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Expert Advice: Marketing Calls

Tuesday January 7th, 2014

By Elyse Leyenberger

Cold calls. Dun dun dun. Reaching out to prospective clients through phone calls seems daunting to many photographers. However, with practice, personality, and a little panache, marketing phone calls will become a breeze, and can help to make a more memorable connection with your prospects. Also, putting a voice to a name is a good first step to eventually landing in-person meetings.

At Wonderful Machine, we like to refer to marketing calls as “warm calls” rather than “cold calls” because the client we’re calling has already been contacted by us either through email, print mailer, or one of the many other ways we promote WM. Keep in mind that before you contact a prospective client on the phone, you should have already reached out to them in some other way. However, don’t be offended in the common case that they don’t remember you, because creatives can often be inundated by photographer emails on a regular basis. The idea is to distinguish yourself from all of the “other guys” by making a memorable and useful phone call in order to make them remember you this time around.

It’s important to reach out on an individual basis to each contact in your personal marketing “universe” at least once per year. As a photographer, you should define your “universe” as a reasonable amount of prospects that are targeted, manageable and appropriate for your work. So, if you have 1,000 prospects, try to reach out to around 100 each month in order to make that goal. Again, you’re really separating yourself from the pack and giving yourself a competitive advantage over other photographers through making phone calls. You’ll separate yourself even more so when you meet with a client face-to-face, which should be your end goal.

I typically recommend to photographers that they set aside small sections of time a few days a week to call 10 prospects rather than trying to spend a whole day making all of the calls for the month. Experiment with the time of day you make your calls to see when you’re most likely to get prospects on the phone. Also, you should be sure to keep time zones in mind. This might be obvious, but if you’re based in Boston and are calling a prospect in San Francisco, wait until the afternoon to reach out.

You should always have something new to talk about when reaching out to your clients. This goes for all other forms of marketing outreach as well, not just phone calls. You don’t want to reach out to a client and successfully get them to your site, only for them to find the same website they saw last time around with the same content. Keep your site fresh and keep it populated with new and relevant work. Perhaps you can send along a new project you haven’t put up on the main portfolio, or a blog post you’ve written about an interesting job you did. The end goal of all of your marketing efforts should be to get your work in front of your prospective clients, so a great reason to reach out to your prospects is to schedule a portfolio meeting with them. However, if they’re located in a city you won’t be likely to visit for a meeting, it’s okay to call them to follow up on your emailer or print promo.

In my own experience reaching out to promote our photographers, I’ve found that prospects react well when I have something relevant and current to talk to them about. I always keep their site and client list open in front of me and start the conversation out by bringing up something like a recent project of theirs that I found really exciting. From there it’s easier to ask the questions I’ve set out to ask them. I change up my conversation points over time, to see what different prospects react to. That way, I’m constantly learning more about what does and doesn’t work, all while keeping it fresh for myself.

It can be helpful to write out a script to have on hand when making phone calls. Having a structured and clear message in front of you can help to guide the conversation when you reach the prospect. However, be sure to not sound robotic when you’re on the phone. Practice your script a bunch to make sure you have a natural delivery before reaching out, so that your personality has the opportunity to come through. It’s also important to have something ready to say when you leave a voicemail. Here’s a basic example:

For when you get someone on the phone:

“Hello, ___ this is Joe Blow calling, how are you doing today? I was just calling to check in and tell you how great the ____ spread was in this month’s issue of ____! I thought that the mood of the images really complement the season, and I can tell you guys did an excellent job putting it together, it was a really terrific story!***” (Or something like that, depending on the company/publication)
“I also wanted to let you know that I just completed a project with ______ which I recently wrote about on my blog! If you’d like, I’ll email you a link to check out when you’ve got a minute.”

For when you’re leaving a voicemail:

“Hello, ___. This is Joe Blow calling. I just wanted to check in and see how things are going at ____ and to tell you about some great new photos I’ve been working on lately, which I think speak to the type of work you guys are doing with the ____ campaign I saw on your website***. If you have a few minutes next week, I’d love to drop by and show you in person. Feel free to give me a call back at your convenience at 123-456-7890. Thanks very much, and have a great day!”

***Find something relevant to talk to the prospect about! It is helpful to show that you care about the company and that you’ve done your homework.

Don’t get hung up if some of your prospects react poorly to your phone call. Clients have different preferences as to how they prefer being contacted by photographers, be it through social media, emailers, print mailers, phone calls, source books, or other means. It’s only natural that some of your prospects are going to be too busy to talk and would rather you reach out in some other way. Simply move on to the next prospect and keep at it.

Most of all, be persistent and dedicated to your marketing plan. Keep track of your efforts and leads in a contact database, and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to get your work out there. There are lots of friendly people in the world of commercial and editorial photography, so go ahead and introduce yourself to a few!

Read information on the marketing services we offer on our consulting page.

One Response to “Expert Advice: Marketing Calls”

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