives you engagement).
Many people knew about the creation of this video. From the school administration and faculty, who helped us find the right alumni to interview to engaged parents and excited alumni giving suggestions, from the world-class executive producer, who helped me put this together to the current students, who we filmed in their class rooms. Everyone knew something was up.
Of course it helps that the event is built on anticipation as well, that there’s an 25 year anniversary involved, that the person featured in the event and video is one of Miami-Dade public schools top educators. You still gotta build anticipation. Let me tell you about a local event I worked on, although the principles apply to any size audience.
You can talk about it, you can Instagram behind the scenes shots of the project (check out my IG feed and let me know which of those images are your favorites), you should make a quick 16 second edit for IG, but the one thing you can not do is share the video. With anyone. Not with the people featured in the video, not with the people you’ve interviewed, not with anyone who does not absolutely, positively have to watch it – like your producer and one person who has the authority to approve it.
Every time you share it with anyone outside of that circle, you lose some anticipation.
Wanna get a sneak peek of what I shot in New York and Miami over the last few days? Check out our celebration of 25 years of making world-class artists and designers in one of the best #PublicSchools in @miamischools! #DASH consistently produces Top Talent in #architecture #IndustrialDesign #fashion #film and #graphicdesign @dashschool
In the end 5 people saw the video (outside my immediate family) before we premiered it at the event: my exec producer, an associate producer, myself and the assistant principal from the school (we wanted to dot our i’s and cross our t’s to make sure there was nothing that the school would object to) and one other principal from another school, who has no connections to this school – I wanted one unbiased opinion.
5 days before the event launched, a short teaser video goes up on social media and is featured in an email blast to everyone at the school and the community, who is invited to the event. Many people came to me in the days leading up to the event saying they are excited to finally watch the final version.
As soon as we had picture lock on the edit, the password protected Vimeo link, used to collaborate with my production team, went dark. Downloads were never enabled and even the AV team got their copy for the show the evening of rehearsal day – barely 24 hours before the event – with explicit instruction, that the video was embargoed until the actual first showing. It wasn’t even used in rehearsal – I had created a special clip for that.
Once the cat’s out of the bag–so to speak–share your content as broadly and as quickly as possible. In this case the official copy of the video was on social media, less than 90 minutes after the live showing – I had to get home from the event and had the first comments soon after.
Figure out where you want the attention, which followed the anticipation, focused on. Release your content in one place and then share that place with everyone – in this case I embedded Vimeo link on one Facebook page and shared that page with my other pages, the schools page, the alumni page, the PTSA page and key influencers.
I’ve done the same for other social media launches. Don’t be afraid to ask certain people (especially those that take the time to like or comment on your content to share it with their followers. Be polite and nice about it, thank them for their contributions, but ask for the share straight up–oh and don’t do that with each one. Pick 2 or 3 a year, find the audience that loves to share the anticipation and go for it.
Who doesn’t like to save money? Look people are reading your blog, following you on social media and listening to what you have to say, because you’re the expert, right?
[Full disclosure all these links are affiliate links, that give you discounts or gifts and may have some financial benefit for me to, BUT I used all these products for many years and I love to tell you about them.]
The list goes on and on, but you can do even better, than just saying – hey this is what I use to do my job: contact the companies and ask for discounts when your audience starts using their services and products, after getting introduced to them by you.
Isn’t a 10% discount or a $15.- savings worth clicking through your links? I think so. It doesn’t take that much time to set this up and sometimes you can also get something out of these deals for yourself (a discount on next months bill, a check for commissions you’ve earned).
One word of caution–actually two:
You’ll find these links in blog articles I write or on the sidebar of my blog. Sometimes I’ll use them in Social Media posts or on forums when someone asks a question, where I can help give a solution and a discount.
If you wanna get all fancy, use bit.ly links to help track how people are using your recommendations and to help remember what the links are; I can’t remember the PhotoShelter affiliate link for the life of me, but http://bit.ly/DepuhlPS is easy.
Now go to your favorite software site, you most used cloud service, … and share why you love to use them with your audience. And figure out how to get them a discount; your audience will love you for that.
Wouldn’t it be great, if a potential client could come along on one of your productions and have a front row seat to see how you work, get a behind the scene glimpse of your workflow and get a feel for your personality on a shoot?
Yeah, I know it’s impossible, but wouldn’t that just be an awesome marketing opportunity? Well although it’s not possible to offer that front row seat to ten thousand clients (or even 10) on set with you, here’s the next best thing you can do:
If you take a little bit of time during a shoot, your clients can join you –front and center– virtually anywhere in the world, no not in person, but online.
Here’s a few ways you can put every member of your target audience, specifically your clients and prospects, in a front row seat of your next shoot:
Instagram is visual, it’s quick to produce and you can easily broadcast the photos to your fans on Facebook and your followers on Twitter. Come up with a memorable hashtag that you use in all the photos and let your target audience experience how you run a production from the virtual front row.
Case in point: I posted only 18 images to Instagram on my recent trip to New York. Here’ how they break down: 5 travel shots, 5 behind the scenes shots, 4 food shots, 3 shots from NYC and one shot of my packed camera bag. I posted these shots over the course of 4 days and got audience engagement on all 3 social media channels, from people in the business, current and maybe some future clients.
You don’t have to flood your social media accounts with content while you’re shooting. A little bit goes a long way. You can check out all the photos on my Instagram account @photosbydepuhl, follow me and catch the next series of bts images (check out #adventuresinfilmmaking).
Remember to tag clients, people you’re interviewing or photographing to make it easy for them to like, share and retweet your visual content (just make sure you ask their permission first).
Awards. I’ve mentioned them as Marketing Hacks before (#4 and #5). They need a lot of preparation – press kits, BTS (behind the scenes) photos, bio’s, ect. for movie submissions and printing, mounting and shipping for print competitions. They are time-consuming and can get expensive – entry fees can range from a couple bucks to several hundred dollars per image or film. Who’s got time for awards?
Awards may actually hurt your feelings. Actually submitting awards to a contest is a pretty emotional experience – especially, if your work ends up in front of a panel of live judges. You’ve toiled and labored to create this image or that film, only to have it rejected by an anonymous group of people, after having paid money for the privilege. Who needs that?
Let’s take a look at some benefits awards can bring to your work:
If you don’t want to get any better, then please stop reading. No seriously. You’re just gonna get pissed off. Still with me, ok – here it goes: Listen to the judges. Ask them why work got rejected, many times you will not get an answer, but sometimes you can strike gold. These guys and girls are comparing dozens or hundreds of works. They are looking at the state of our industry at this point in time. If you win awards–great–more about that later, but let’s look at loosing and trust me you’ll do more of that than winning.
Check out what my friend and fellow photographer Chris Winton-Stahle (@WintonStahle) has to say about the benefits of loosing in a recent Chicago Tribune interview:
Losing can pay off in a winner takes all world. Check out this article I was interviewed for by the Chicago Tribune! http://t.co/kD5rv1eLFM
— Chris Winton-Stahle (@WintonStahle) September 11, 2015
The constructive critic a judge could give you is invaluable, if it lines up with how your clients judge your work. I try to get an explanation of why my work didn’t win every time I enter a contest and loose. Set realistic expectations. I get about 1 in 10 requests answered.
Consider the awards competition you enter: If I enter an architectural photo in a competition put on by wedding photographers, they may not be the best people to get comments from, so you may be throwing your time and money away here. If it’s a panel of architects, professional photographers and art buyers from that field, their advice on why the photo didn’t win is invaluable – if you can get it.
For some reason the phrase “award-winning photographer” holds some weight with clients. Now hear me out, you won’t get hired because you won awards, but all thing being equal, if it’s you bidding against another photographer, the win may factor into the clients decision on whom to hire.
The more prestigious the award, the more bragging rights and weight it will carry. Winning an Oscar, Grammy, Tony, Emmy is definitely more valuable than winning Bob’s dry cleaner’s photo contest. Local film festivals are easier to get screened in than national or international ones. The more well-known the awards are that you win, the more value they add to your work. On the flip side these are harder to win to.
Branding is what MarketingHacks are all about, right? You want to burn your brand into their brains as many times (and as unobtrusively as you can (if you’re not sure why that’s important, check out How to master social media: Read a Book.) Awards give you a great excuse to put your best work in front of your target audience. Who can get upset at you for letting people know you won!
The work that accompanies your awards is typically your best work too, which is why you want to put that in front of your clients anyway, right? Hey the last award I won, we put together a whole marketing campaign, based on that one award: How to fire a marketing broadside at your target audience.
Chasing awards for awards sake–in my opinion–is not worth the cost of entry. However they can help you get better, let clients know that your work merits recognition from your peers and they can offer a great opportunity to market your brand.