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“There is a God and He loves me.” That’s what I’m thinking when I hang up the phone. I’m so excited, I can hardly contain myself. I had just finished editing my first documentary film, that had been produced as a pro bono piece for a humanitarian organization. I made the movie to tell their story. A distant second reason was to learn how to shot a documentary film and even further down the list, I’m thinking it’s a great piece to launch the video portion of my photography business, if I could put the story about my client front and center. The organization had covered the costs of the production and I was happy to not charge my for my filming and editing, but we had never even considered to include any money to promote their story.
However, in my mind, their story deserves to be premiered in a bigger way, than just setting up a screen in my backyard with some friends – I’m thinking a lot bigger than that–in german we have a word for that Größenwahn (loosely translated it means megalomania = the delusion about one’s importance) or in my case the delusion about how important the story is that the film is telling–but it looks like in reality it is gonna be the garden party with a couple of friends, after all it’s my first documentary film and I’ve only been doing video for 6 months when I filmed it. Before that day, I had almost given up the hope for something big and almost accepted the fact of an intimate launch party with some friends. Almost. Until I get off the phone.
“I’m gonna be in Florida, can I come visit?” Daniel had asked me. We’ve know each other for decades and love hanging out together, although we usually live on opposite sides of the globe–we actually were in Cape Town at the same time once, but didn’t find out until weeks later – c’est la vie. Anyway, I was excited to get a chance to spend some time with my college buddy. At the same time I was curious, since he’s usually not in Florida when he comes to the States. When I inquired about the reason for the unexpected, but very welcome visit, his answer stopped me dead in my tracks: “I’m gonna be picking up the plane.”
Turns out the plane he’s talking about, is the very one that I had flown in and filmed, while I was in Afghanistan. It’s now sitting at an airport 20 minutes from my house, waiting for a new set of engines and an avionics upgrade. “Can we do something with the plane and the movie?” was my first question to him. I’m envisioning something grandiose, like the plane parked next to a big screen that’s playing their story, like my friend Mary always says “Go big, or go home.” I like dreaming big. Remember Größenwahn? But since there’s no budget, the chances of anything happening are remote to say the least. I mean I have to find a place that’s big enough to actually pull this off and I need to be able to get the airplane to that place, if I find one. What are the chances of that happening? Slim to none.
I call the company that’s working on the plane. They should to have the hangar, right? So I call them up and get a very nice secretary on the phone, who does a great job of not letting me even speak to her boss. Don’t get me wrong. She’s doing exactly what she is hired to do–get rid of all the crazy people. So how do you handle a polite “No“? Do (a) give up, (b) look for another location, (c) curl up in a corner and cry or (d) none of the above.
I send a nice email thanking her for her time and include a trailer for the movie. 20 minutes later my phone rings.
My first corporate email address was ridiculous. Something like 862xq34_44o0O@myemployer.com. There’s no way on earth someone could remember that.
Today my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. My website is depuhl.com, my blog is blog.depuhl.com and my twitter account is @photosbydepuhl. (See a pattern here?) Since your website is one of the few places online, that you can and should control and that you actually can own get your own URL and host your website(s) – there’s nothing more amateurish than a business who’s email is email@example.com or @gmail.com or @bellsouth.net. Get your own domain name! It’s not difficult. It’s not expensive and it’s something you gotta do. I use 1and1 internet as my web host and have done so forever. They do a great job at a fair price and have tremendous customer service.
Think SEO when choosing your domain name. Consider your brand. What are people expecting, what are they searching for? Are you a product like apple.com or should it be your name like depuhl.com Whatever you decide, make your URL memorable? And do this as soon as you think about it. It costs next to nothing to own a domain name, even if you’re not doing anything with it.
Get something you can say. Something that makes sense. My domain revolves around my last name Depuhl, and although I have to spell it every time I say it, if you know me you know my website. In addition to looking professional, controlling your own domain also means controlling your email addresses. No more Kathy372@email.com.
Make your domain name part of your due diligence, before you commit to a legal name for your business. When we were thinking about ideas for names for my Afghan documentary, one of the things I looked at where domain names – fortunately, the film industry standard is NameOfMovieFILM.com so that made it a little easier, but I secured the domain name as soon as possible. You can watch the movie at OnWingsOfHopeFilm.com. See? That’s easy to say, it’s easy to read, it’s easy to share and you know what you’re getting yourself into. Oh and make sure your domain names auto renew, otherwise a lot of your hard earned work is for nothing when you let them lapse.
If you want to share content that you don’t own, like the video of my TEDx talk, for example, use a link shortener; but PLEASE customize it, since you won’t remember if it was bit.ly/1FJjslH or bit.ly/1fJjslH and yes those are different links. That’s why the short link to my TEDx talk is bit.ly/TEDxPascal easy to remember, easy to share, easy to embed.
[UPDATE: If you’ve clicked on the last link, you’ll be disappointed. TEDx decided to change the underlying links, so my nice human readable bit.ly link is dead. I figured well that’s easy – you just change the underlying link and you’re back in business, unfortunately, bit.ly makes it pretty expensive to make that change happen. My favorite link shortener is mine no more. So bye bye bit.ly and hello to rebrandly. Rabrandly lets you change the links for free and even better, you get to make your own link shortener if you’d like. So my TEDx talk is now to be found at pbd.li/TEDx and if the people at TEDx decide to rearrange their links again, that’s no problem – now I can keep my shortener and no one will run into an ugly redirect.]
… you don’t remember the first email I had at work, right? But you do remember the bit.ly site for my TEDx talk or the URL for my film. Make your URL work for you. It needs to work for your marketing, your SEO and you need to be able to share it easily.
No, really – Janine Warner used one of my Facebook pages as an example of good Social Media Design in her book. OK, great you say – but how is this marketing? Any mention of your work is marketing – in this case, it happens to be a page that features the world wide screening of On Wings of Hope. (We’ll look at the event itself in next weeks MarketingHack #10.)
Everything you put online is there forever. Usually “long tail” refers to search, but I want to challenge you to think about how to use projects you’ve done for a long time–let the project have a long tail. In this case the premiere was on April 8th, 2013 – and the conversation to make this an example in a book took place almost half a year after the event.
It started with a simple tweet. AdAge had just published their “Women to watch” list in their June issue. I love finding the people mentioned on those lists and send them a little congratulations tweet. It’s a fun way yo say hi.
I run the tweets through Buffer for the day, instead of blasting them all out at once. Usually I get a few followers, a few favorites and retweets and a few “Thank you” tweets back, but this time I got an unexpected opportunity to deploy a MarketingHack:
“amazing!! Where did you get a hard copy?” reads the comment @lizeswein writes (which gives me an idea) – to be honest I subscribe to AdAge and I’ve read the issue, it’s …
A little exposure is good – a lot of exposure is better. Marketing Hack #6 was all about getting in front of trusted influencers. So what could possibly be better, than getting the opportunity to speak to some of the 800+ attendees of a conference custom made for companies and individuals, who are trusted by your target market. What could possibly be better, than that inch of exposure you get in the program and on their website? Think about it: I was one of 70 speakers at WordCamp Miami 2015 and if an attendee is not looking to learn about video, that inch is easy to miss. The talk is 30 minutes during a 3 day conference. Face it – you’re still easy to miss.
OK, so my name was not in lights, but we did have 3,000 Watts of movie lights in the video studio that we set up in the main hall. Every single one of the participants, speakers and sponsors walked by it a few times a day – and that’s a lot more exposure, than a 3o minute speech or the inch in the conference schedule.
Many people were curious what we were doing at WordCamp Miami with the cameras, lights and boom mic that looked more like a news set, than a typical WordCamp vendor. Maybe that curiosity also came from the sign that said “Free Video” – expertly drawn and marketed by my two daughters.
Marketing is all about getting your brand in front of your target audience. There’s only one thing that’s better: getting your brand in front of trusted influencers; professionals, who are in charge of finding brands like yours for your target audience.
Case in point: Most of the companies I work for have a web designer, a blogger or a social media guru, whom they employ to create and maintain their online properties. Many times they have long term relationships with my target audience. This trust often earns them the right to recommend a photographer or a video producer and almost always, they don’t have someone in mind.
In larger companies those gatekeepers are either in-house marketing departments or advertising agencies, however many midsize and almost all small businesses work very differently. Many times there is another small business or a freelancer, who is hired to develop their online assets. More importantly he or she is trusted to recommend visual content creators.
“Ok” you say “marketing to influencers sounds nice and all, but how do you find them and isn’t reaching out to them one by one gonna take an awfully long time?” Of course you’re right. If you were to start looking for web developers, bloggers and social media marketeers one at a time or even if you were to create an email campaign or social media ad blitz, it would take you forever, which is a time frame I’m not too comfortable working in when I’m looking for new leads. More importantly you don’t know the experience level of who you’d find and they wouldn’t know anything about you.
Wouldn’t it be cool, if you could spend two or three days immersed in 700+ local influencers, who on top of that are told by an international brand they trust, that you are the expert? What if we’d throw in 60 industry heavy experts, who would be your peers for the weekend? In my book that sounds like a much more favorable proposition now, don’t you agree? So what is this magical place, that draws these influencers whom your target market trusts and relies on?
“Congratulations! You’ve won gold at the MarCom awards!” reads the letter I receive earlier this year. MarCom stands for Marketing and Communication a competition for marketing professionals. I submitted “On Wings of Hope” to the competition and I’m thrilled to win another award for my first documentary film.
There are more than a few competition for marketing people out there and there’s other types of competitions from advertising to some other zappy creative profession, so you got to be a little selective in entering them, since -like at a film festival- there are fees that range from a couple bucks to several hundred dollars per category. (You can check out how film festivals are a great marketing hack in last weeks post: Marketing Hack #4: Have your work screened at film festivals)
That being said, the contests need to be relevant to your target market. Say I create an image or video in a field that I usually don’t work – let’s say automobile photography – submit it and win (which is unlikely, but stay with me). If most of my clients are corporate organizations, that never look at car photography, that win is worth next to nothing.
However, if you win in a competition for marketing (even a local or less well known one), it will reflect on the quality of work you produce and even have new people look at your work, just because it won an award.